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.

December 15, 2012

The Island of Misfit Toys
How to deal with toys.

Step 1: Break the project down into manageable parts.
It is probably unrealistic to tackle all the toys in your home at one time. Instead, pick one shelf, drawer, or box at a time.

Step 2: Sort toys into categories.
While there are many categories for toys, here are some common ones: stuffed animals, dolls, books, vehicles, kitchen, dress up, puzzles, and games.

Step 3: Go through the toys and figure out what to keep.
Some questions to ask that will help in making this decision include: Is the toy broken or is it in good shape? Is the item played with? Is the item age appropriate? Do we have an appropriate number of those items?

Step 4: Create play zones.
It can be helpful to name the kind of play that happens in each zone. Zone examples include art, reading, or transportation. All toys that are used for each specific kind of play will go in their zone.

Step 5: Find a home within the zone for the toys that you keep.
Once you find a place to put the toys, it is important to find a way to identify the container. This will make it easier for your children to put the toys away. Identify this new home with a description (a picture) that is attached to the bin or container .

Step 6: Find a different home for what you want to get rid of.
If you know someone with a child who is younger, perhaps some of the toys that are no longer age appropriate for your children would work well for them. Put them in a labeled bag and take them to your car so you will have them the next time you and your friend get together. Put any toys that are going to a donation center in another marked bag in your car.

Last words

Toys can be a source of great joy to children and their parents. Learning how to manage toys will help make this sentiment a reality

For more organizing tips, visit 

Article submitted by Chapter member Susan Hunsberger, Professional Organizer, with Strategize Organize LLC

November 1, 2012

Moving Mountains also known as Overcoming Procrastination

“He who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”
so says a Chinese Proverb.  

We all procrastinate about something.  Sometimes it about writing blog posts about procrastination. 

Determining why you’re procrastinating can help you overcome it. 

One of the most common causes of procrastination is overwhelm, the task seems so big that you never start.  Overwhelm paralyzes.   

Overcoming overwhelm can be accomplished by taking the task at hand and breaking it down into smaller pieces until you get to the smallest next step you can actually accomplish. 

 So instead of “paying the bills” it might look like this:

·       Find a pen

·       Find the checkbook

·       Find the bills (ignore all the rest of the paper)

·       Put the bills in order by due date

·       Write the checks

·       Turn on the laptop

·       Pay the online bills

·       Find the stamps/address labels

·       Stamp/address the bills

·       Put them in your purse or car so you remember to mail them the next time you are out. 

By breaking down the job into small pieces, you can overcome the resistance to do it, no matter how big that job may be – happy organizing!

For more organizing tips, please visit

Article submitted by Chapter member, Cynthia Gentit, Professional Organizer, Eat That Elephant LLC.  Cynthia’s website is

October 15, 2012

Make your move stress free!

Moving is one of the top ten stressers in life. If you plan for the move ahead of the actual move date, it does not have to be stressful at all.  Here are some tips to make the move easy and pain free:

1.   As soon as you know you are moving, spend some free time each week going through cabinets and drawers. Don’t forget the closets, garage, and basement too. These places are where most people store things that they will use, but many of the items in these places are not looked at too often.  Ask yourself, “Do I really need this or does someone in my home really need this?”

2.   If possible, get each person in the house involved in going through items.  It will be more fun and less of a chore.

3.   Eliminate anything that no one in the house is using. Donate it to a charity and obtain a tax receipt.

4.   Only move things that will be used, and don’t waste time packing and moving unwanted items.

5.   What is being kept to store, such as children’s clothes and holiday decorations, keep in labeled bins. This way, when it gets moved, it will not have to be unpacked unless there is something breakable in it. The breakable item(s) should be packed seperately.

6.   Pack items ahead that you are not using on a daily basis. These items could include fine china, holiday decorations, and out-of-season clothing.

7.   Keep paper plates, napkins, cups, and plastic utensils unpacked and available to use during the last few days at the current house and to use the first few days at the new house.  Be sure to prepare some meals ahead or purchase some lunch meats and bread for sandwiches. Don’t forget the bottled water too.

8.   Make a list of movers, their availability dates and prices.  Keep this information in a spiral notebook so it stays together. When you have secured a move time, call the mover and use the research you have already done to secure the actual date.   

9.   If possible, allow about a month lead time to secure the mover. Allow an even longer lead time for a long-distance move.

10.  Keep in mind that it takes about ten days to transfer mail, so plan accordingly when sending the address change form to the Post Office.   

“Moving is an opportunity to get rid of the things you no longer use or that you don’t find a useful purpose for in your life”, said Angie Weid, Professional Organizer with Organized Solutions.

Preparing for a move can be easier than you think.  For more organizing tips, visit 

Article submitted by Chapter member Theresa Brune, Professional Organizer, Simplify It

October 1, 2012

Get Organized - Simplify!

When applied together, these two concepts can go a long way toward creating a better quality of life for all of us.  After all, who would not like to gain more control over our surroundings and have more time to relax?  Members of the National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan are all about helping others live simply and embrace the organized lifestyle that most people crave.  Here are some tips to get started.

Clear the clutter:  Move out things that no longer fit, that you don’t enjoy or love, or that don’t meet your present needs.  Make some thoughtful decisions about what items are really vital to your everyday existence!

Plan your day:  Each evening compile a basic to-do list for the following day.  Be sure you are realistic in what goals you can truly accomplish in the limited time you have available.

Get help:  If you absolutely abhor gardening or housework, or are not very good at it, consider engaging the services of a professional.  It will save you time and money in the long run.

Set priorities:  Determine what you really value and strive to be congruent with those values.  If you desire to spend more time with your family, are your activities supporting that desire?

Streamline your systems:  Look at your errand, mail processing, email or laundry routines. How can you improve on these so that they are not undermining your precious time?  For example, run all errands together that are located in the same part of town. 

Achieving simplicity in our lives can indeed be a positive, life-changing process. More information on this and other organizing topics can be found at

Article submitted by Chapter Member, Rita A. Wilhelm – Cluttergone LLC,

July 15, 2012

When you need a Paperclip, can you find one?

If you can’t find one when you need one, it’s probably time to organize your desk.

The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to share some tips on how to organize your desk, whether it’s at home or the office.

1. First think about whether you are a person who likes things in sight, or out of sight. One good rule of thumb is to only keep within arm’s reach, those office supplies that you use on a daily basis. If you like things out, find a nice tray to put out those items on your desk. Or install a narrow shelf, 5 inches deep, above your desk so items like a stapler and tape dispenser are within reach but off the work surface of the desk.

If you like things kept out of sight, keep these items in a drawer or decorative box on whatever side you write with. People are most comfortable using their dominant hand to reach for things so place things where you can easily reach in the drawer for them.

2. For those items that were in your desk that you use less frequently, like spare printer cartridges, find a place further away from your desk, like a nearby closet, to store those items.

3. A kitchen silverware tray can make a good drawer organizer for things like smaller items like pens, pencils, staples, and paper clips. Label the side or bottom of the divided areas in the tray so everyone knows where an item goes back.

Lastly, if you find yourself having to go to your desk repeatedly to get an office supply like scissors that you use elsewhere, buy yourself an additional pair to keep where you tend to use it, whether it’s in the family room or breakroom. That way, the items in your newly-organized desk will be there the next time you need them.

Organizing your desk can be easier than you think. For more organizing tips visit

Article submitted by Chapter member Cindy Greenleaf.

June 15, 2012

Ideas for Sharing a Workspace

Do you share a workspace with someone? The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan has some ideas to help you organize your area.

1. Label spaces where shared desk supplies go. Use a label maker (or piece of tape and a marker) and put the label (or the tape) right on the surface or shelf where the desk supply goes, then place the objects on top of the label. Do this for all your supplies: stapler, tape, dispenser, scissors, ruler, etc.

For supplies that go inside a container (paperclips, rubber bands, tacks, pencils, pens) you may want to label the inside wall of the container.

May 30, 2012

School's Out! Six Tips for a Smooth Transition to Summer

Swing productively into summer with these tips from the National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan:

1.  Empty (and wipe) your child's lunchbox and backpack right away.  Can they be used next year, or will they need replacement?

2.  Assess your child's homework space and habits.  What's successful about the current setup?  What could use improvement?  For an amazing wealth of ideas, we recommend the book The Organized Student, written by NAPO member Donna Goldberg.
3.  Set aside time to review accumulated school papers and projects from the year. Select the best "keepers," and recycle the rest.  Photograph anything over sized or 3D. Then discard as they don’t keep well.  How much paper to hang on to?  Aim for a one inch stack or 100 sheets per academic year; that’s 13 inches or 1300 sheets of paper over the course of a K-12 academic career!  Mindy Fairbanks, of Fairbanks Solutions and Chapter member, points out that a 13 pocket accordion file is an excellent storage solution for each child’s K-12 “keepers.”   If your child wants to keep everything, try purging papers from September through January at the beginning of summer.  Handle the rest in late August, when excitement over the upcoming school year makes it easier to let go of last year's stuff.

4.  Evaluate school supplies & make a back-to-school shopping list now.  Tackle the shopping--with your child--a little at a time over the summer!

5.  Set some goals for summer bridge learning; have your child sign up for the public library's summer reading program.

6.  Establish a schedule and routine for the summer.  “With kids home and around the house for more hours of each day, the beginning of the summer is a great time for the whole family to revisit the rules of the house, and to integrate organizing principles such as ‘take it out, put it away’ into the daily routine,” said Nia Spongberg of Spruced Up Spaces LLC and Chapter member.

Helping your child manage the end of the school year is a great chance to teach organizing skills that they'll use their whole lives!

For more organizing tips, visit

Article submitted by Chapter member Melanie Sobocinski, owner of Prof Organizer LLC,

May 15, 2012

Six Tips for Getting your Craft Room Craft-Worthy!

Lots of people are doing crafts these days. You never know when the urge will strike to work on a craft.

The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to share some tips to get your craft room organized so you can get right to the fun!

1. Try to set up zones in the room for the crafts you like to do. Having a dedicated spot to work and having the craft supplies handy will make it easier to be inspired and produce beautiful items.

2. Store like items together. So if you make scrapbook pages, keep all your decorative scissors in one jar or drawer. The same for having all your scrapbooking papers together so you can see what you have and what would be best for your next page.

3. If you have lots of rolls of ribbon, threading them on a paper-towel holder is a great way to wrangle the rolls. If you want the rolls to be portable, use a vertical dispenser made for sitting on the kitchen counter. If you’ve got upper cabinets, mount one horizontally from the underside of the cabinet.

4. Pringles chip cans with lids make great dust-free storage for paint brushes or knitting needles. They can be painted or covered with contact paper to match the room’s decor. Be sure to label them. They can also be stored upright or lying down so they’re very versatile.

5. Pegboard is a great way to make great use of the vertical wall space in the craft room. It can be painted after installation to blend in or stand out. They make dozens of types of inexpensive hooks and holders to have various types of small crafting items. And if you switch crafts, you can move the hooks to fit your new crafting needs.

6. Three-level pantry shelves are lightweight and perfect for storing spray paint cans so you can see the lid colors easily at a glance.

 Organizing your craft supplies can be fun. For more organizing tips visit  

Article submitted by Chapter member Cindy Greenleaf

May 1, 2012

Laundry Extras

Is laundry a dreaded chore for your family? Why not try one of these simple organizing tips from the National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan to help make it little easier.

For laundry, we generally know how to handle the light and dark clothes. Our laundry system breaks down, however, when we are confronted with articles of clothing that falls outside of the typical load.

April 15, 2012

What’s Picasso’s mother to do?

Got young school age children? Every day your budding Picasso seems to bring home a fresh work of art for your enjoyment. It all can be overwhelming. After all, the front of the fridge is only so big….

The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan has a few suggestions to help keep the artwork under control:

April 1, 2012

Clutter in Your Car Driving you Crazy?

Whether you are a sales representative, soccer mom, busy college student or just a person on the go, keeping a neat and tidy vehicle can seem like a monumental task. Especially when statistics show the average American spends approximately three hours in their vehicle per day!

The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to share some tips on organizing your vehicle:

1. Keep important papers like proof of insurance, registration and maintenance logs in the glove box. Also, keep your owner’s manual there for quick reference, like when you have to change the time on the clock twice a year!

March 15, 2012

Does your kitchen resemble a “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle?

The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to share some tips on organizing your kitchen.

Instead of spending valuable time sifting through countless items you rarely use to get to that one you need, here are four ways to make your kitchen much easier to navigate.

March 1, 2012

Has Your Basement become a Home for Homelss Things?

Basements can become a place for those items that we intend to deal with later. It’s so easy to forget all the things we have down there because we don’t see them every day.

The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to share some ways to get your basement organized so that everything has a home.

1. Safety first. Make sure to clear the steps down to the basement of any items that are resting there. Make sure the path is clear so no one gets hurt.

February 1, 2012

Organizing your Valentine’s Day!

When you think of the month of February, romance, flowers, and chocolates come to mind. The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan wants to help you plan a memorable evening for your special valentine.

January 1, 2012

Start the New Year More Organized

“Getting organized” is a common New Year Resolution. The National Association of Professional Organizers in Michigan offers these simple suggestions to help you get more organized this year.

1. Organize Your Wallet. First, empty the contents of your wallet, such as: credit cards, gift cards, reward cards, expired coupons, etc. Then, reevaluate what you want to keep in your wallet. For example, many stores can access your reward program account with your phone number, thus eliminating the need to carry the reward card in your wallet. Lastly, only place those items you need and use regularly back into your wallet.