Why is it so hard to let go of stuff?


The statistics say it all. Perhaps we have a problem with keeping too much stuff?

  •  In the U.S., 65% of self-storage renters have a garage in their home, 47% have an attic, and 33 percent have a basement. This suggests that Americans have more things than their homes allow them.
  • Over the past 40 years, the self-storage industry has proven to be the one of the sectors with the most rapid growth in the U.S commercial real estate industry.
  • While 92 % of homeowners surveyed described their home as somewhat or very organized, one fourth of them admitted embarrassment with the garage and nearly one third said they keep their garage door shut so others won’t see the mess.
  • The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years.

General reasons

There’s a problem with letting go of our stuff.  In working with my clients, I find that there are typically 6 reasons why it’s hard to let go of stuff.

  • Financial reasons hold people back.  I could be that we purchased an item and we have not used it. Maybe it’s the clothes with tags on them in your closet or the beany babies that could be sold.  If we think it’s valuable, we postpone the decision of decluttering since we are not sure to sell it or give it away.
  • Attachments and sentimental reasons make decisions difficult.  The item represents something special about a person, like your grandmother’s silver tea set.  Will you be a “bad” parent if you throw away some of your child’s artwork?  Are you the “caretaker” of your family legacy by holding onto your mom’s paperweight collection and can’t let it go?  There’s feelings of guilt, shame, and vulnerability that are a part of the sentimental reasons that hold you back.  In addition there’s grief bound up in our attachments. Loss can look like unemployment, divorce, broken relationships.  Grief holds us back in paralyzing our decisions.
  • With brain based conditions, such as ADHD, clutter can be paralyzing.  In the ADHD brain, it’s hard to limit the amount of stuff and all things have possibility. There’s perfectionism and the thought there is the perfect system which eludes you.  Because of working memory challenges, ADHD causes you to keep stuff just to remember about it.  There’s impulsive purchases and difficulty prioritizing. Not only is accumulating clutter a challenge, but also the decisions to let stuff go is hard.
  • We are busy! There’s seldom a time we have free time or will get around to organizing.  It’s a low priority because we want to spend time doing what we love and with people we love. It’s easy to procrastinate about letting go and decluttering because we have so much to do each day.
  • There are skills that we might not know to organize. Perhaps your family was not organized and you lived in much clutter.  Do you wonder what papers to keep and what to let go of? Does everything have a “home”? Are items grouped together that are used together? There are key concepts to being organized.
  • We attach our dreams to our stuff. We think we might have a special tea with our daughter and need those tea cups.  Our family will be eating a special dinner together on each of those sets of dishes.

There’s a shift going on, however.  Essentialism, minimalism, relationships, and experiences are becoming the norm.  Americans are re-prioritizing.  The book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up is a best seller.

  • There’s many ways to recoup some of the money you spent. While you can’t recoup it all,  there are many ways to sell your items. There’s Facebook sales and NextDoor to sell items to your neighbors. There are consignment shops of all types.  In terms of donations, you can make a list and use this for a tax deduction.
  • Is it time to process and find new perspectives about your emotional attachments and how let go of stuff?  Without processing or new awareness about an attachment, we can get stuck.  We can process with a professional organizer, coach, therapist or non-judgemental friend.  How we process can make a difference. We can talk through the challenges, tell the story of the item, and acknowledge. As Brene Brown talks about in Daring Greatly, we can have a small ceremony or share a story about your stuff.
  • Learn more about ADHD and other brain conditions to know what organizing is difficult.  On ADDitudemag.com there are webinars, blogs and articles on decluttering. The book ADD Friendly Ways to Organize offers many ways to learn about ADHD and clutter.  Podcasts such as Taking Control with Niki Kinzer offers support, tools and community for ADHD.
  • We have to set a time to organize and set a time to organize routinely. Organizing moves up in priority this way.  Write in on your calendar or set a digital date to declutter.
  • What’s the best way for you to learn skills? Is it working alongside a professional organizer? Is it reading a book?  Choose what’s best for you to learn and practice.
  • Start a new awareness of why you have what you have.  You might notice how many of an item you have which might lead you to think about what you are purchasing.  Spend time assessing.


Think about your home, your energy and your vision of your life. Is it time to assess your stuff?


Click here to view the CBS Sunday Morning show, Clean Sweep.


More tips and tricks on decluttering here!

Seize the moment! Summer Organizing and Productivity

summer organizing and productivity


You have waited all year for this! It’s Summer and perhaps you have just a bit more time.  Your lighter load makes it possible to do what you have put on the back burner this year.  It’s time to seize the moment for summer organizing and productivity!


Now’s the time to organize!

Kids’s stuff

Kids’ rooms are overflowing with papers, games and more. It’s time to make a major overhaul of what has built up over the school year.  Start with a trash bag and fill it to the brim. Then go through the space thinking about what is not being used, what could be donated and what should be returned to someone else.  Your kids can be a part of this project. However if you want to work solo, put the items in a black garbage bag in a low traffic area and see what is requested before donating.


Reading pile

That pile of books. magazines and catalogs that have been flowing in are ready for review.  You may be waiting to take these out to the pool or on a trip with you. Review your pile, make decisions and let go of what is not going to be read this summer.  It’s also a bonus for when you return to have less paper.


Your Closet

It’s been an unusually cool spring here in Houston and throughout the country. It’s time to switch over your clothes and let go of winter items that were not worn. (This year we had one of our coldest winters.)  Turn your hangers around as you wear clothes to learn what is not being worn.  Let go of shoes that are uncomfortable or too disheveled.


Now is the time to be more productive!


Learn new tech

Have you been waiting to learn Quickbooks, view Google analytics, or use Trello? It’s time to add that to your action list for the summer. You will have more time to practice and learn. You will be ahead of the curve when fall comes and you have to use this tool efficiently.


Construct a new routine

Productivity often looks like a more automated approach. Routines are the way we automate our time, with either a sequence of small tasks or assigning a day of the week for a specific project. What ways can you create an improved or easy routine for tasks you dislike either at home or work?  By fall you will be solidly using this new routine.


Create solid self care

What does self care have to do with productivity? Everything! A great night’s rest leads to improved brain power.  Start an exercise plan this summer because an exercise routine can make you happier, smarter, clear thinking and more energetic. When you think of the benefits of self care, the return on investment is huge!


Seize the moment now to take advantage of the bits of available time, resources and energy.  Get started this week on your organizing and productivity projects!

How to take a Real Vacation


How to take a real vacation

Remember when summer vacation meant long breaks with little to do. It was a simpler time with no email and less paperwork.  At work and at home, we feel overwhelmed by all there is to do. It’s hard to prioritize a real vacation and even harder to make that happen. More than just getting organized to take your trip, here’s now to take a real vacation.


Why make sure you take your vacation

Knowing why to take your vacation is the push to do so because it has the most compelling reasons. There’s the benefit of creativity.  (Did you know Hamilton was written during a vacation?) Daily stress can take a physical toll and vacations give us the time to relax our body and our brains.  Taking a vacation is a complete reset.


How to time off from digital distractions

We all fear that avalanche of email when we return to work.  It’s what stalls our best attempts at relaxing.   However, you can set boundaries with this.  Checking email once a day, using your out of office response and coming back a day early to work on email are all ways to combat the need to check in.

  • Check email each evening to prevent hourly email check ins. You can add a line to your signature line or your out of office response to alert who to contact and response times.
  • To get the full benefit of time away, think about returning earlier. This can be earlier in the day or a day early.  Knowing you are setting aside time to get back into the groove can make a big difference during your vacation.
  • Take your time on social media seriously.  If you are checking in mindlessly, it’s time to put down your device and get back to enjoying your vacation and the people you are with.   We tend to gravitate to social media when there is a lull in action.  Spring back into vacation instead.

Add in your tech tools for fun

There’s a few tools to use that make vacationing more fun! There’s online tools you will love.

  • Device chargers to keep you up and running.
  • Great headphones to listen to your music or a movie.
  • Portable speaker to play your music
  • Apps for meditation, relaxation or promote sleeping
  • Apps for sightseeing

Be sure you don’t stray into dangerous email territory while having fun.

Get your planner out today to set a date for your vacation and take a real vacation this year.

How to Set Up a Successful Summer Routine

summer routine


Summer’s here and we are ready to let go of all our routines and structure. It’s tempting to throw caution to the wind and let go of all routines. There’s a lot of distractions, including weeks that alternate between vacation and work.  But wait just one minute! Maybe our routines help us live a life that includes all we value.  Here’s how to set up a successful Summer routine.


Keep just enough structure

Not enough sleep and eating junk food is not good for anyone. Keep the basic structure in place this summer. Sleep on your regular (yes, regular or improved!) schedule. It’s best for your body and brain to have a regular bedtime and wake time for you to do your best.  Eat all the amazing veggies that summer offers. A healthy meal, three times a day, keeps you energized. These are foundations for feeling good and working at high energy.


Keep just enough organization

Your desk and work don’t need to be completely unhinged during the summer.  Keep your desk and papers orderly throughout the summer to be productive.  Keep your calendar up to date throughout the year in order to be where you need to be and get stuff done.  Basic organization applies no matter the season.


Keep off your devices

You head off for vacation and head off of your email and devices. It’s good to have a catch up time before you return to work, however it’s time to really disconnect to maximize your time away.  Return home a day in advance to prep for the jolt back to reality.  That’s the time to reconnect, not during your time away.


Keep your kiddos busy enough

Your kiddos benefit from alternating busy and slow weeks. As you set up your summer kiddo schedule, give them time to be at home and be at camp. By alternating, your kiddos will appreciate the time to sleep in and time to stay busy.  A little boredom can be good for your kids.

More and more research is showing the negative effects of too much screen time. Set structure to your kids time on all devices to be sure their summer sets them up for success.


Keep trying something new

Summer’s a grea time to try new stuff! While it’s easy to slow down during the summer, new sports, new reading, new activities are ready to try. Keep trying someting new this summer. Swim team, reading, and other small ways kids start something new add to their confidence and knowledge.


Ready to try a new summer routine?  Start now with a family meeting and you are ready to get started this summer.

Taking Care of Business

Taking care of business


When it gets down to it, we all want to take care of business. That means getting stuff done!  Whether it’s at home or at work, the day ends and we wonder what we did accomplish.  Here’s a few essential elements to taking care of business.


Taking care of paperwork

Paperwork comes in at a pace that overwhelms us. It’s essential to have a specific spot annd a specific time to work on because it’s just going to build up.  Take care of business by creating an unprocessed paper spot, where paper is placed each day.  Create a command center to triage your paper and spend 5 minutes a day doing your triage.  Set aside adminstrative time to work on those paper work details that need attention.


Taking care of multiple projects

There’s always many different hats we wear and many simultaneous projects occuring.  It’s keeping all the plates spinning that keep our lives and businesses thriving.  There’s several steps to be sure everything moves forward.  Start by alloting time on your calendar, whether it’s a day of the week or a time each day.   Theme days, as MIke Vardy talks about, gives you the opporunity to work solely on a certain project or part.  Giving yourself a specific time to work on a project gives you freedom to focus on it creatively and as a whole without distractions.


Taking automation and delegation to the next level

We can’t do it all and neither should we. You may have already automated your bill pay.  Can you automate purchasing with a click or add a new member of your team?  When we add automation and delegation, we add hours to our day, add new ideas and also spend time on what is most important.


Take time for the future

Whether you call it foresight or planning ahead, taking time to see where your business and industry are headed creates longevity for your work and at home.  There are many transitions  for businesses.  Change is every present.  Taking time for strategic planning keeps your business and your life moving forward.


Taking care of business also means taking care of you.  Self care is an essential for you and your business.  With exercise, vacation, sleep and nutrition, your taking care of your bigggest asset for your business, yourself!


Be more organized and productive! Join my monthly newsletter!

Why I never miss a NAPO Conference

NAPO conference


Social media has made it a little too easy to think we are connected. We connect on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram daily.  However, there’s nothing like meeting in real life. Online, there are so many options and places to learn.  In an virtual world, it’s less expensive to learn too.  There’s two big reasons to attend our national association NAPO conference.


Return on Investment with Networking

If you are cautious about money, it’s always a wise investment to network in person. Face to face, we are our most genuine and authentic. There’s no hiding our connection to other with in person networking.  When you attend a conference, you are expanding your connections to potential clients. Networking is when you share your authentic self by sharing what you do, who you are and your brand.  Each time I attend a NAPO conference, I have made more connections than I as an introvert could imagine. There’s connections in sessions, at meals, in the hallway, in the elevator and on the dance floor.  You are immersed in networking.

  • Imagine meeting a colleague who gives you a five digit client later that year
  • Imagine mentoring a new colleague who just started her business
  • Imagine dancing with 400 of your colleagues.
  • Imagine leading a session of your peers to focus on their goals and create a plan to make their goals happen
  • Imagine attending a leadership session where you collaborate on the future of your industry

In each of these ways, I made a lasting connection that I can share or recieve business.


Learning from the best

Attending an in-person conference gives you opportunities that are not available online.  Presentations specifically developed by my peers gives me an edge. They are the experts in our field and they craft their presentations to our specific industry.  As a visual learner, being in a classroom setting offers me the opportunity to immerse myself in the topic.  I see the presentation and process it by sharing ideas with my colleagues also attending. When I attend an in person conference, I love that I have no other distractions in my space and I can fully immerse myself in learning.  It’s a gift to have no distractions and to give full attention to learning.

As an 18 year veteran, I have much to learn! I love new perspectives, new technology, new concepts and new skills.  Classes include working on my business and working with clients. I also confirm and consolidate existing skills in these sessions.

  • How to set goals for business and self
  • How to help my clients set goals and achieve goals
  • New skills, tips and tech for clients
  • How to be proactive for my business and my clients’ businesses
  • How to be a leader

I am proud to be a prolific learner and share all that I learn with my clients.


Yes, attending an in person conference takes time away from your family and business. It’s an investment in yourself, your work and your learning to take the leap to attend an annual conference. Take the leap each year and attend our NAPO National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals Conference.

What Mom REALLY wants for Mother’s Day

Mother's Day


Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May. Families celebrate this special day in all different ways.  Before you purchase an extravagant and expensive gift, think about your Mom and what she loves!


According to the 5 Love Languages, your mom could be one who loves the sort of gifts related to acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, recieving gifts or physical touch, or a combination of these.

  • Acts of service is doing something for mom, such as vacuuming the living room.
  • Mom may love quality time together such as taking a walk or spending time together. Many Moms want all their chicks together on this day.
  • Words of affirmation are telling mom how amazing she is at a specific task or project.  Moms love to hear that you appreciate a special or every day talent.
  • Mom may like a small gift from you.  It can be homemade with love.
  • A hug may be just what mom wants if she loves physical touch.
  • Any one of these can be shared in a way that keeps clutter minimized.  Which is why a gift may not be what Mom wants.


One day is not enough to celebrate Mom!  Once you know her love language, use and apply this throughout the year.  Moms work hard all year long and being appreciated is what is a great gift too!





My Organizing Obsession: Totes

organizing obsession totes


I think we all have a bit of an organizing obsession with totes. I see many of them, perhaps a bit too many, in my clients homes. When used well, totes are an amazing organizing tool.


Tote requirements

All totes must have multiple pockets.  The pockets are slots for the different items I carry in each.  There is a zipper pocket for items too just so nothing falls out! I categorize items, group them together and assign a pocket for that category.  Like I say about purses, I can tell how organized you are by your tote.


Travel tote

A travel tote is a necessity! Mine is black, with gray interior pockets for technology and my planner.  I keep basics, such as gum, travel mouse and an extra set of cords to charge all my devices.  It fits under my airplane seat so I can reach it during travel to work.  (I have found that working on an airplane is highly productive!) Travel and Leisure has many attractive, functional totes.


Work tote

Traveling between home and office often requires a tote. Keep it simple and travel with as little as you can.  If you are bringing paper back and forth, and never working on it, eliminate that paper.  Remember the essentials like your work badge, keys, and makeup basics.  In Style has polished work horses!


Off work totes

It might be your bible study, CEU class, or other materials.  You need a tote for the different activities and classes to carry your materials.  With a single tote devoted to an assignment, you never lose track of materials. Rather than a shopping bag, a tote is a fun way to keep items together.


Kiddo totes

Your kids need totes too!  During school it’s a back pack. This should have 3 pockets as well, one for each of notebooks, books and school supplies. For each of their activities, there should be one tote per activity.


What, when and where of tote management

Totes are stored in the landing strip, by your home entry.  The same space is used for your kiddo totes too.  Your travel tote is stored with your luggage.


Keep your totes up to snuff with weekly maintenance.  Store receipts, dump trash and replenish items at the end of each week. Do the same with your kiddos and their totes too.


Be sure you are keeping just enough of the totes you love.  If you find you are overloaded, this is a great area to eliminate what you are not using.


More of my organizing obsessions here!

NAPO by the Numbers NAPO2018

napo by the numbers


As the NAPO President, I have the honor of sharing the “State of NAPO” address during our Member Meeting.  This year #TeamNAPO has reached and exceeded many milestones. Together we have accomplished so much!



Media coverage by eight (8) of the most respected National media leaders

There is especially powerful media interest in NAPO this year.  Requests have flooded the HQ office from CBS Sunday Morning, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and other highly respected media leaders.  CBS Sunday morning will feature NAPO and NAPO members in the near future (exact air date to be announced).

Here’s just a sample of where NAPO is mentioned this year:

  • Wall Street Journal
  • CBS Sunday Morning (with support from our Member Survey and Stats Database)
  • Huffington Post
  • New York Times
  • Prevention Magazine
  • House Beautiful
  • Boston Globe
  • NBC News


5 Golden Circle Masterminds and 30 monthly Toot Your Horn posts

In the Golden Circle POINT community, we’ve learned so much from each other and celebrated each success!



30 Acceleration Learning Series Classes with more than 400 members taking these classes.

Our free classes by members for members starts this year as a download and podcast.  Thank you to our NAPO Membership Committee for keeping our classes engaging and informative!



24 Stand Out Podcasts with 5251 downloads so far for our 6 current podcasts

By the end of this year, our amazing Stand Out podcast will have 24 podcasts available to help you build and grow your business. Thank you to Sarah Karakaian and our NAPO Marketing Committee for getting our podcast  up and running.



6 membership categories in our streamlined Bylaws

This year we streamlined our NAPO Bylaws to reflect the dynamic changes going on in our industry.  Our membership includes these statistics.

  • 646 New members in past 12 months
  • 54% of membership belongs to Chapters
  • 47% of membership are Golden Circle
  • 68% of our membership are Professional Members
  • 11% of our membership are CPOs




1 fabulous new NAPO logo

Thank you to our Logo Task Force in creating a dynamic new image that represents NAPO.




26 Business Partners, including our visionary business partner members Smead and Brother

Thank you to our business partners Smead and Brother for your attendance and sponsorship at NAPO2018.  



3 specialist certificates available for our members now

Our members are prolific learners!  Here’s how many certificates we have! There are 240 members with the Residential Organizing certificate, 159 members with Workplace Productivity certificate, 12 members in just one month with the Life Transitions certificate.  And 129 members have 2 certificates and 7 have 3 certificates.



38 on demand classes and 98 Conference Recordings available on  NAPO U with 11,420 classes taken and 354 bundles sold to members

Our educational offerings are growing and growing each year, meeting the needs of our every expanding specialties and expanding our business growth.



11 Chapter Visits

Last year NAPO Board initiated a 3 year rotation for board visits. Each year board members visit 1/3 of our chapters sharing our presentation, Leveraging Your NAPO Membership. Sharing all the updates from NAPO, meeting our chapter leaders and getting to know our members is a joy for each of us.



8 Scholarship Recipients

Thank you to our scholarship committee for supporting the Barry Iszak/Glorya Schklair Scholarship.



5 Independent Research Projects

Advancing industry research is one of the four pillars of NAPO.  This year one of the five projects is the Dark Horse Project, a Harvard Graduate School of Education study, chronicling the journey people take to gain expertise in emerging professions.




365 days of  NAPOCares

NAPOCares is now an on-going, year-long initiative with no end in sight! The goal is to let the world know that NAPO Cares and to show how NAPO members give back to communities each and every day by sharing time, talents or treasures.



Over 41,000 POINT posts and 14000 new discussion threads with 1000 member to member referrals

If your not on POINT, it’s the place to be!  There have been over 1000 member to member referrals on POINT in Member Connect and Chapter Member Connect.



15 Monthly POINT posts for Product Push and Service Splash

We’re started a new way for our members and business partners to share their products and services. Check out these posts on the first Wednesday of the month.



2  consecutive years of balanced budgets

One of our most important values is to be fiscally responsible and sound.  In FY2015-2016 and FY2016-2017, we ended our fiscal year in the black. This year FY2017-2018 is looking good!




Let’s get social

NAPO uses 3 primary social media connections. There’s powerin connecting all year long! Please share, tweet, and like each and every day. Check out NAPO’s Get Organized and Be Productive Blog.  NAPO is providing content that engage everyone for public awareness and what professional organizer and productivity consultants do. This benefits you and your clients, who also get this quality content to share.  Remember to follow and share from your business accounts. For me its a way to be connected all year long and carries forward the contacts I make at our NAPO retreat and conference.



350 + Volunteers Collaborating

This is the most significant number to me! Volunteer leaders are a driving force in our industry. Our passion, commitment and expertise drive our association and fuel our leadership.  Thank you to all our member who are a part of TeamNAPO.


Learn more at www.napo.net

Empowering Creative Solutions for ADHD Challenges

empowering creative solutions for ADHD


My clients with ADHD are brilliant and creative.  They have often found innovative solutions to some of their ADHD challenges such as being on time, managing paperwork, or eliminating tedious, boring tasks.


Getting to work on time

Instead of leaving late each day and driving herself, my client wanted to be eco-friendly and get to work on time.  Since she lives close to a Metro stop, she decided to ride the bus to work daily to get to work. Not only is she always on time, she has contributed to the greater good.


Getting dinner done

According to my client, variety is overrated for dinner! She choose to have a 2 week set of dinners that she could prepare from pantry staples each evening.  A simple meal plan made for happy family dinners.


Getting homework done

After school homework time can be a challenge for families.  My creative client partners with 2 other families where they rotate homework time for their daughters.  The girls rotate between homes to complete homework each afternoon. The parent in that home is available to answer questions, check online for assignments and check the girls’ planners.


Getting ready each morning

Make your morning easy by creating a “uniform” dress for work.  The uniform for my client is a dress.  Rather than matching tops and pants, she wears a dress every day to make it easy to get ready for work.  Peter Shankman, podcaster of Faster than Normal, wears black shirts and jeans each day. Simplify your dress to make it easy to get ready each day.


Keeping one simple task list

Evernote or a simple notebook are  your solution to having your list in one place.  Decide if you are going digital or paper, then keep all your tasks on one list. Having one list for my clients means that you can find all your information easily.

Working with a partner

Organizing and productivity can be isolating.  My client knew that she worked better if someone is in the same space working on a project too.  She invited her assistant in to work alongside her each day for an hour at a time to get her project completed.  She was so surprised to learn this strategy, known as body doubling, could make her work more productively.  It works!


What are some of the creative ways you have made a difference and made it easy to get stuff done?



More on ADHD here!