NAPO2016 Small Changes = Big Difference

 

napo 2016

It’s just after our annual National Association of Professional Organizer’s conference, known in social media as #NAPO2016.  It’s always a high point for NAPO members as we gather to learn, share and connect in real life.  I’ve always been a fan of baby steps, and small changes = big difference.  Here’s more of what I learned at NAPO2016.

 

What struck me most this year is that Small Changes = Big Difference.

 

Small ways to connect
A small, a high five and a warm hello are all the ways we connect in small ways. These are big parts of NAPO2016.  Each session welcomed our members into the room.  Even calls of WOOT were parts of the connecting. Attendees contributed to a  star studded bulletin board of gratitude.  Creating coloring books were the sewing bee of the of conference.

 

coloring pages napo2016

Coloring pages connected members in a big way.

 

 

Small ways to change your environment
My favorite sessions at conference always include practical tips to share with clients. I learned that for families with ADHD, shifting to what is do-able is not giving a family member a pass.  It’s leveling the playing field.  Working with peace, order and calm are small ways that change the environment as I work with clients in their spaces.  Learning from statistical research of NAPO, I engaged in discussions on how adding small storage changes can create big differences in space use.

 

 

Small ways to let go of mind clutter
Scott Greenberg shared with us the challenges of mind clutter.  He called is mind set.  It’s about all the ways we talk trash to ourselves.  Our members called out as they shared their own mind clutter.  Scott suggested we remember, “I am a work in progress.”  We thrive when we are in growth mindset.

Scott also reminded us about kaizen, the Japanese concept that small changes big difference.  As we work together this year, we will keep this concept in mind during our sessions together!

 

Resources learned at NAPO2016

Impact ADHD

 

Productivityist

 

ADD Crusher

 

NAPO members shared recognition of our colleagues in a big way.

NAPO members shared recognition of our colleagues in a big way.

 

Let’s connect and start on your small change = big difference together!

Be a Leader

leadership

 

My National Association of Professional Organizer’s (NAPO) membership has provided me with education, collaboration, service opportunities and the framework for business success. I started my business in 2000 and immediately joined NAPO. In 2002, I became a charter member of NAPO Houston and have served as Chapter President, Membership Vice-President and Golden Circle Liaison.  I am currently serving NAPO at the national level as Committee Chair to the newly reinvented Membership Committee. I have also served as Conference Chair, and on the Education, Leadership Development, Statistics, and Marketing Committees. In 2013 and 2015 I was honored with the esteemed Service to NAPO Award.  Starting in May 2016, I will begin a term as President- Elect. In May 2017, I will serve for 2 years as President.

 

Serving NAPO has contributed to my business success. In surrounding myself with incredible colleagues, my business has thrived.  My colleagues are on “Team Ellen,” creating an ongoing mastermind group focused on personal and professional development.  In serving with others with a common goal, team efforts create an outcome of something more than an individual can imagine or accomplish.

 

Why share this with you?  Are you already a leader? Are you ready to make a difference?  In using our strengths and leading others, we stretch and grow. We learn different perspectives and gain clarity.  We become smarter and better.  In addition to organizing and productivity, I will be blogging about leadership here on Ellen’s blog.    The connection between leadership, organizing and productivity is clear.  The more organized you are, the more other’s look to you to lead. The more productive you are, the more time you have to serve.  Being a leader requires balance and coordination.

ADHD Resources

adhd resources

 

Learning about ADHD is ongoing learning. A wide base of knowledge is available in many different formats.  Whether you are thinking about whether you have ADHD, have recently been diagnosed, or have been diagnosed for years, these are resource to live your authentic life.  This list of associations, websites, and books is just a beginning for you.  Here’s a list of some of my favorite ADHD resources.

 

Associations

ADDA-SR

ADDA-SR mission is provide a resource  network, support individuals impacted by ADHD and related conditions and to advocate for the development of community resources.  Local to the Houston area, ADDA-SR support groups meet throughout the community monthly. Finding support makes a difference.

 

ADDA

The ADDA was founded to help adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) lead better lives.  ADDA offers Virtual Peer Support Groups and Workshops as well as webinars.  Learning online helps you know more about ADHD.

 

CHADD

CHADD improves the lives of those affected by ADHD.  CHADD offers it’s Resource Directory, Parent to Parent classes and conference.  Learning from other parents about ways to support your child makes your job easier.

 

ADHD Coaches

The ACO is the worldwide professional membership organization for ADHD Coaches.
Whether you’re a coach, looking for help, or curious about ADHD coaching, this is the association for you.  ADHD coaching supports a well balanced, goal oriented life.

 

Websites

 

Faster Than Normal

Peter Shankman shares his tricks, secrets, and hacks for daily life both professionally and personally.  Peter finds ADHD a gift!

 

Dr. Hallowell

Hosted by Edward Hallowell, this is a site for sharing ADHD resources including Top 10 findings on ADHD and Top 10 Questions about ADHD.  Dr. Hallowell is a prominent authority on ADHD.

 

ADDitudemag.com

ADDitudemag.com offers strategies and support for adults and children.  There are free weekly webinars on a variety of topics.  ADDitudemag offers a variety of information related to school, work and home.

 

Books

Smart but Scattered

The latest research on children with executive function challenges and ways to help.

 

Healing ADD

Neuropsychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD shares the multiple types of ADHD and different treatments.

 

ADD Friendly Ways to Organize

This book is a collaboration of Kathleen Nadeau and Judith Kohlberg.  The authors share the most effective and practical strategies from ADD experts in two important fields — professional organization and clinical psychology.

 

Driven to Distraction

Dr Hallowell writes about recognizing challenges from early childhood using case studies.

 

More Attention, Less Deficit

Written by Ari Tuckman, this book offers insights into the experiences of ADHD as well as tips to work through executive function challenges.

 

Learning about ADHD is a way to grow. It’s a solid support for you, your family, your friend or your co-worker.   The more you know, the more you will want to know.  Start on your journey with these resources.

 

Check out other tips and tricks for ADHD here on my blog too.

 

4 Unexpected Organizing Obstacles

obstacles to organizing

 

 

Organizing requires courage and tenacity.  With every goal we have, there are bumps in the road and obstacles we will have to face.  We often discuss the obstacles in organizing. The most frequent challenges are

  • sentimental attachments, such as gifts given with emotional attachment
  • financial obstacles, items with more value than we have used them and
  • time obstacles, just how much time do we have to organize.

 

It’s in addressing obstacles that we can find solutions for getting started.  These 4 obstacles to organizing may surprise you.  Which one may be holding you back?

Organizing is a more than one time activity

All too often I hear about the amazing organizing job my client did in 20XX.  It was a long project and then all of a sudden the office/home/filing system was again disorganized.  The obstacle to organizing is your perception that organizing need only happen once. Organizing changes as your life changes. Organizing requires steady commitment with a routine that reinforces your organizing.  When organizing is only a one time activity, it’s time to commit to a daily and weekly routine to stay on track.

The lack of “flow” in your space

Just like the balance we aspire to with home and work, organizing has a flow to it as well.  The flow of items in should match the flow of items out.  When more items come in or stuff has no movement, it becomes clutter.  Being aware of this flow as an element for organizing makes it easier to let go of items and not bring as much. When you are organizing, have a hiatus on purchasing. It’s much easier to let go of items and create a balance in your home as you are creating an organized space. As  you continue your organizing journey, think  of natural maintenance factors to maintain your flow.  For some people, one in and one out is a good strategy. For some people a seasonal decluttering makes a difference. Decide what works best for you to create a flow of items in and out.

 

Analysis paralysis

While a certain amount of complexity is required for organizing, at times you might experience analysis paralysis.  This is when you over think the organizing possibilities. It might be that you are researching too many solutions to your organizing challenges.  It might be that you have not decided how detailed your categories for filing should be. Your obstacle to organizing is the myriad of details.  When you pare down the number of organizing options, it’s easier to get started and also complete your organizing.  Another strategy is to apply the mantra, Keep it simple sweetie. The simpler the strategy the easier it is to get organized.

 

Clutter Blindness

You may not have realized how much clutter has accumulated as you go about your daily life. Your life is busy and you have a lot going on.  It’s not until there is a transition that you realize how much has become clutter in  your home or office. Once aware, it can be overwhelming and difficult.  Focus on the big picture rather than negative self talk.  Remove this obstacle to organizing with a plan.  Start with a plan that breaks your organizing into manageable chunks for you to accomplish.  It’s all about using baby steps to create an organized home or office.

 

There are valuable lessons learned as we move around these obstacles. These life lessons can apply to other challenges we have as well.  What are the obstacles you have seen as you organize? Thoughts that gave you pause as you decluttered? I look forward to hearing your ideas.

 

More ideas on getting organized in my monthly newsletter! Sign up here!

How to Add Routines to your Schedule

routines and schedules

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Remember those days in kindergarten when your day was brimming with consistency? You knew the day began with Circle Time, followed by Center Time, then Recess and Snack. With each day you anticipated what was expected and you worked hard at each activity. Having a schedule helps us be more productive with our time and energized in our efforts. There are many ways to implement structure in our day.

 

Routines, structure or patterns

“Pattern Planning” is a system recommend by Doctors John Ratey and Ned Hallowell in the book, ADD Friendly Ways to Organize by Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau. Begin with the baby steps of your big goals and then create a pattern for the day with these. This includes a regular wake up time, breakfast, exercise, morning and afternoon work times, dinner preparation and bedtime routine for the evening. This simplified pattern includes all aspects of your life.

  • For families, this is especially important in creating a positive beginning and end to the day. Decide what is most important and then add the steps to incorporate this. Decide what time you need to be out the door, and work backwards allowing plenty of time to get ready and add 10 extra minutes just in case! Create organization around the structure of the day, including a “landing strip” to place and grab back packs to head out the door. An evening routine adds time for homework, pick up, and bedtime routines.
  • For work creating a structure to your week keeps you productive.  If you assign a major theme to each day, you are sure to keep each goal moving forward. If you assign administrative tasks to the same time each day, you keep these from building up.

 

Does consistency lead to boredom?

Add fun to the routines with a new dimension such as music, variety, or partnering.

  • Add music with a play list or a pandora station just for that routine.
  • Add variety in the way you go about the routine, starting and ending with the same task or alternating the start and finish.
  • Create different partnerships for your routine.  It may be different people, a class or a timer that are your start and stop mechanisms.
  • Make it fun and wacky!

It is important to remember that “structure” is not about rigidity, it is about consistency. The pattern should be followed more frequently than not because the schedule honors your priorities rather than your distractions.

 

Writing out your perfect routine

Get started by writing out your “perfect” schedule in a grid, allowing for appropriate time to do each step. There is power in writing.  There’s power in a check list.  Block in times with an arrow for your activities. Post it in a place you will see it regularly and use a timer to help you remember.

 

Your perfect routine may revolve around one activity being the puzzle piece. That center puzzle piece can make the difference.  That’s when other activities fall into place because you have accomplished one task first. If you read, meditate or exercise first in the morning, your other routines may work better as a result. If you do your first Most Important Task early in the day, the rest of the day works better.

 

Add a bit to your existing routine

One of the most successful ways to create a routine is to add a new routine to an existing routine. You may think you have no routines. However there is always something small you can build on.  If you want to do more exercise as a routine, add it on by going to a gym on the way home. If you want to build in better nutrition habit, add in one item to your existing grocery run.  Just adding in one small change to an existing routine makes it easier to find success.

 

 

A routine adds efficiency and effectiveness to our day by helping us focus on a specific activity. But more importantly, consistency makes for peace of mind and positive energy and of course we all want that!

 

More ideas on productivity here on my newsletter!

Houston Helping Houston

houston helping houston flooding

 

 

Thinking of our fellow Houstonians, Houston has been helping Houston. Here are three resources to help you think about small ways to help others in our city.

 

City of Houston Storm Recovery 

American Red Cross

Houston Flood Resources Facebook Group

We can all find a small way to make a difference for our community.

Spring organizing to create a Capsule Wardrobe

 

capsule wardrobe

It’s not your typical wardrobe.  The concept of the capsule wardrobe was started in the 1970s as essential, traditional pieces that make up a complete wardrobe. It includes just a fraction of the items we have in our closets typically, but all the items we currently love!  With all the interest in minimalism and essentialism, is this the time for your spring organizing to focus on building a capsule wardrobe?

What items are included?

A capsule wardrobe includes a total of 40 items.  It includes tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets, sweaters and shoes.  Start with a color palette that you love. Build pieces that work together, that can be layered and that can be paired.  Add in accessories that add sparkle to your items. This includes scarves and jewelry.

 

Why organize to create a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe pulls together all the elements of simplicity. You can wear all of the clothes in your closet, rather than just the 20% we typically wear. You love all the clothes you have so you are energized and ready to go in the morning. You save money because there is no extra spending on sale items, items you purchase without a matching piece and no impulse purchases.  Most especially you have more outfits than you ever imagined.  Mixing and matching from your capsule wardrobe brings out creativity.

Pulling together your favorites

Get started with what you love already in your closet now. Pull items that work together.  Start discarding what still has tags and does not match your capsule wardrobe.  Enjoy your new attire!  Becoming more mindful of your purchases and making it easier to get ready in the morning are side benefits of this new adaptation of your closet.

 

More closet organizing ideas here!

 

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3 Steps to Organizing Exterior Spaces

 

organize outside organize exterior space

 

Spring weather invites us back into our yards.  Your yard might include gardens, decks, a pool or a solely a green space.  It might be a space for you to rejuvenate or entertain.  No matter the use, you are creating an organized and functional space to enjoy for the season.

 

Freshen up

Your space needs freshening up. That might be power washing, pruning or general maintenance.  Make a list of what needs to be done. Decide if you are going to do the work or if you are going to delegate it.  Set a date an time on your calendar after excessive pollen has ended or other inclement weather.  Working with a team makes this work move quickly.

 

Get organized with your tools for freshening up. Set aside a space in  your garage specifically for your outside tools.  It’s easier to work when everything is together and ready to use. Use vertical shelving to keep your garden tools and sprays together.

 

 

 

Organize your zones

Just like inside your home, your outside has many different uses.  Organize by zones for entertaining and activity.  If you have seating, be sure you have company comforts like tables to place food or drinks.  If you have sports, be sure you have bins to store racquets, balls or other accessories.  Sit or stand in your spot and think about what you will use there and how to store it.

 

Large covered chests can help you store items.  Be sure you use one chest to store a single item. Use a chest for pillows, a chest for toys and a chest for sports.  Small items fall to the bottom so add a small shoe box size plastic bin to hold these.  Be sure you have ample garbage cans for trash.

 

Pottery Barn storage

Pottery Barn storage

 

Maintain your space

Every space needs a little work throughout the season. It may be small repairs. It may be storms or wind.  Keep you space maintained with a quick weekly walk through that gets all items back to where they belong and organized.

 

Pottery Barn storage

Pottery Barn storage

 

Step up your organizing this year with my monthly newsletter

How to Keep Organized Until the End of School

organized for school

 

 

It’s the last quarter of the school year and summer is around the corner. It’s also the hardest time to keep motivated for students.  Regardless of whether your student had a successful school year or not, you want to help them end strong. Here are 4 tips to keep in mind as you keep organized until the end of school.

 

Keep organized with routines

As it stays lighter longer, it’s harder to keep your evening routines in place. It’s also hard to get up as daylight comes later.  Keep routines like homework time and evening wind down at the same hour as all year long. A good night’s rest makes it easier to get up in the dark. Starting homework and packing up the back pack at the same time makes sure that all homework is completed and returned to school.

 

Keep prioritizing organization

At this point if you look in your student’s backpack, there’s papers everywhere and no order in binders.  Get everything back in order with your student once a week to keep organization a priority.  Remove the papers that are not needed in school and place these in an accordion file that stays at home to use for semester exams.  Replace pens, pencils and other tools so the back pack is fully stocked for work.

 

Keep organized with visual reminders

Your student’s planner may not be used completely as they slip into the “why does it matter now” phase of school.  Use post it notes and dry erase boards to help reminder them why writing in their planner matters.  Use your family calendar and family meeting to share your own stories of why you write stuff down.  Most student’s hate being told what to do, so keep reminders visual.

 

Keep the end in mind as you move through the final phases of the school year.  It’s about keeping on keeping on!  A big finish makes the year as successful as can be.

 

More tips for student organizing here!

Spring Clean and Organize Your Closet

spring organizing

Our closets are our best friends and our worst enemies. Lurking in there are all sizes of clothes, keepsakes from our youth, elastic that has no elasticity and shoes that are completely fabulous but totally uncomfortable.  It’s time to get in gear and make closet decisions.  Use these tips to spring clean and organize your closet.

 

 

Evaluate then eliminate

A major source of closet problems is clothes clutter. By honestly evaluating the need and use of the items in your closet, you will find space galore! Place a sturdy handle bag in your closet to place clothes or items that are too old, too small or large, or just “not you” to donate to a worthy cause. Keep only what makes you look and feel fabulous.  Each time you take a blouse off a hanger and it does not work, place it in the bag! Think about what works together and if you have nothing that matches a certain piece. If you have professional wardrobe items, you can donate these to Dress for Success all year long. For tax donation values, use Its Deductible to create a tax deduction as well.  These lots of consignment as well in your neighborhood for trendy well cared for clothes.

Organize your space most effectively

Do you see white wall above, below or around the items in your closet? If so, there are many options to maximize the space in your closet. Double rods double your space! Use a shoe organizer to convert the back of your closet door to hidden extra space. It can be used for scarves, jewelry or other items.

Time to containerize

Looking for a certain pair of shoes? Are your scarves wadded up in a drawer, hard to find? Clear containers with labels are the way to go! Different shapes and sizes can be used to maximize your space.

 

Hangers, hangers everywhere

The first step to a more visually appealing closet is to use consistent hangers for your wardrobe. Available inexpensively, choose slim line hangers for those hard to hang items. You will find these hangers add uniformity and a visual sense of order. And remember, when you remove an item from the hanger, take the hanger off the shelf, and store it nearby for the garment to return!

 

Daily Routine

This is the Organized You – your evening routine to help you keep organized! Everyone needs a daily organization time, time to put away items and to get items prepared for the next day. Set up hooks over the door for those items that are not yet dirty enough to dry clean or launder.  When you put off organizing daily, it becomes a major chore.

 

More ideas on organizing every space in  your home.  Join my newsletter!

 

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