Service to NAPO Award 2013

napo 2013 award with president croped


This year I was honored at the National Conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers with the Service to NAPO Award.  This special award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to NAPO or the organizing industry not described under other award categories.

My service to NAPO began as soon as I joined our organization. I have been privileged to serve on the Education, Leadership Task Force, Social Media, Marketing and Conference Committees, in addition to being the Conference Committee Chair in 2008.  Locally, I have been the Vice President and President of NAPO Houston.  Being on these committees has given me the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and promote our industry.  I always choose to serve in a way that uses my strengths and in a way that builds a team.  After 12 years of service, I have more to give too!

I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues and make a difference in our industry.   It is an honor to be recognized with this award.

Reflections of a Chief Junker


I am thrilled to have my friend Tiffany Eckhardt share some reflections as owner of Flown the Coop.  What you think of her perspective on her stuff?

Everything in my home has a price tag.  Seriously, there is a tag on just about everything.  

 I once asked my Flown The Coop Facebook friends if keeping inventory tags on treasures at home was normal.  I was feeling a bit awkward when visitors came to my home until friends in the industry confirmed that I was not alone.

 As chief junker at Flown The Coop, I have the privilege of buying and selling unique pieces of furniture, reclaimed industrial pieces for home use and kitschy vintage items.   

I love acquiring and enjoying my treasures for a time, then setting them free to be enjoyed by another family.  For example, I recently decided to let go of a huge letter E that served as a unique focal point in our living room.  The letter came from a discarded Office Depot sign and sat behind our couch on a table as a conversation piece.  Honestly, as much as I loved it, I took just as much pleasure in knowing the gentleman who bought the E was thrilled with his new treasure.  

I try not to get attached to my treasures, except priceless family heirlooms or treasures that I bought traveling with my husband.  I’ve learned that I can eventually find replacements for pieces that I let go.  For that reason, I rarely take my Flown The Coop inventory tags off pieces I use in my home.  Eventually the piece will return to inventory and be replaced by another equally unique treasure.  

 I imagine keeping the tags on furniture or pieces of art would be embarrassing for most people.  I don’t encourage it.  What I am proposing is to keep an open mind about items that create clutter.  Letting go of items in your home that no longer serve a purpose can be freeing and can make room for a new decor.  I guarantee someone will consider your junk as treasure.  

 Enjoy your treasures, but when it’s time feel free to let them go!  

Tiffany Eckhardt and her family recently moved from Ohio to their new home in the Houston Heights.  She is chief junker at Flown The Coop, a business that reclaims and repurpose furniture, industrial pieces and kitschy vintage items.  You can find Flown The Coop at Chippendale Eastlake Antiques and at Urban Market Houston, Warrenton Antique Week and the Dallas Market.  Follow her flight pattern on her Facebook page.  Learn more about Tiffany at  and

Back to School: Tips for Family Responsibilities



Back to school! Its that time of year that makes moms happy and sad; happy to start new routines and sad about the energy and organization it can take to get your family going. Throughout the month of August we are featuring organized moms who will help get you started back to school with the toughest tasks.

Moms are challenged to get everyone to do their part for family responsibilities and chores. Getting everyone to pitch in makes a difference. 

Chores at our house became more of a chore to discuss and get our son to do than an asset to our family time.  The arguing and nagging were non-stop.  To get over our hump, as I knew things would only get worse without instilling a sense of pride and ownership into our house for our son (3 at the time, currently 5 1/2), I began with a family meeting regarding expectations.   My husband had his jobs, I had my jobs, and our son was assigned his job(s).

We began with small tasks for our little man.  His first: putting away his clothes.  Not all of his clothes, but ones that didn’t really matter if they got wrinkled or not, like underwear or socks.  Each time he did it without complaining, he got to pick a sticker from the pack (we went to the store and stocked up on stickers that he picked out prior to doing this).  When he got 5 stickers, he got a reward.  Each category of our sticker chart had a pre-determined reward for filling in all sections.  After a week or two, we increased his load and ours.  (Of course, we described our jobs in more detail instead of adding more things for us to do.  For example, instead of “cleaning house”, it became “cleaning floors and vacuuming” for me and “outside chores” because “mowing and weed eating” for my husband.)  He started putting away his clothes AND putting out the napkins on the table for each meal.  Again, we followed thru with the sticker chart.  We kept it on the fridge so that it was a reminder to him AND us to use.   Consistency regarding the chart is what made this successful.  When I forgot to fill it in, he reminded me.

As he became more experienced and older, we increased his load even more.  Additionally, instead of getting stickers, he now gets an allowance ($3 a week). He saves him money for things he wants to buy.  His chores now consist of: putting all of his clothes away, matching the clean socks, picking up his room each night before getting ready for bed, setting the table for all meals, clearing the table after all meals, unloading the tupperware and silverware from the dishwasher, and washing or drying dishes (whichever would be easiest for him to do based on the dishes…we avoid him handling knives and glass as much as possible).  If he helps clean the bathroom (I spray the chemicals, he wipes), he gets 50 cents. If he helps clean the floors (yes, that includes sweeping and mopping), he gets 50 cents. If there is an extra family task (planting a tree, weeding the flowers, painting the porch, going through clothes, etc.) he has the opportunity to earn additional money (usually $1-$5) depending on the expectation of the outcome for the job’s difficulty level. On a side note, we switched to money instead of toy rewards because it was getting expensive.  As an added bonus, he is now learning the value of money.  Sometimes he requests 4 quarters instead of a one dollar bill, for example.

Here is the important part: ALL (not just a few and not just randomly) responsibilities need to be completed the first time asked AND without an argument to receive his allowance.  That means that if he does a great job all week but blows it over the weekend, he gets no allowance…not even part of it.  Seems harsh, right?  I thought so at first, but it is way worth it.  That was a challenge for him at the beginning, but after a few times of not getting his allowance, he knew we meant business.  The payoff of outlasting his behavior to show him we mean business, way out weighs giving into his fits for his allowance.  I didn’t threat to not pay him and then give him a partial amount.  What would I be teaching him?  This: it’s ok to throw fits to get what you want, you can do things in a half hearted way and get rewarded, the child makes the rules not the parent.  That’s not how it works.  I am the parent.  He is the child.  I am teaching a lifelong skill of self respect, self discipline, following directions, respecting adults, doing things because the need to get done, etc.  This is a black and white issue for us.  Either he will learn to take responsibility and become a responsible citizen or not.

It takes all of us to make our house be successful.  We set the bar at the level we want and WE are in control of him meeting that expectation.  WE are the parents.  He meets our expectation, he doesn’t set the expectation.  I learned that he could really do more than what I was originally expecting.  So, when he got rewarded for his efforts, he had the desire to show me what else he could do.  I no longer need to “water down” my expectations-I set the bar and he reaches it…because he can.  As he begins Kindergarten this year, we will increase his chores yet again.  Lucky kid…

Tiffani Collins is a 7th grade math teacher with one son.  She enjoys spending time with her family and her dog Spartan, and especially family game night. 

Kingwood Library Presentation: Organizing Your Garage

Join me at Kingwood Public Library for Organizing Your Garage on April 19 at 3:30 pm.  Starting with your organizing team, learn ways to declutter and organizing your car, gardening, athletic and more stuff in your garage. You will also learn what NOT to keep in there!

100 days to Christmas

Each year we vow to get started early for our holiday preparations.  We also want to make the holidays more meaningful and connected, less about stuff and more about people.  Jennifer Tankersley created the 100 Days to Christmas E-Book for you!

Jennifer, owner of ListPlanIt, was inspired in 2008 to start off the holiday season on September 16, posting daily ways to get ready for your holidays.  Overwhelmingly, the response was that of gratitude for daily tasks, setting goals, and offering encouragement during a busy time of year.  For the first time, you have the opportunity to see it all up front without having to wait for the next task to be published each day. The 100 Days to Christmas 2011 eBook has everything you need to get started on your holiday planning and to further motivate you through a series of major holidays.

Some of my favorite daily posts:

  • On day 99, Jennifer suggests printing out your calendar and mark all the upcoming holidays between September and December. There are many!
  • On day 93, fall is in the air! It is time to decorate for fall and also sort out the different seasonal decor.   Getting ahead on your holiday decorations by first categorizing, then by identifying what you use and what can be donated, really saves you time and money during this season.
  • On day 51, you are invited to share your blessings with a local food back.
  • On day 45, there is a moment for gratitude included in your preparation.

Each part of the holiday preparation, from budgeting, to sending holidays cards, to decorating, is included in baby steps, with a time line, to help you prepare your home.  Most importantly with this preparation you are ready to enjoy the holiday yourself! That is the best gift of all! 

You can purchase 100 Days to Christmas at  Enjoy!

Emergency Preparedness: Organizing Your Important Documents


emergency preparedness organizing your important documents


For the past few weeks, our news has been filled with weather related emergencies, family’s homes being devastated, and natural disasters.  On any given day, we could be faced with the unexpected in a significant way.  In case of emergency, we want to have access to the very important papers we need to assist those we love. To be prepared, here is a list of documents and storage options for security and access.

Personal records such as birth certificates, adoption papers, citizenship records, marriage certificates, divorce documents, military service records, passports and social security cards should be stored in a safe or safe deposit box. If you will need to refer to these items, make a copy and store them in your filing cabinet, listing the specific name of the item on a file folder in your “Personal” file drawer.

Tax returns are required by law to be retained permanently. The supporting tax information must be retained for 7 years. (Although the IRS can only audit returns for the previous three years, many exceptions can extend the deadline.) Keep tax returns separately from your supporting documents.  These can be kept in an attic or the bottom drawer of your file cabinet.

For life insurance policies, you must retain the initial policy as well as any addendums. Keep these originals together, each in a file labeled with the name of the insurance company on the file folder, in a safe in your home. Keep a list of the policy numbers and insurance companies in a file in your “Financial” file drawer, labeling the file “Insurance – Life”.  Any payments for these policies can also be kept in the “Financial” drawer.

Legal documents, such as power of attorney and wills, should be kept in a safe in your home and at your attorneys. Give a copy of the document to the executor and family members. Do not keep these in a safe deposit box, as this may be sealed when the box owner dies.

Property information for your home and auto, such as the deed to your home, mortgage, or car title, should be kept in a safe or safe deposit box. For home repair and maintenance bills, keep these in a filing cabinet labeled “Home Repair” in the “Home/Auto” file drawer. For auto repair and maintenance, label these “Auto-(name of car)”, and also keep these in the “Home/Auto” file drawer.

A household inventory is important in the event of a home catastrophe. Your insurance provider will need proof of loss in the event of a fire, flood, or robbery. Videotape or photograph your possessions. Place the photos in a notebook with receipts and appraisals for expensive items. In the video or notebook, categorize the items in your home by room. Keep the video or notebook in a safe or safe deposit box.

If your wallet is lost or stolen, it is important to keep a copy of the contents. Using a copy machine, photocopy the front and back of your credit cards, driver’s license, insurance cards and all else in your wallet. Store the copies in a file folder labeled “Wallet- (your name)” in your “Personal” file drawer.

September is National Preparedness Month.  By organizing your documents in case of a family emergency, you will feel peace of mind and security. Your family will appreciate your efforts on their behalf!

TEAMwork for your Family

family teamwork


The start of a new school year means everyone working together for their best year yet!  Each family member helping makes all the difference. Remember, Together We Achieve More!  Family teamwork brings everyone together, helping and sharing responsibilities.

  • Start homework time at the same time for all your kids.  This way all the distractions of television, texting and more are all stopped simultaneously.
  • Host your family meeting and create a community chart for your family.  Across the top are the days of the week, down the side are the family member’s names.  In the grid are the daily responsibilities of each person.  Post the chart in the kitchen where everyone can see it.
  • Create partnerships to complete family responsibilities. Partner with unusual pairs, such as dad/daughter, mom/son and mix it up! That way everyone shares the job and the joy of kitchen cleaning, toilets and laundry.
  • Have a “Power Hour” once a week for cleaning the whole house. Discuss what needs to be cleaned and what the finished job looks like. Then set the timer and go!
  • Develop your core in your family team. Set aside times for family members to have one on one times for fun, such as date night for mom and dad or a special trip for a parent and child to share.
  • Post a list of family fun for everyone including movies to rent, places to go eat, or family activities. These incentives help everyone do their best on their responsibilities.

What team activities work at your home?

Cell Phones for Soldiers Drive during June and July 2011

Cell Phones for Soldiers Drive Hosted by PostNet Kingwood and

Your old cell phone can help a soldier stay in touch with family. Cell Phones for Soldiers wants to turn your old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas. To do so, Cell Phones for Soldiers wants to collect 50,000 cell phones each month through a network of more than 3,000 collection sites across the country.  PostNet Kingwood and are partnering to host a drop off site in Kingwood from June 1 – July 31.  PostNet Kingwood is located at 4321 Kingwood Drive in the HEB Shopping Center in Kingwood.  Drop off your used cell phones and make a difference!

 To learn more about Cell Phones for Soldiers visit

To learn more about PostNet Kingwood, including store hours, visit  or call (713) 589-2151

Sync or Swim: 201 Organizing Tips You Need to Survive the Currents of Change


Sync or Swim: 201 Organizing Tips You Need to Survive the Currents of Change are the next-generation organizing tips for getting things done and controlling clutter without falling into a sea of complexity. Seventy organizing and productivity specialists share 201 of their best tips and 100 most valuable resources in home management, information organization, and organizing every basic area of life. It is a 93-page ebook written by award-winning professional organizer, Judith Kolberg, and certified professional organizer, Allison Carter.  I am one of the contributors!


“New Organizing Tasks”: 20 years ago we didn’t have to deal with syncing calendars, avoiding spam, scanning, defragging, or managing the overload of information that comes our way every day. Our tips help you to survive the day to day chores of this generation.

“Tech Lite” Resources: This ebook contains 140 unique resources for syncing, reminding, tracking, reducing, organizing, scheduling, balancing, and so much more! But it’s not scary high tech. It’s easy to access organizingtools you can use today.

“New School” Tips: New ways to do old tasks: Filing, cleaning up, setting reminders, viewing photos, even changing the oil.

Purchase your copy at

Effective, Efficient, Productive Home Office


Organizing your home office, whether it is for personal or business reasons, makes all the difference!  Getting down to business at your desk is a chore if it is piled with papers! Establishing a comfortable area for paper work and other office activities is important for productivity. Use these tips to create a space dedicated to effectiveness, efficiency and organization.

Create a Work Zone
As you begin, determine what tasks you are doing in your office and the tools needed for these tasks. By making these decisions at the outset, you are preparing your space for accomplishment. Create areas specifically designated for most frequent activities. As for room arrangement, place your desk in a position that allows maximum use of natural light. Position the desk in a direction that allows for direct viewing of all who enter without you having to turn.  Add an L shape or credenza behind for easy access storage for your command center or project files. 

Desk drawers should have only what you use at the desk in them. Store your additional office supplies in another area. Keep specific categories of items individually stored in different drawers. One drawer should contain checks and bill paying items, one drawer stationary and note pads, one drawer with a pencil tray holding pencils, pens, tape, stapler and scissors. Again, keep just enough to use and not over stuff the drawers. Place books on book shelves, magazines or reading material in a basket to grab and go. Be sure that your telephone, computer and other essentials are placed easily in reach.

A Personalized Paper Plan
A “paper plan” is most important in this work zone. Create an area for “Action” files. This is a temporary home where papers live until either filed away or thrown away. Papers used frequently or that are a “hot topic” need a basket, vertical file, or other space on your desk. Label them according to what actions or terms fit best with your needs. These files can be call, file, mail, or pay. Or these can be named by client name, project name, or other key word that comes to mind quickly. Clearly label your files so you will always know what is in them, and just as importantly, the labels will remind you what not to put in them.

Arrange for the placement of frequently used files to be placed in the desk’s file drawer. Less frequently accessed files can be placed in a separate filing cabinet. As for filing cabinets, use a low-lying, two-drawer cabinet that can be placed next to or near your desk for the added use of its top for other items that you often need. Filing system should be simple easy and manageable. Create categories in your files for the different major work/home areas. For work it may be clients, administrative, financial. For home it may be home/auto, personal, and financial. Use general key words that come to mind quickly, and sub categorize as needed. An example would be Car – insurance, Car – maintenance, or Insurance – Car, Insurance – Home. Think about how YOU think about the paper to find it. Color-coding your files makes it faster to find information. Use one color hanging file to easily slip information into a file. Label the file with a tab using a label maker!