• September 29, 2019 8:25 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    Erin Barbot, Erin Barbot & Co.
    September 29, 2019

    I spend A LOT of time in my car, so it’s really important to me that I keep it clean, organized, and that I always have what I need. At any given moment I’m hauling client storage bins, children, donations, snacks, snacks, snacks, you name it. Over the last few years I’ve developed some habits and found some great products to help me keep my car as sane as possible.

    • Every Sunday I vacuum my car out and throw away any trash. I know you’re thinking that’s not feasible, but hear me out. This is far from a detailing job. I spend 10 minutes max with the dust buster and just get the floors, seats, and kids’ car seats. I still take it to the full-service car wash on a regular basis, where they do a much better job, but starting the week without goldfish, street salt, and grass everywhere can really help your headspace. You don’t have to wait for the magical time (which never happens) to get it “perfect” and professionally clean to make it more manageable on a weekly basis. Sometimes waiting for the A+ holds us back from at least having a B+!
    • We bring (almost) everything in everyday. Barring items that need to stay in the car because they live there, or client items I will be dropping off within the week, I bring in everything when we go inside for the day. We don’t leave toys, clothes, sippy cups, or coats until that “special time” (which never happens) when they will be brought back inside. We bring everything in every day.
    • Snacks stay in the car. I don’t want to have to remember to bring snacks; I prefer to just have them there all the time. My daughter knows that there are always crackers and trail mix in the car. I keep them in the center console so I can easily hand them to her. I keep this little cup in there as well so I don’t have to think to bring one in the car every time.
    • I use a back-of-the-seat organizer similar to this one to organize items we do like to have on hand and which belong permanently in the car. Right now that includes kids’ sunglasses, Wet Ones, back-up clothes, etc. Seasonally, it might also include bug spray and sunscreen for the summer months. We always want things like that on hand when we’re out and about in sunny weather, but they can freeze and become unusable if kept in the car during the winter.
    • I keep this little trash can in my door for small papers, banana peels, tissues, and the like. I empty it out about once a week.
    • This little organizer lives in one of my cup holders to keep my chapstick, a pen, some mints, and hand sanitizer.

    Again, my goal is to spend just a little extra time to make it a little more manageable and clean. It’s not about showroom perfection, it’s about making myself feel in control when I’m out and about, and keeping my family safe when I can focus on driving and not digging under my seat at a stoplight for whatever is rolling around on the floor!

    Happy Organizing!


    This post originally appeared in the Erin Barbot & Co. blog.

  • August 19, 2019 4:09 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    Penny Bryant Catterall, Order Your Life, LLC
    ugust 19, 2019

    paperwork and memorabilia

    Do you have decades’ worth of paper clutter in your garage or home office? Are you ready to let go of it? Scanning and storing your papers as computer files will give you the security of knowing you can access them any time. And doing it all in one fell swoop – working several consecutive days rather than, say, one day a week over several weeks – makes it easier for a professional organizer like me to help you accomplish this efficiently and effectively.

    My busy week in LA tackling decades of a client’s paper clutter 

    A long-time DC area client recently asked me if I’d be willing to travel to LA to work with her 80-year-old mother (we’ll call her Barbara) to help go through decades of accumulated paper. She felt strongly that she didn’t want to burden her two daughters to deal with it all.  While she was ready to let go of most of the paper, she needed help in order to face it, both emotionally and physically. She also wanted to keep many of the documents so our plan was to scan them. I jumped at the chance. As almost all of my paper organizing jobs take place over many months, I was eager to see what I could accomplish in a week.

    Organizing our task

    In April, I flew out to LA to meet Barbara and work in her home. We scheduled six hours a day for five days in a row. She had 3 file cabinets full of paper, at least a dozen boxes with assorted photos, her mother’s writing, and travel memorabilia. I  was joined by a longtime friend of mine who lives in the LA area.  She worked with me as an assistant, doing the scanning as I helped Barbara make decisions about what to discard, what to keep, and how to organize it.

    To scan and digitize the documents she wanted to keep, we used the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500. This particular model can scan 50 pages double sided in under 2 minutes. For the job we were doing, it was an essential tool. Barbara had just purchased a new PC laptop, so we used Microsoft One Drive to create an organizational file system for each of her newly scanned documents. This made it possible for her to access the files on her phone, iPad and other devices. As Barbara and I decided how to handle each document, we put the papers in folders with file names. Each folder had a sticky note attached to it. We were careful to name each file in a way that would make sense to Barbara for her new digital filing system.

    In some cases, such as with property deeds, insurance policies, loan payoff statements and other vital documents, we kept the originals of the paper in well-labeled files. But in most cases, the paper versions were designated either for shredding or for the recycle bin. We sorted out the photos that were mixed in with other papers. Next we set the photos aside in a separate box to send to for digitizing. Prior to my arrival, Barbara had already sent them over 7,000 pictures and slides!

    Our accomplishments

    By the end of the week, we had completely emptied one four-drawer file cabinet. We had accumulated 3 50-gallon containers filled with paper to be recycled. We set aside several boxes for shredding. In the process, we also cleaned and organized her office shelves and desk drawers, found lots of old recyclable electronics and created a desktop file box for immediate access to her most urgent action items. Most importantly, Barbara learned the process of how to go through her files and decide how to best preserve each item. After I left, she had the confidence to tackle her travel memorabilia and other personal papers on her own.

    My takeaways

    1. You can get a lot more accomplished in five consecutive days than you can working one day a week for five weeks. It’s easy to pick up where you left off yesterday, but not so easy to remember what you did a week or a month ago.
    2. Having more time means you can see the bigger picture and work more efficiently. Three-hour appointments, although effective, significantly limit the scope of what can be accomplished over a longer period of time.
    3. You can greatly increase your efficiency with a helper. As my assistant did the scanning, I was free to help the client make the harder decisions about what to keep and scan, what to shred, and how to organize the paper and digital files.
    4. Using a dedicated document scanner will guarantee optimal preservation of all your important papers. I chose the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 because it helps overcome a huge stumbling block for people like Barbara who fear letting go of sentimental papers (such as her mother’s writing, her own journals, and other personal memorabilia).  Scanning the paper made it easier for Barbara, knowing that it would be scanned, named and organized in a way that she could easily find it.

    In a single week we were able to help Barbara clear decades of paper clutter. Now her files and important papers are at her fingertips where she can find them, and she is relieved of the worry of leaving it for her daughters to deal with. The paper clutter around you may be costing you more than you realize in calmness, time, money and productivity.  Are you ready to get it scanned and organized?

    Originally posted on the Order Your Life blog.

  • July 07, 2019 4:21 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    Recently, a group of chapter members got together to help Jody Al-Saigh’s family. 

    The brief back story: Jody's brother, Alex, was an innocent bystander in a shooting in Washington, DC. He is now in a rehab facility. His girlfriend, Rebecca, moved their belongings to a place that would be better suited for Alex when he comes home in a wheelchair.

    Six organizers (and Amy Dobson’s boyfriend, Frank, not pictured) unpacked their new apartment. Pictured from left to right: Judy Tiger, C.Lee Cawley, Susan Unger, Amy Dobson, Silvia Balderas, Martha Blumenthal, and Rebecca (Alex’s girlfriend).

  • June 15, 2019 8:22 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    We are pleased to announce the 2019 Chapter Awardees!

    Organizer of the Year
    For the chapter member who best promoted the organizing industry or chapter and made a difference in the community.

    Heather Cocozza, Cocozza Organizing & Design

    Business Partner of the Year
    For the business partner who best supported the industry and chapter members.

    Anna Novak, Anna Novak Real Estate RE/MAX West End

    Volunteer of the Year
    For the chapter member whose volunteer work had the most impact on the chapter.

    Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

    And the winner of the annual drawing for a free one-year chapter membership is... Julie Pandya of Home Strategies, LLC.

  • May 21, 2019 1:37 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    Jessica Williams, Clutter Doctor
    May 21, 2019

    disorganized womanMany people are embarrassed and frustrated by their lack of organization. But did you know that being disorganized can actually cost you money? Here are 10 ways that you may be sabotaging your ability to hold on to your hard-earned cash:

    1. Lost Receipts.  Not being able to return a purchase because you can’t find the receipt means money down the drain.

    2. Uncashed Checks.  Rebates, tax returns, gifts and other uncashed checks that are buried in your clutter expire and often cannot be reclaimed.

    3. Late fees on bills and credit cards.  Bills lost in stacks of paperwork don’t get paid on time, resulting in extra fees and may negatively affect your credit score.

    4.  Multiple purchases.  A client and I once uncovered 8 calculators in her home. She could never find one when she needed it, so she kept buying more. Sound familiar?

    5. Storage space rental.  Letting go of items you don’t actually love or need and creating order in your home will free up the money you are currently spending on self-storage units.

    6. Tax-time headaches.   Missing the documentation necessary to file your taxes can result in being unable to legally claim all the deductions you are entitled to, or even result in penalties if you file your return late.

    7. Grocery bills.  Failing to plan out meals and keep food staples on hand results in too many impulsive trips to the grocery store or eating out more often than your budget can really handle.

    8. More clutter = less income.   A disorganized work environment means you are wasting time searching for items when you could be focusing on productive activity that helps you make money instead.

    9. Missed appointment charges.   If you misplace your medical appointment reminder and don’t show up at the doctor’s office, you can rack up expensive “no-show” fees.

    10. Mental health.  The anxiety of being disorganized can take an emotional toll on you and those who care about you. Your mental health is priceless!

    In short, being disorganized means lost time. And, we all know that time equals money. Think you can’t afford to hire a professional organizer? I would argue that you can’t afford not to!

    Originally posted on the Clutter Doctor blog.

  • April 10, 2019 10:53 AM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    Janet Schiesl, CPO®, Basic Organization
    April 10, 2019


    When you need to concentrate, distractions can be bad – challenging at the least – the phone, the kids, the TV. But studies have shown that music can help you focus. For me, it creates a mood, a little cocoon in which I can focus on what I am doing. I don’t really think about what’s playing. It background, but it keeps me there, in the moment.

    Try it. Create a play list on PandoraSpotify, or iTunes. Listen to your favorite local radio station from the Internet (or the radio) or web sites like Get out your collection of CDs and relive old times.

    Try different types of music. See how classical, new age or blues can change the environment and your level of focus. Mid-afternoon slump – need to find some energy? Try turning up the volume, getting up and singing a few tunes! Find what works best for you.

    Originally posted on the Basic Blog.

  • March 21, 2019 7:57 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)

    by Cris Sgrott, CPO®, CPO-CD®, Organizing Maniacs®, LLC
    March 21, 2019

    Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport is for everyone looking for Attention Management, not Time Management tools.

    “Simply put, humans are not wired to be constantly wired.” – Cal Newport

    In Digital Minimalism, Newport helps us learn to live in a world with constant distraction. Most of us are addicted to our screens, but research shows that if you spent a large portion of your day in fragmented focus, it will eventually permanently reduce your ability to concentrate for prolonged periods of time.

    Are you a Digital Minimalist or a Maximalist?

    • How many Apps do you have on your phone?
    • How many Apps do you use daily?
    • Can you have lunch with a friend or loved one without looking at your phone?
    • What do you feel when your phone is not near you?
    • What is the longest you can go without checking your notifications?
    • Which App do you spend most of your time on, and how important is that App to your real life?

    Most people, adults and teens alike, are experiencing higher levels of anxiety because we’re never getting enough downtime.

    Maniacs' Book Club Digital Minimalism by Cal NewportManiac Takeaway

    Find a small amount of time everyday to just let my brain rest and wonder without consuming any new information.

    • Become more intentional about what you do with your time. Make plans in advance
    • Fix or build something every week. Do the project all the way to the end
    • Join something new – a club, a group, a volunteer organization

    Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport is available on Amazon.

    Download our full report

    This post originally appeared on the Organizing Maniacs blog.

  • February 20, 2019 7:24 PM | Diane Greenhalgh (Administrator)
    Nicole Holtmanby Nicole Holtman, Practically Organized, LLC

    Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix has everyone talking about my absolute favorite topic - organizing!

    Marie Kondo’s warm personality and cleverly named tidying method (Konmari), along with an exceptional PR team, have done an amazing job highlighting a growing issue in American households - too much stuff and clutter! As a Professional Organizer and fan of transformational stories I couldn’t wait to watch her show. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, I’ve outlined 5 key lessons from her show.


    Lesson 1: Organizing is Everyone’s Responsibility

    In nearly every episode, whether it was a couple or family, the theme that everyone should be involved in the organizing process was constant. Too much dependency on one person (often the mother) caused stress and tension within the family. Just as Marie Kondo did in episodes 1 and 2, I remind my clients that it is never too early or too late to involve your children in organizing and maintaining a system. Learning to organize as a child sets them up success as an adult. It also, alleviates stress and burden on the parent’s shoulders which frees their energy and time to focus on other things. It’s a win-win!

    Lesson 2: Create a Clear Vision

    This is an essential step that often gets overlooked. I always ask clients what their ideal vision is for the space before we start. Visualizing how the space will look, feel, be used for, who will use it – all helps create a guide for making decisions through the organizing process. Once there is a clear vision, it is easier to decide if an item fits into that vision. If it doesn’t then it should go elsewhere (to another room or out of the home completely). If it does fit the vision then it stays in the space. Create your vision and write it down if that is helpful.

    Lesson 3: Miscellaneous is Dangerous

    Marie Kondo’s 4th category to tackle is called Komono. It is the miscellaneous category that includes: kids, office, cleaning, kitchen (that’s a big one), garage, decor, and bathrooms. It can seem daunting tackling the Komono category when you see the list of all the spaces and items that fall into it. Just two of those sub-categories are heavy just to think about (kitchens and garages). Kitchens (especially American kitchens) have become complex family hubs that serve as more than just a place to prepare and enjoy a meal. Don’t get overwhelmed. Take it space by space, subcategory by subcategory and item by item.

    Lesson 4: Time Management is the Secret

    Marie Kondo does not address this in her series but for me it kept coming up in each episode. Whether it was episode one’s the friend family saying they don’t have time to do the laundry and pick up or the couples in the last two episodes, it takes time to maintain the organizing systems. Finding time is difficult for most households. With any new system there are steps to maintain it. I wish Kondo had discussed with the clients how to create time to implement these steps or build time in their current schedules. If many of her clients could manage their time more efficiently they would probably have better success staying organized.

    Lesson 5: You don’t have to become a Minimalist

    So many people are worried that an organizer is going to tell them to toss everything and lead a minimalist lifestyle. That’s a myth. I was so happy to see that Marie Kondo’s show wasn’t trying to make each family a minimalist. She did not walk in and try to convince everyone to get rid of 50% of their items. There wasn’t a set amount. The end results of each transformation was practical and un-staged. It did not look like producers came in with a team and polished a set. Each space represented the clients but with a more purposeful vision.

    Bonus Lesson: You don’t have to do it alone!

    Most people don’t have Marie Kondo and a camera crew following them for a month, providing motivation and guidance as they process their stuff. But you can find someone to support you and guide you through the process. As Sunita in episode 6 says, “If you can’t get the job done, seek out experts to help you.” You can find a Professional Organizer to work side by side with you. Visit the Find an Organizer directory

    This post originally appeared on the Practically Organized blog.

  • October 14, 2018 8:11 PM | Anonymous

    submitted by NAPO Member, Lisa Luken

    Reposted from NAPO Get Organized & Be Productive Blog

    FOMO. A reality that most of us frequently encounter. It’s hard to say no to invites from friends, fearing we’ll miss out on the fun. It’s hard to stop scrolling endless feeds fearing we might miss the latest happenings in the world. It’s hard to let information pass us by.  But FOMO (short for fear of missing out) is simply an illusion. If we’re not careful, it will pull us away from the experiences that really matter most in our lives. And if that happens, we’re really missing out-on what truly matters most.

    Last year I made the decision to cancel my reservations for two conferences that I’ve attended for the past few years. I absolutely love attending these conferences but several factors contributed to my decision not to attend. During the time the conferences were happening, FOMO kept trying to rear its ugly head and it wasn’t easy to keep it at bay.

    Ultimately, I had to stay focused on my reasons why I chose not to attend and I had to keep trusting that saying no to these events was giving me the ability to say yes to more perfectly aligned opportunities that lie ahead. I’ve since won out against FOMO in other ways but fighting the battle of is not easy!

    Here are 5 ways I Deal with FOMO:

    1. I’ve accepted the fact that I will NEVER know it all. The unknown is hard for most of us. And being able to find out almost anything with the push of a button can leave us feeling discontented if we let it. I’m learning to accept the idea that it’s okay not to know the details of things and there’s significant freedom in that.

    2. I’m going deeper, not wider. After casting a wide net in the early years of my business and exploring several areas related to simplifying and organizing, I eventually landed on a few that I really love most. My word of the year, convergence, sums it up pretty well. I love learning new things, but I’ve found that digging deeper rather than wider still fulfills my thirst for new knowledge and ideas and keeps me from experiencing FOMO on the things I choose not to pursue.

    3. I’m learning to listen more and use teamwork. Rather than focus on consuming everything by myself, I’m enjoying a “divide and conquer” approach to receiving information and participating in activities. I’ve found sharing information and truly listening to what each other has to share to be more fun than trying to consume it all myself. And I’m enjoying hearing others share their stories about experiences I chose not to participate in.

    4. I’m trusting my gut and I’m believing that I will have what I need when I need it. I enjoy the flow of life and I live close to the ocean because of the constant flow of the water. Sometimes the tide is going out and sometimes it’s coming in. I trust that everything in life follows this pattern and that the universe is always working for us.

    5. I know that by choosing to say no to something, I am creating space to receive even better, more aligned opportunities. Within a few weeks of canceling my conferences, I was presented with an opportunity to participate in something that was perfectly aligned with what I needed right then. By saying no to the other two conferences, I was able to say yes to this instead.

    And I’m grateful that’s not something I had to miss out on.

    How do you deal with FOMO?

    Lisa Luken, ACC, helps women simplify their lives and discover their bold, brave and beautiful selves in the process. She is a Simple Living Coach & Consultant and offers keynotes, workshops and retreats focusing on getting organized and simplifying.

  • October 10, 2018 12:35 PM | Anonymous

    It can feel impossible to find a healthy balance between raising a human and being a human. But Julie Morgenstern offers parents remarkably practical strategies that organize the seemingly infinite job of being a parent into a manageable set of responsibilities that are relevant from cradle to college. Her clear, nonjudgmental approach will help you see what you’re doing well, where you could be doing better and how even small changes in your own behavior can yield big results. Based on her forthcoming book, TIME TO PARENT, this presentation will empower you to juggle the priorities of the parenting years, as you create regular quality time with your kids -- and for yourself.

    Julie’s approach is based on 30 years of field work, coaching individuals and families around the world, and a deep understanding of the leading scientific research on human development. Attendees will learn simple strategies to:

    Stay present and focused, whether you’re playing with your kids, enjoying a meal with your significant other, or tackling a big work project.

    Share the joys and burdens of running a household by engaging in honest dialogues your spouse and children and learning new ways to divvy up the work.

    Get more out of short periods of time by seeing how 5-15 minutes of undivided attention can be exactly what your child needs, and make you feel whole.

    Give yourself permission to take personal time without feeling guilty, and the science and case studies that show how important self-care is and how to make time for it.

    For children, regular quality time with a parent is as important to their development as food or shelter. TIME TO PARENT empowers moms and dads to celebrate what they are doing well and learn simple strategies to improve in the areas where they fall short.

    Julie’s Excited to Share!

    Whether we have children ourselves or we consult or coach our clients that have children, we’d benefit from Julie’s expert perspective. Julie states: "I have a big history of book events in DC, which has included speaking at the National Book Festival with the launch of my last book SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life. It was a huge turnout, and it made me feel very connected to readers in Washington DC. This time around, having the chance to speak with families and to help them better organize their lives so that they can have quality time with their kids and for themselves is something I am very much looking forward to sharing." We are excited to hear her topic development and take away points for our clients and to implement in our own lives as productivity professionals.

    “Julie is an amazing motivational speaker! I admire her ability to present in large group settings, along side celebrities and in front of the camera. This book launch will not just be her reading a paragraph from her book, but she will inspire us to be the best parents we can be.” - NAPO-WDC Member

    We warmly welcome you to join us for this momentous event on Saturday October 20, 2018 in Arlington, VA.

NAPO - Washington DC Metro Chapter |  PO Box 7301, Arlington, VA 22207  |  |  (240) 883-6434

© National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals Washington DC Metro Chapter.
All rights reserved.

NAPO-WDC is a legal entity separate and distinct from NAPO, Inc. (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) and is not entitled to act on behalf of, or to bind NAPO, contractually or otherwise.

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