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NAPO North Coast Ohio Blog  

Monthly Organizing & Productivity Tips from Industry Experts

  • 29 Apr 2016 11:46 AM | Anonymous

    CHANGE ONE THING to elevate your LIFE & IMAGE 

    by Traci McBride of TeeMcBee Image Consulting

    Here are some ways to can elevate and manage your wardrobe, your image, your confidence and even your closet where everything is stored.When I speak to an audience I’m often asked is “Where do I begin?” I alwayssuggest to begin right where you are and to Change one thing. Once you feel and see the benefits of changing one thing it will motivate you to change one more thing until, over time you go from A to E or M to Z. We all have a room for improvement.

    The quickest way to make an impact is to stop wearing all black all the time. Its uninspired 24/7, instead be deliberate when you wear black. Change 1 thing and pop with a color in either a colorful statement necklace or a flattering silk scarf.


    Been wearing the same scent for years? Change One Thing and gather up some samples from magazine and department stores to take your time trying different ones out over a few weeks get the opinions of your significant other and go for a fresh new scent.

    Get more out of your wardrobe by Changing One Thing to create a new look with the same pieces. My hope is when you begin with one thing like the blazer in the example you will then change the shoes to nude to lengthen your leg then Change One More Thing to kicking it up with color in your purse.

    Traci McBride Chief Stylist of TeeMcBee Image Consulting is an advocate of harnessing the power of one of the strongest communication tools each and everyone us have – our wardrobes.

    This one tool speaks of who you are what others can expect of you as you walk in the door.

    Visual Branding | Speaker | Wardrobe Stylist | Image Consultant | Workshops |Columnist

    www.TeeMcBee.com & www.STYLEDbyTee.com 

    Traci@TeeMcBee.com 440-670-0440

  • 03 Apr 2016 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    How to Lose 41 Pounds ~ by JoEllen Salkin of Organizing 4U, LLC

    If you are overwhelmed with the amount of paper that is coming into your home or business, you are not alone! 

    Of course, you can quickly sort through your mail each day to help keep on top of the piles. But that takes time. And since 44% of all junk mail goes to the landfill unopened each year, I want to offer you another solution. Take a few minutes and register at the sites below to be removed from a lot (sorry, it will not be 100%) of the organizations that are flooding your mailbox. By doing so, you actually lose the 41 pounds (the national per-capita average) of junk that enters your mailbox each year.

    Here are some free sites that really work:

    Go to DirectMail.com, and select the categories of mail you do and do not want to receive.  This probably will not stop all of the local ads that you receive, but it will make a big difference!

    To stop credit card and insurance offers go to OptOutPrescreen.  You will have the choice of stopping the offers for five years or permanently.  You can even change your mind later and opt in again if your circumstances change.

    Catalog Choice has always been one of my favorite sites to eliminate unrequested or duplicate catalogs that enter our homes each year.  Now they can also stop telephone books.  Sign up, and you will be able to see the number of trees you have saved for your efforts!

    To stop receiving the ValPak envelopes, go to the address removal page of their site.

    The RedPlum flier actually contains many ads each week. To be removed from this mailing list follow this link to complete a form

    I see so many solicitations from charities in the homes of my customers. They have been generous, and by doing so, one organization has shared their name with similar organizations. If you wish to stop this, merely make a note on your donation form that you do not want the charity to share your information with others.


    Sometimes, just as annoying, is the amount of unwanted email we receive.  Almost all of these offer a way to unsubscribe.  It may take a few seconds to unsubscribe to each one, but will really help eliminate a lot of the clutter in your email box.  The DirectMail link above also has a link to unsubscribe from email lists.

    Robo Calls

    With the election this year, we are receiving even more telephone calls than ever that are computer generated. Yes, you can stop many of these too!!! Go to Nomorobo to register for this free service. Your phone will ring once, and then the call ends.

    I hope you enjoy all the free time you will have with less mail and telephone calls coming into your home.

    Thanks for doing your part to help the environment,

    JoEllen Salkin

    Organizing 4 U, LLC



  • 02 Mar 2016 7:15 AM | Anonymous

    How NAPO Northcoast Can Do For You What It Has For Me 

    Cindy Illig-Lum, Owner & Manager

    The TimeFinders LLC

    It was the middle of winter about six years ago. I had just finished writing a business plan charting a new direction for my life, creating an opportunity that fit my skill set, my interests and my passion. I have the privilege of being able to set the terms of my employment, the top one being that I love the work I would be doing each day. So, I was about to become a Professional Organizer.

    Fast forward to today, I have my own company, consistent work and a healthy income. I pick the work I want to do, charge what I am worth, and enjoy most of the tasks set before me. I owe some of my success to my friends and colleagues in the Northcoast Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). Here is why.

    1) Guidance from People who Started Exactly Like I Did

    There are many activities a person should never do alone – mountain climbing and starting your own business are two of them. It is vital that you talk with someone, preferably more than one someone, who knows the challenges, can provide guidance and cheer you on. At NAPO Northcoast, I found a roomful of these guides. I was careful not to ask for too much and not to expect them to give me hours of their time for free. But unlike many networking groups, the members of NAPO Northcoast welcomed me with open arms and were generous with their support and helpful information.

    2) Access to the Knowledge Necessary for Success

    The members of NAPO Northcoast have a wide range of experiences, specialties and personalities.  There is bound to be an Organizer sitting in the room with you that you can relate to, who is doing the type of organizing you want to do, and is willing to share her or his experience. Not sure how to get your business started? Ask to hear how members got their first clients and eventually you will find an idea that appeals to you. Need some new techniques for a chronically disorganized client? You will find an answer in this group. How do you build a referral network? We each have our favorite sources and ways to connect with them, just ask. Not only are the members themselves great sources of knowledge, but each chapter meeting will feature a speaker on a relevant topic whether it be related to running the business, working with a specific type of client or using particular techniques.

    3) Experience the Connection and Comradery to Sustain You Through Tough Times

    Professional organizers most often work alone. There’s no one in the office down the hall to talk shop with and your significant other or best friend isn’t going to have a clue what it’s like “out in the field.”  There is something empowering, energizing and downright affirming to be a room full of people who are dealing or have dealt with precisely your situation (or close to it). Nothing like a collective sigh, ooh or ah to make you feel not quite so alone after telling an on the job anecdote. Meanwhile, once a year, you can work on a team of local organizers to help out a charity during National GO (get organized) Month, or head out with some colleagues to the national NAPO conference where you can connect with hundreds of professional organizers from all over the country. Any way you look at it, by joining NAPO, you become a part of something much bigger, a group of like-minded individuals that can keep you going strong in your new career.

    Now what are you waiting for?   Success is waiting for you at the next meeting.

    - Cindy Illig-Lum, Owner & Manager

    - The TimeFinders LLC

    - www.TheTimeFinders.net

    - cindy@thetimefinders.net

  • 01 Feb 2016 10:38 AM | Anonymous

    Childhood in a Box

    From Baby to Graduation – how to keep and organize the paperwork that matters

    by Amy Melaragno of AMOptimize, LLC

    I recently worked with a client who has 3 children; the youngest is a high school senior and the other 2 are grown and living on their own.  She was overwhelmed with all the paperwork that had accumulated for each child, and what to do about it.  She wanted to ensure each child had their important documents, but wasn’t willing to hand them a messy box.   From this goal, we developed Project ‘Childhood in a Box’

    Our Goal:  Organize and containerize all important documents for each child with the plan of handing it down.  What a gift to give someone: all their important paperwork in one place!

    Supplies:  File Boxes, Hanging Files, File Folders, Sheet Protectors, Labels, and a Labeler

    How to:

    Step 1 SORT:   

    • Bulky keepsake items (trophies, large artwork, etc..) that can’t be filed can be set aside, placed in larger bins and labeled as keepsakes.
    • Very critical items, like Social Security Cards and Birth Certificates, should likely go into a fire safe box. 
    • Shred or recycle the items that aren’t truly important (i.e., mid-year report cards become unimportant once you have year end, etc.)

    Step 2 CATEGORIZE:   All remaining items were placed into categories. 

    • Preschool
    • School – K through 8
    • School – High School
    • College
    • Medical
    • Financial
    • Job History
    • Sports / Extracurricular / Hobbies

    Step 3 FILE:  

    Within each category, we created sub-categories as needed.   We got out our labeler, file folders and hanging files, and started filing! 

    Step 3.5 GO DIGITAL (not for everyone):  

    As millennials grow up and our society becomes increasingly more digital, the concept of keeping the paper version of items may/can shift to electronic versions.  For example, many health and scholastic records are moving from paper-based to online.   We can pair that with using a scanner to make an image an item and store the image instead of the original.  Many people are not yet ready for this step, but the technology does exist!

    Step 4 THE HANDOFF:   

    My client was able to give her 2 oldest children their ‘Childhood in a Box’ over the holidays when they were home visiting.   The reaction was as you would expect, 

    “What a gift!”

  • 02 Jan 2016 6:41 PM | Anonymous


    by Patty Clair of Keeping It Simple, LLC

    Use this year's cards as thank you postcards or as gift tags for next year's gifts.

    Before you head out the door to shop at the after Christmas sales, really take an inventory of what you need for the following year. Many times we end up with more plates/napkins, wrapping paper, etc. than we can possibly use the following year. It is a waste of money and storage, so resist the urge to buy just because they are on sale. One thing is for sure, there will always be after Christmas sales on these items next year!

    Purge old decorations as you pack up after the holiday and make a shopping list for things you know you’ll need to replace next year.  

    Update addresses if you received any returned cards.  

    Try to look at new gifts received as “replacements for” not “additions to” whenever practicable. Go with the “one in, one out” rule whenever possible.

    Have your children go through their games/toys and consider donating items that they no longer use or want. Many charities/thrift shops will be happy to receive these “gently used” items.

    Consider donating your “new, but unwanted” gifts to help control the clutter.

    Place the items that youdid not use this year in a box labeled "did not use in 2013” and put it away with the rest ofyour decorations.  When you decorate the following year, reassess the items that were not used in the prior year.  If they still don't make the cut, donate them to the local thrift store or nursing home.  The system also works especially well for the thrift store because youdonate the items at a time when they are most marketable, as opposed to right after the holidays when the holiday items are no longer in demand.  

    If space allows, try to store all of your holiday decorations together so you will not forget what you have and repurchase unnecessary items the following year.

    Capitalize on after Christmas sales and purchase appropriate sized clear plastic bins. They are so helpful as they stack well, are sturdy, and most important: allow you to see what is inside.

    Catalog Control: Review the catalogs you have received in the mail this past season. Do you really need to subscribe to them, do you still order from them, do you get duplicate copies because you are registered under to similar but different names. Call the 1-800 number on the back of the magazine and asked to be removed from their mailing list.

    We always think we will remember from one year to the next, but if you are anything like me, you don’t!  Keep a log of what you spent on food/gifts (to help with budgeting next year), who you bought gifts for and what you purchased, as well as favorite activities for the season. Lastly, perhaps listing some favorite recipes you want to remember to use

  • 01 Dec 2015 12:57 PM | Deleted user
    When you lose a loved one or are planning a move, dealing with the lifetime of memories in the home can be emotionally challenging. Finding an estate sale professional that both understands the emotional issues and can get the job done and do it well, may be an added challenge. Your first step should be to visit EstateSales.net and do a search for companies that service the area. Then use these questions and answers to help you choose a company that is likely to fit your needs.

    Are you bonded and insured? A professional company will be both bonded against theft and have business liability insurance. It is not a legal requirement for estate sale companies in Ohio to carry insurance, but a professional company will go this extra mile.  

    How long have you been in business and how many sales do you host per month? The longer the company has been in business and the more sales they host, will translate into a more successful sale for you.  

    How do you advertise your sales? A successful estate sale company will market a sale in a variety of ways. They will employ a combination of emails to their own list of followers, ads online on sites such as EstateSales.net and Craigslist, ads in local newspapers, and yard signs.

    What do you charge? Most estate sale companies will charge a percentage of the proceeds in the range of 25 to 50 percent depending on the total value of the items, labor necessary to stage and host, and marketing needs. Some will cover all of the expenses with their commission while others will charge additionally for advertising, security, and so on. Note that a skilled company may charge more but they will also sell more and get better prices. Don’t base your decision on commission rate alone.

    Can you provide references? Again, any professional estate sale company should be able to provide you with references. If you have time, contact the references to ask fact-based questions such as how long did it take for you to receive your proceeds payment.   

    How do you determine the prices on items?  Professional liquidators use a combination of their experience, research and expert consultation. They should mention all three in an interview.

    What happens with the remainders when the sale is over? A reputable company will offer several options including making an offer to clean out the remains, referring you to another company for a “buy out,” or referring you to a charity that accepts household donations. Most companies will charge an additional fee to clean out the home after a sale and should be able to at least estimate the cost for you. If they tell you the leftovers become their property, beware. They may overprice in order to retain your goods for their own profit.

    When and how will I be paid? A professional estate sale company should pay you within a week following the sale. This, and all the details, should be spelled out in a contract. 

    Do you use a written contract? If the company does not use a written contract, then do not hire them. A signed contract will protect both you and the company. Read it closely and be sure to ask questions about anything you don’t understand.

    Do you have an upcoming sale I can attend? If you can only do one thing, this is it. Attend a company's sale and look for good signage, high attendance, carefully organized displays, thorough pricing, sufficient staffing, security for high value items, an organized check out area, and the acceptance of cash and credit cards as payment. 

    Of course, if you have a few questions of your own, ask away. A professional company will welcome your interest in how they operate.

    1. 02 Nov 2015 8:33 PM | Deleted user

      When it comes to reducing the sense of overwhelm that generally accompanies the holiday season, the name of the game is “Do Things Early”. Today I’ll offer up a list of items that may be on your super-sized Holiday To Do List that you can focus on knocking out in the next week or two, in order to carve out more time for the festive aspects of the season come December.

      1. Deep Clean

      Now is the time to clean your carpets and refrigerator, dust the blinds and ceiling fans, and disassemble your family room furniture to vacuum under the cushions! If you tackle the deep cleaning now, you’ll be ready to entertain guests after just a surface cleaning of the common areas come December.

      2.  Declutter

      November is the perfect time to declutter your closets as well as the kids’ playroom, in order to make room for the influx of new items that will be arriving in late December.

      Decluttering also comes into play as you begin the holiday decorating process. Take time to review your holiday decor; remove any items that you haven’t used in the past few years from your collection. You can either donate the items, or consider hosting a “holiday decor swap” with your friends.

      During your declutter frenzy, don’t neglect the kitchen! Declutter the refrigerator, freezer and pantry by tossing unused leftovers and expired items.  You’ll need to make room for all of the yummy holiday party food!

      3.  Take inventory of your food

      As we all know, food plays a significant role in our holiday celebrations, so expect to devote a bit more time and energy during this season for organizing and maintaining the areas that serve as home to your food items.

      Once you’ve cleaned and decluttered the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, take inventory of what food items you now have on hand. Knowing what you already have comes in handy when you begin preparing your holiday grocery shopping list. I recommend using laminated printable inventory sheets on a regular basis to assist with weekly meal planning.

      4.  Prepare and freeze meals 

       During the holiday season, you may find yourself hosting an impromptu get-together with friends/family. It pays to cook and freeze a few one-pot meals now so that you’ll have an easy home-cooked meal on hand for these occasions.

      5.  Organize coupons

      Go through your coupon collection and weed out the expired ones. Create a system for tracking expiration dates for those “great deal” coupons that you definitely plan to take advantage of as you begin your holiday shopping in the weeks to come.

      6.  Take inventory of your gift wrap supplies

      Now’s the time to ensure that you have a sufficient supply of gift wrap, gift bags, ribbon, and scotch tape on hand. If you don’t have a gift wrap station, go ahead and create one.

      7.  Prepare holiday cards

      If you choose to send out a holiday card, begin completing all of the sub-tasks associated with getting the cards in the mail…purchasing stamps, updating your card recipient address list, taking the family photo, etc. Even if you prefer not to send the cards out for another month, you can purchase/create cards, stuff and address the envelopes and have them ready for send-off now!

      8.  Declutter your camera memory cards

      Remove the memory cards from your cameras and video recorders, download the contents onto your computer and delete the images/videos from the memory cards in order to make room for all of the images/video footage you plan to capture during the 2015 holiday season!

      What other holiday tasks do you tend to complete in early November in order to get them off of your holiday To Do list?

    2. 01 Oct 2015 10:03 AM | Deleted user

      Statistically speaking, experts have listed moving as the third most stressful event in life.  Here are the first four:

          1. Death

          2. Divorce

          3. Moving

          4. Terminal Illness

      Really!  Moving is more stressful than a terminal illness???

      Even though I’ve been managing or assisting moves for 7 years, I recently had an “aha” moment.  I was working with a very spry, 82 year old “young” woman who was moving from the Cleveland area to Norfolk, VA.  “Eva” had been widowed for several years and her son wanted her to move near his family.  Eva’s husband was a career military man and they had moved over  22 times in their 50 year marriage.  For Eva, this move was far more difficult than any other.  For all the previous moves, each new space was larger than the last.  This was the first time that her new home was much smaller.   The decisions on what to take and what to leave behind was excruciating and overwhelming.

      Downsizing is much more than just moving.  It’s sorting through a lifetime of memories.  The longer a person has lived in their home, the more time they’ve had to accumulate “things with emotional attachments.”

      Where to Start?  Sometimes simple is best.  Buy a few colors of post it notes or painter’s tape.  The different colors indicate: 

          * Move to the the new home

          * Sell

          * Donate

          * (etc)

      More than likely, you may tag much more that’s going to the new home than what will fit.  That’s OK—it’s a start.  Now get the dimensions of you new space.  Figure out what will fit or consider hiring someone to do a floor plan.

      This is the time to think about what items give you the best memories.  If you have to make a choice between the $500 wall art splurge or the photo of you when you were a professional dancer (yes, this really happened to a customer of mine who could no longer walk without assistance), then go for the one that makes you happy.  My guess it’s the dancing pic.

      Do you have a new chair, but you always sit in the old recliner with a big comforter because it’s so cozy?  Then choose the recliner.

      Do you have a large collection of tea cups (or bears or clowns or tin cars . . . you name it), then line them all up and take a picture/s.  Choose only one item of the collection to set out in your new home and put the picture beside it.

      Once you have chosen what to take with you, call in the family members to see what they want.  You may be surprised at how few things they ask for.

      Next Steps:  Tackle your clothes.  Closet space will be at a minimum.  Be realistic.  Better yet, go to the new home with a roll of string.  Cut the string to the length of your closet/s.  Then come back home and hold that string to what you already own.  Yep, you have a lot to get rid of!  If you have clothes that are in style and good condition, a consignment shop can sell them for you.  If you kept clothing from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, vintage clothing buyers may purchase them.

      An on-site estate sale or auction (live or online) will only be possible if there are enough items to be profitable for the company doing the sale.  Does your community have rules prohibiting a sale?  Is there enough time?  Are you OK with hundreds of people walking through your home?

      Consider having a consignment shop take sellable items.  Consider having an online auction company move your possessions to their warehouse to take pictures and then house the items until the auction has ended.  The best option is to find a company that has both a consignment store and does online auctions.

      What Not To Do:  Do NOT have a garage or yard sale.  The amount of money you bring in will not be enough to offset the amount of work.

      Moving:  Find a reputable moving company that will help you pack and move.  Ask friends for referrals.

      Selling Your Home:  Find a realtor with a good track record of selling homes.  Again, ask for referrals from people you know.  Do NOT feel pressured or obligated to go with a neighbor or friend’s friend who happens to be a realtor.

      Are you still feeling overwhelmed?  Do you have way too many things to even begin to sort and decide?  Consider hiring a professional to oversee every aspect of your downsize . . . or just a portion of the downsizing that you feel you need the most help.

    3. 01 Sep 2015 10:33 AM | Deleted user

      Even though many of our students have already started their new school year, it is still not too late to think about having an ORGANIZED school year.  For myself, one of the most valuable tasks I have found to accomplish early each school year is to purge my kid’s bedrooms.  Now, I just don’t mean “clean their rooms”….I mean REALLY purge and declutter!  Having an organized bedroom will help to ensure a more stress-free morning, homework will less likely be lost and it will be much easier to find clothes to wear.  Here are some basic steps to get you started….


      Go through your child’s clothes to see what fits and what doesn’t from last year.  You can consign, donate or pass along those clothes which no longer fit.  Try not to “overstuff” dresser drawers.  When drawers are stuffed, it is harder to find things and get the drawers closed.  If the drawers are too full, it’s usually a good indication that it is time to let go and purge.  

      Instead of stacking t-shirts or shorts in drawers, try placing them in drawers as shown in this picture (photo courtesy of Pinterest).  

      It's SO much easier to find that favorite t-shirt when they are stored this way instead of rooting through a stack of t-shirts and only seeing what is on top. 

      Outgrown sports equipment or uniforms?  Try listing them on a community garage sale page or through your local organization’s website.  You can also contact area coaches to see if they know of any families who may be in need.  Organizations such as Project Retread also collect used sports equipment to give to countries and communities where equipment is too expensive.


      Categorize the toys as to what stays, what is broken/needs discarded, and what can be donated or sold on consignment.  Reach out to area churches and preschools to see if they are in need.  Your child’s classroom might also be interested in gently used board games or small toys to be used during inside recess.


      Gather all papers, school work and memorabilia.  Make different piles as to category:  report cards, achievements, artwork, schoolwork.  Next, decide what is going to be kept from each pile.   A plastic file box can be used to file schoolwork away.  Use a hanging file folder for each school year to house report cards, achievements, and schoolwork your child wishes to keep.  You might also want to consider an art portfolio for those larger art pieces.  

      These portfolios are great because they keep everything in one place and slide easily under a bed or can be tucked behind a dresser.  Consider using apps such as Artkive to take pictures of your child’s artwork.  The pictures can then be downloaded and made into a book so your child will have a record of all of his/her artwork for the entire school year.

      By following these few basic steps, your child will be well on his/her way to a clutter-free bedroom and great school year!
    4. 01 Aug 2015 8:00 AM | Anonymous

      Now that the warm weather is here, it's the perfect time to organize some of your outdoor spaces...especially the garage!  Like basements and attics, garages too often become "catch-all" areas and can quickly get overwhelmed with clutter.  Especially for those with little kids, the bikes, riding toys, and sports equipment take up a lot of space.  Here are some tips to help you reclaim your garage:

      -If possible, pull everything out, and sort it by type (sports equipment, bikes/toys, tools, etc.).  At that point you can purge any excess items, as well as figuring out the best way to store each type of item.

      -Go vertical!  Walls are an often unused storage option, and can be especially helpful in garages.  You can hang ladders, bikes, chairs, tools, and other items on the wall, using items as simple as "U" hooks or pegboards.

      -Maximize the vertical space even further by building shelves in your garage.  This is a great option for the large items (i.e. riding toys), as well as outdoor decorations.  Be sure to measure the items you'll be storing before the shelves are built, to ensure they will fit.  The bottom shelf can even be tall enough to put items like kids' bikes, riding toys, and strollers.

      -A simple pegboard or wall rack can be used to store tools, brooms, shovels, etc. 

      -A freestanding cabinet is a great option for some of the smaller items in your garage: car wash supplies, gardening tools, windshield washer, oil, and other liquid items, etc.  The shorter shelves allow you to fit more items, and a unit can fit easily against a wall or in a corner.

      - There are many options for storing sports equipment, including golf clubs, balls, bats, racquets, etc.  Here are several found on Amazon, both of which are less than $50.


      -Although your kids' bikes most likely get used often and need to be easily accessible, a floor bike rack can be helpful to keep them stable and organized.  This one from Amazon retails for less than $50! 

      -Wall bike racks are a good option for bikes that are used less often, or during the cold months when bikes aren't being ridden.  


      -Ceiling storage unit.  The ceiling is another option for storage, and there are units ranging from around $50 (for a basic shelf) up to $150 (for a motorized unit that raises and lowers).  Home Depot and other similar stores sell units like these. 


      Organizing your garage doesn't have to be complicated or expensive!  With an afternoon of free time and less than a few hundred dollars, you can get the clutter under control and your cars into the garage.

    © 2019 North Coast Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. All rights reserved.

    NAPO North Coast Ohio is a legal entity separate and distinct from NAPO, Inc. (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals) and is not entitled to act on behalf of, or to bind NAPO, contractually or otherwise.

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