NAPO Michigan Blog / Media Center

The Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers invites you to explore this blog so you can be informed of the latest news, events and trends in the organizing industry.

May 18, 2015

Strategies for Organizing Your Sports Equipment

Sports equipment can become a frustrating, jumbled mess if you don’t have a good strategy and system for keeping it organized. This can translate into big headaches when you’re scrambling to get the kids out the door to soccer practice or rushing to make your tee time. What follows are four key considerations and associated suggestions for helping keep all your gear and accessories in order so you can enjoy your athletic pursuits to the fullest.

(1)   Pick A Zone

Begin by identifying and designating one zone – such as a corner of your garage, or a closet in your entryway – that will serve as the storage area for all of your sports equipment. Ideally this zone will be easily accessible in order to facilitate easy-come, easy-go use.

(2)   Sort Into Categories

Next, walk around your entire home and gather up every single piece of sports equipment you own. Bring all of it to your new storage zone. Now, sort the items into the following six categories. As you sort, be sure to get rid of any equipment which is damaged or unsafe to use, or which is no longer relevant (your kids have outgrown it, you no longer play that sport, etc): 

1.      Long Things:  bats, sticks, clubs, racquets, skis, sleds, fishing poles, etc.

2.      Things That Go:  balls, pucks, birdies, darts, kites, etc.

3.      Protective Gear:  baseball mitts, goggles, helmets, pads, mouth guards, etc.

4.      Clothing: uniforms, hats, etc.

5.      Footwear: cleats, rollerblades, skates, ski boots, etc.

6.      Accessories:  bike pumps, water bottles, fishing tackle, golf cart batteries, scuba tanks, etc.

(3)   Add Structure

Now, take a close look at what you’re keeping. Take time to thoughtfully envision how much space each category will require in your storage zone, and how the categories might be optimally arranged within the space. Also consider the specific type of storage (within in a bin or basket? resting on a shelf? hanging on the wall?) that’s best suited for each category. If you don’t already have appropriate storage structures in place, now is the time to obtain and install them. Below are some storage systems I like, as well as specific strategies for each category.

Storage Systems We Like for Sports Equipment

1.      Chrome shelving unit with pull-out bins, from Frontgate:

2.      Elfa products for sports gear, from The Container Store:

Specific Storage Strategies for Each Category
Long Things: Store upright in an empty garbage can or other stable barrel/bin/container; hang them from hooks on a wall/pegboard; lay them flat on a shelf; lay them flat in a saddle/cradle suspended from the ceiling.

Things That Go: Store in a see-through wire basket of appropriate size (make sure the balls aren’t smaller than the mesh openings of the basket) or in open-front, stacking crates/cubbies. For  larger balls like soccer, basketball, and footballs, mount on the wall in a Ball Claw - 

Protective Gear: Store in clear, plastic, latch-top totes (to help keep dust at bay), or in bins/baskets on shelves.

Clothing: Store in clear, plastic, latch-top totes (to help keep dust at bay), or in bins/baskets on shelves.

Footwear: Store directly on shelves, or in open-front, stacking crates/cubbies. 

Accessories: Because accessories are so numerous and varied, it’s not possible to provide a generalized storage recommendation. Instead, let the physical attributes of each item (size, shape, weight, etc) serve as clues to help you find the best storage solution.

(4)   Be A Good Steward

Things don’t stay organized on their own or simply because you have good storage structure; people keep things organized. So you will need to devote a bit of time and energy to tidying up your sports equipment zone on some regular basis. We suggest doing it four times a year with the changing of each season and corresponding change of sports. We also suggest an annual “deep-clean” where you review all your equipment, purge items that are no longer relevant, give the space a thorough cleaning, and re-organize things that have gotten out of order.


Keeping your sports equipment organized involves many of the same organizing principles that apply elsewhere in your home or office.  

·        First, assign a home to every item;

·        Store like items together;  

·        Keep things off the floor by making optimal use of vertical (wall) space;

·        Make sure everyone who uses the space knows where and how things are stored (labeling can really help facilitate this); and

·        Use clear/see-through containers that make it easy to see items and return them to their homes.

For further inspiration, you may wish to do a web search or a search within Pinterest with keywords such as “sports equipment storage”.

Written by NAPO Michigan Chapter member Nia Spongberg of Spruced Up Spaces, LLC.

April 1, 2015

Michigan Organizers Help Lift Spirits

Members of the Southeast Michigan Chapter of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO-MI) regularly give back to their community by volunteering to organize the spaces of a local non-profit organization. On April 10, 2015, NAPO-MI members will participate in a project to support Kadima, a Southfield-based nonprofit that serves individuals in Oakland County who have chronic and persistent mental illness.

The Kadima staff does a tremendous job serving their community, which leaves them very little time to optimize their working environment. NAPO-MI members will help to organize Kadima’s Lois and Milton Y. Zussman Activity Center that provides daily activities such as psycho-educational classes, art lessons, craft projects, tutoring, outings, volunteer service projects, music, and more. The Center offers Kadima clients needed opportunities for social, recreational and peer interactions.

On April 10th, members of NAPO-MI will step up to help organize their space by decluttering and optimizing storage of arts and crafts supplies, games and exercise equipment, closets and common areas, laundry and kitchen supplies, and staff offices. Kadima is purchasing organizing equipment at cost and members of NAPO-MI are donating their services and supplies for the event, which will take place from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm at Kadima’s Lois and Milton Y. Zussman Activity Center, 15999 West Twelve Mile Road, Southfield MI 48076.

The National Association of Professional Organizers was established in 1985 and now boasts over 4,000 members in the U.S. and 23 other countries. The Southeast Michigan chapter,, came into being in 2003, and currently has 35 professional organizers and 6 associate members in related industries.

Kadima is a non-profit social service agency that provides services to individuals diagnosed with chronic and persistent mental illness and support for their families. Services include outpatient therapy, case management, residential options, transportation and social activities. Kadima is committed to provide community education and advocacy to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their families affected by psychiatric disabilities and to reduce the stigma so often associated with mental illness. Learn more at

March 23, 2014

Smartphone alarms + thematic music = Less Nagging

Do you look up at the clock in the morning and realize that, yes, your family is behind schedule, again?

Do you have a hard time remembering to stop to eat lunch, leave for the day, or floss your teeth?
Consider enlisting your smartphone for help! Set thematic songs as alarm ringtones for critical or forgettable parts of your routines.

Songs catch our attention more than clocks or even timers, and are easily recognized by kids too young to read a clock.
Start by picking one or two trouble spots. These might be transitions, like waking or leaving for school, or good habits you want to cultivate, like consistently eating lunch or cleaning your desk before stopping for the day.

This playlist can get you started: 
Add more songs as necessary to support your family’s daily routine. With small kids, songs every 5-10 minutes throughout morning routine and bedtime routine makes it easier to be firm and consistent, improves everyone’s ability to estimate time, and replaces nagging with dancing!

It might take some experimenting to find out which times work best for each step, and which steps need to be added. Ask the kids which songs would keep them on track, and what they want a reminder about! Challenge the kids to “beat the pajama song.”
Every few months, delete any alarms that you regularly ignore, adjust the times of others if needed, and add new songs to keep things fresh and relevant.

And be sure to listen to Kate Carpenter’s song “Orderly and Organized.” If professional organizers had a theme song, this might be it!  The link is:

Organizing your routines is easier than you think!  For more organizing tips, visit 

Article written by Melanie Sobocinski, of Prof Organizer LLC, NAPO Chapter Member.

March 22, 2014

Michigan Organizers Don't Fool Around!

Members of the Michigan Chapter of National Association of Professional Organizers will give back to their community by volunteering to organize the offices and storage areas of a local non-profit organization.  Habitat for Humanity Detroit helps build affordable homes for working families and eliminates poverty housing.  The Habitat staff does a tremendous job serving their community which leaves them very little time to organize their working environment.
On April 1st, there will be “No Fooling Around” as members of NAPO-MI will step up to organize their space by decluttering work areas including desktops, desk drawers, and file cabinets.  Storage areas for several areas will also be revamped, if time permits.  Members of NAPO-MI are donating their services and supplies for the event which will take place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Habitat Offices located at 14325 Jane Street in Detroit.


March 19, 2014


As a caregiver, it is a constant challenge to keep balanced and organized.  Of course, the best way to get organized is to have a plan of action BEFORE a crisis occurs.

However, if you become a caregiver unexpectedly, these lists and tips from the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers will help your family prioritize what needs to be done.  

In either situation, involve your loved one as much as possible, carefully considering his or her input.

Access to Documents: 

·        Medical: medical directives, DNRs, Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Wills, disability/health/dental/long term care/life insurance, contact information for all doctors, detailed information regarding prescriptions.  

·        Personal:  will, birth/marriage/divorce certificates, driver’s license, organ donation, military record, passport/visa, Durable Power of Attorney.

·        Financial: banking, deeds, loans and bills, investments.

·        Final wishes regarding funeral arrangements/wake, music, passages to be read, officiate. 

Family Meetings/Updates:

·        Share this opportunity with others to give back. Family members, friends, church family, etc. can do something to help Grandpa, or you (prepare a meal, laundry, errands.)  Say “yes please!” to assistance – everyone will benefit.  

·        Identify action items, and assign each task a level of importance.  Set priorities first, taking care of less important details later.

·        Discuss what needs to be done, by whom, how often and for how long, how it will be paid for, and at what location.

·        Embrace the theme of simplification regarding physical space, schedules, obligations and responsibilities to make way for new and evolving circumstances. 


·       Remember your personal needs.  You will need to refuel, gain perspective, and work through any number of frustrations.  Know your limits and respect them.

·       Lean on the healing power of relationships and emotional support.  Family nights, outings, visits from friends, activities, phone calls, or conversation can take both your minds off illness temporarily.

·       Utilize online tools: from caregiver calendars, lists and charts to support groups.

·       Give everyone a generous learning curve, including you and the patient.  Work hard to let go of perfection and hyper-vigilance in things that don’t really matter.  What really matters in this chapter of your life, and perhaps the last chapter of your loved one, is love.

Written by Jennifer Asselin, Professional Organizer with Living Arrangements Professional Organizing.

For additional information on getting organized, please visit

February 15, 2014

Tackling Clutter at Work – Keys to an Organized Office

The Michigan chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers wishes to share some tips for reducing clutter at your office.  Greater organization at work results in increased job satisfaction, more time, and less stress – all of which contribute positively to one’s quality of life.

There are several areas that commonly challenge people at their offices.  They include the desk; papers and files; storage systems; and emails. 
The desk should be our office’s “command central,” which is free of extraneous items that can affect our productivity.  Limit the top of our desk to the items we use and need on a regular basis.
Papers and files should be dealt with routinely so that things do not pile up.  We need to have a good system for processing mail and keeping track of important deadlines.   Basic paper management allows for easy retrieval of documents within one’s file cabinet.  A file index will help to find a particular item in short order. 

We should also use our storage systems efficiently.  For example, manuals and catalogs which we refer to only rarely should not crowd out our immediate work area.  Aim to have nearby only those things which are necessary to the everyday operations of our office.  The rest can be kept off site, whether in a storage closet or even in a remote facility.
Finally, emails often constitute another source of office clutter.  If we let them, they can easily consume a great deal of time.  Instead of constantly monitoring our inbox, set aside 2 or 3 times a day for reading and responding to emails.  Organize them as you would regular papers.  Set up specific folder categories for emails so that you can locate them at a later date.  Use the “out of office” reply and make the “delete” key your friend.

NAPO Michigan has been pleased to offer these helpful hints for organizing your office.  For further organizing tips, please visit
Submitted by Michigan chapter Member Rita Wilhelm, Cluttergone® LLC.  Website:

December 1, 2013

Organization Tips for Your Baby’s Nursery

So, you’ve had a baby.  Congratulations!  Now you want to know, “What just happened to my house?”

Adding a family member into a currently smoothly-running family unit can really upset the apple cart of organization and fluidity.  Here are a few ideas from a Mom who’s been there and a new Grandma who is back in that same boat with you. 

  • Simplify.  The simpler, the better.  Life runs smoother without all of the distractions of ‘stuff’.  Our children require less ‘stuff’ than the media and family lead you to believe.

  • Diapering Area.  It’s all about the supplies and having them on hand and within your reach.  We all know to never leave a baby on a changing table alone or even without one hand on their wiggly fast moving little body.  Be safe.  Have all of your supplies near.

  • Bed.  Make sure that your crib and/or pack-n-play meet the requirements of safety for your child.  Keep the height of the mattress at the best height for their safety; this will eliminate nap time escapes as they grow older.

  • Make wise choices.  You really don’t need to have a bounce chair, a cradle chair, a high chair, a saucer/walker chair, etc.  Choose two which work best for you and your child. As your child grows, so will their needs and the chairs really will switch up and change for you.

  • Books.  You can never have too many!  This is the best alternative to all of those toys.  Story Time is Imagination Time.  Children learn facts, have adventures, travel and play – all between the covers of a book. 

  • Toys.  You are the parent; at this point in their life, you control just how much comes in to your home and their bedrooms.  Baskets easily contain the countless small stuffed toys; while building a cube unit with cute canvas boxes works wonders to store the toys as your baby grows into a toddler.
    Rotate the toys as your child grows; pack them up and keep for the next child or donate to someone else who could really use those infant toys. 

  • Gifts.  Always welcomed; although, not always necessary.  A few suggestions for Grandma, Aunts and Friends: the child does not require a new toy every time that they stop by.  Gifts in their piggy bank or even savings bonds are welcome for the child’s future.  Be creative; come up with some workable ideas for your family. 

There are so many different ideas, from so many different sources.  Use your heart and mind to make decisions on what works best for you as you organize your baby’s nursery.

Submitted by Chapter Member Kathy Tucker, Finally Organized, LLC.

November 15, 2013


Small closets and large shoe collections can be an issue for many. 
If you share this client’s problem, consider any wall space as potential storage. 
In this photo, we had a 5” inset from the door to the wall so we installed 8” deep shelving (from IKEA). 

Choose shelving that mounts on side brackets so there are no brackets under the shelves to interfere with the shoe storage. 
We used a pre-existing shoe rack below to double the storage space.  

Putting flats on the rack & heels on the shelves minimized the footprint allowing easy access to the rest of her closet.
Article submitted by Chapter member Cynthia Gentit, Eat That Elephant! LLC.
For more organizing tips, go to

October 15, 2013

Organize your Teenager Once and for All!?

Organizing and teens usually do not appear in the same sentence.  In fact, most teens dread being asked to do anything by a parent, especially if it resembles a chore!

These simple tips from the National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan will help your teen get and stay organized:

1.      Start with a home tour.  Make sure your teens know where household supplies/items are kept.  They can’t put them away if they don’t know where they go.  This is especially true for cleaning and office supplies.

2.      Use calendars to keep track of activities and schedules.  A family calendar kept in a kitchen is a great place for everyone to coordinate their schedules.  Using a different colored highlighter for each member makes it easy for all to see.  A teen might also want their own calendar/planner to keep in their room.

3.      Create specific areas for teens.  Most teens are involved in sports or other activities where they need to keep their gear.  Having a shelf in a garage or laundry room dedicated to those activities will make it easier for things to be put away and not plopped at the doorstep.

4.      Update their bedrooms.  By this, I mean help teens pack away things they have outgrown.  Special things can be stored in bins.  Clothes can be donated or taken to resale shops.  Let teens have a say in the way their rooms are decorated or arranged.  It might just make them keep it tidy.
Organizing your teen is easier than you think! 
For more organizing tips, visit

Article submitted by Chapter member, Susan Carmody,

October 14, 2013

Downsizing Tips for Seniors

This article is designed to offer seniors pertinent advice on the subject of “getting organized” in your golden years. For most seniors, this is a process of “downsizing” and taking stock of affairs and priorities.


Human nature compels us to collect and guard our resources, and society has taught us to own and consume. So it is not surprising that by the time many people reach “senior citizen” status at the age of 65, they have accumulated an impressive amount of stuff. Beyond the living spaces of our homes, our attics, basements, garages, and storage units have become filled with the stored treasures of time. For many, these belongings are an important reflection and reminder of the lives they’ve led and ultimately “who they are.” There can come a point, however, when these belongings become more of a burden than a blessing for seniors, and for a variety of reasons – often relating to practicality and safety – they eventually feel a strong, natural compulsion or experience a sudden, pressing need or to downsize.


Downsizing is commonly understood to be the process of simplifying one’s life by reducing the volume of your belongings through a sorting and purging process. Downsizing can also involve reducing the number of commitments, activities, or other “things” which require your time, energy, money, and other resources. Fundamentally, downsizing involves reviewing, evaluating, and re-organizing your stuff, affairs, and priorities so that you can free up space in your life – both physical and mental. There are many reasons that that seniors elect to downsize. Not wanting to burden loved ones with having to “deal with their affairs” once they’ve passed away is one common reason. Moving into a smaller space that cannot accommodate all of their belongings – such as to a retirement, assisted living, or nursing home – is another common reason. Whatever your reason, there are seven tips that I’d like to share as I believe they will make your downsizing experience more successful.


(1)   Honor Yourself

Society often makes the insulting and very unfair error of assuming that all seniors are “incapacitated” in some way or that they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. As a senior endowed with all of your mental faculties, it is very important for your dignity that you do not let these false assumptions influence your downsizing efforts. If you feel pressure from your family to downsize but have no interest in doing it, or if you and your family have different ideas about what your downsizing project should entail, speak your mind. It’s your life, your stuff, and no one has the authority to boss you around. This is not to say that I recommend excommunicating your family: I recommend thoughtful, sensitive dialogue and clear, open communication. Ultimately, you must be on board for whatever downsizing changes you are making in your life (or others are making on your behalf).

(2)   Articulate Your Goals

At the start of any organizing project, it is very important that you identify your reasons for undertaking the project (what’s been bothering you about your ‘status quo’? , why do you want to make a change and get organized, and why now?). It’s also critical that you outline a set of specific goals for the project (at the end of this project, I will have achieved X, Y, and Z). By articulating these things up front and putting them on paper, you give yourself a measuring stick to work against and an important written reminder of why you are doing this hard work. It can be inspiring and reassuring to look back at these written goals if, and when, you feel yourself losing heart partway through the project. Having these things on paper also helps the important people in your life who are involved in the project – family, caregivers, etc – to understand and feel in sync with your priorities.

(3)   Recognize Your Limits

It’s taken a lifetime to acquire the things you own, so it is not realistic to expect that you can sort and purge them in a week or two. Downsizing is generally a big job. It is going to take time. If you tire easily or have certain health conditions, it may take even more time. The process of handling your belongings – emptying closets and cupboards, lifting and sifting through boxes, etc – can be physically draining.  And deciding what to keep versus what to get rid of, as well as how to get rid of it, involves a tremendous amount of decision making that can be very tiring and emotional. It will be important that you acknowledge your emotions and pace yourself at a comfortable rate so that you don’t burn out.

(4)   Build and Rely On a Support Team

Whenever we go through big changes in our lives – marriages, births, deaths, divorces, moves, new jobs, etc. – we are best served when we reach out, ask for, and accept help. None of us is a superhero, so the support of loved ones and experts is key to making these transitions go more smoothly and be less stressful than if we try to go it alone. Beginning a major organizing project is one of these times: you are going to need the physical, emotional, and professional support of others. Family and friends may be willing to work side-by-side with you as you sit and sort through your belongings. If you’re open to it, they may also be able to offer insights for what to keep or divest yourself of, and perhaps they can do some of the heavy lifting, reach the items that are stored up high, take the trash and recycling out, drive your donation items to the local charity, etc. If you are committed to addressing not just your belongings but also your day-to-day and/or estate affairs as part of your downsizing project, you will want to consider adding folks to your team who can serve you in the areas where you need help. If you are physically disabled, do you need assistance with meal preparation, housekeeping, or personal hygiene? If you no longer drive, do you need the services of a transportation company? If you have difficulty with memory, do you need help managing your calendar and appointments? If your estate affairs are not in order, do you need the counsel of a lawyer or financial advisor? Getting professionals lined up to support you is an important part of getting organized. Professional Organizers can assist with identifying these needs and recommending service providers. As experienced, objective professionals, Professional Organizers are also able to provide hands-on help with your sorting and purging work, and we can coordinate the removal of items so that they get to the destination (charity, resale shop, etc.) of your choice. Moreover, an Organizer can teach you organizing skills, make recommendations to optimize your use of space, and design custom systems that address your unique organizing challenges.

(5)   Schedule Work Sessions

For your downsizing project to be a success, you are going to need to devote time. To make sure this happens, I suggest that you make formal “work sessions” (2-3 hours per session is typically a good length, though you should go with what feels best for you) and get these onto your schedule. If you keep a paper or electronic calendar, records your sessions into it; if you keep track of your appointments in some other way, make sure that you get these work sessions on the agenda. Take them seriously, as you would a doctor’s appointment or meeting with your accountant, and I guarantee that you will see progress!

(6)   Roll Up Your Sleeves & Achieve

To make your sorting and purging work as enjoyable and efficient as possible, I recommend that you pick a finite “zone” to address during each given work session – perhaps a closet, a dresser, a desk, a bookshelf, or a small area within the basement or garage. Always set up your work area for the day by introducing up a comfortable chair, a card table or other work surface, good lighting, and trash and recycle bins. Also make sure that you have the tools at-hand that you will need, such as post-its, markers, boxes, and tape. Then gradually work your way through the items in the zone: for each item, decide whether to keep it or divest yourself of it. If you decide to part with the item, you will need to determine where it goes – options typically include:

-        Donate the item to charity

-        Gift the item to a family member or friend

-        Sell the item via a yard sale, at a resale shop, on Craigslist, or through some other channel

-        Consign the item at a consignment shop

-        Throw away the item in the trash

-        And for papers: If no longer needed for tax, legal, financial, or others reasons, Recycle or Shred the paper based on the presence of sensitive personal information such as account numbers, date of birth, etc. 

If you encounter items which stir up emotions and leave you unsure whether to keep or divest, asking yourself these questions might prove helpful in reaching a decision. Also, try to think of things in this way: the idea isn’t to focus on getting rid of stuff, it’s to identify and retain the items which are most essential and precious to you. 

-        Do I use it? When was the last time I used it?

-        Do I love it?

-        Do I have space to reasonably store it?

-        Could someone else use it or enjoy it more than me?

-        What’s the worst case scenario if I get rid of it?

As your boxes fill up with items for charity and items to give to family, etc, I recommend that you don’t let them sit for too long – get those items out of your home as soon as possible, otherwise they may have a tendency to end up sitting around for a long time. 

(7)   Prioritize Your Safety

Earlier I mentioned that people make assumptions about seniors. I hope I am not making an unfair assumption now, but I want to talk about the importance of prioritizing safety as you work through your downsizing project. For example, be mindful of trip and slip hazards in your living space: remove cords that are in pathways on the floor, reposition furniture and other items that pose an obstacle to your movement, relocate your most frequently used items to easy-to-reach places, and so on. Also be mindful of fire hazards and ventilation: keep counters and stovetops clear, and make sure that heating vents and fans are unblocked. And if you are taking stock of your day-to-day affairs, be mindful of things like food safety (make sure you have a system in place for reviewing & throwing our foods which have passed their expiration dates) and medication safety (have a reliable system for ensuring that you take the right medicine in the right dosage at the right time of day).


Whether you’ve just turned 65 and are spry as a spring chicken, or whether you are 95 and slowing down a bit, downsizing can have a place in everyone’s lives. It’s all about freeing up space, time, and energy so that you can then devote yourself to the activities, people, and passions that bring you the greatest joy. I wish you well in your project!

For more organizing tips, visit

Article submitted by Chapter member Nia Spongberg of Spruced Up Spaces, LLC