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Monthly Organizing & Productivity Tips from Industry Experts

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  • 01 Jul 2015 9:42 AM | Anonymous

    Creating a routine and finding specific times in your day to perform organizing tasks will decrease the chaos and increase the peacefulness in your life.


    7:00pm - Plan your meals for the following day. (or week)  

    7:30pm - Check the forecast and choose your outfit for tomorrow.

    8:00pm - Do a clean sweep of the house putting away any items strewn about such as clothes, dishes or misc. items used throughout the day.

    9:00pm - Get a good nights sleep!

    7:00am - Because you planned the night before, your morning goes off without a hitch!  You find your keys without a problem because you always keep them in the same spot.

    8:00am - Your morning is productive because planning ahead allowed you to relax and get a restful sleep last night.

    12:00pm - Your lunch break was productive because your REMINDERS APP helped you tackle several personal tasks you would have otherwise forgotten about.

    4:00pm - Grab the mail on your way home and immediately go through it.  Throw out any junk mail and sort everything else by TO PAY, TO READ, or TO FILE. 

    5:00pm - Enjoy dinner with your favorite people!

    5:30pm - Clear the counters, clean and put away all the dinner dishes so they don’t pile up and become a bigger mess for you to deal with later. 

    5:45pm - Check your email, voice mail and return phone calls.

    6:30pm - Because you tackled things as they happened and stayed organized today you now have plenty of time to enjoy your evening doing something you enjoy!

  • 01 Jun 2015 10:27 AM | Anonymous

    If you want to improve organization of personal finances, it's important to be alert and engaged in your money habits throughout the year. In addition to monitoring account balances and cash flow, consider performing a more formal review of finances half way through the year. 

    A mid-year review is an opportunity to make adjustments to earning, spending, and saving behavior to ensure alignment with annual goals. The simple act of dedicating time to financial matters can also help strengthen resolve and overall long-term organization and efficiency. Here are six tasks to tick off on your mid-year checklist:

    1. Review Spending & Income

    Look back over spending in the first half of the year to look for patterns that affect the bottom line. Has income changed? Is spending on budget? Did any large, unexpected expense come along?

    2. Check Insurance Coverage & Costs

    Review policies to make sure that each is at an appropriate level of insurance coverage in light of recent life events such as, getting married, buying a house, having a child or changing jobs. It's also important to keep beneficiaries up to date as a family changes. If premiums are creeping up, it may be time to get quotes and switch to more affordable carriers.

    3. Track Tax Obligations

    Have a conversation with your tax preparer and be mindful of any events that may affect your annual tax bill. If so, it's wise to set money aside to meet the tax obligation now.

    4. Review all Account Ownership/Titling by Reviewing the Name(s) Listed on Account Statements and/or the Tax Filing Documents Issued for the Prior Tax Year

    If married, is the spouse listed as a join owner or as a beneficiary on non retirement accounts? Also look for the same investment or stock held in different names.

    5. Adjust Savings

    No matter how more money has come: through earnings, inheritance or other happenstance, bump up the amount contributed to savings.

    6. Monitor Retirement Funds

    Review retirement plans, check to see that assets are distributed in accordance with risk tolerance. Review and update the beneficiaries on each retirement plan account and consider consolidation if there are plans with prior employers. If you are over age 70, make sure you are withdrawing required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement plan or IRA in accordance with IRS guidelines to avoid penalties.

    Stepping back mid-year to check in on these six areas will help you be more disciplined, focused, and to have a more organized financial life. Your financial adviser can walk you through a mid-year review and provide valuable guidance to help you to stay true to your monetary intentions all year long.

    Judith C Singer, CRPC®, is a Financial Advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Beachwood, Ohio. She specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 30 years. To contact her:

    Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

    3401 Enterprise Parkway

    Suite 105

    Beachwood, OH  4412-7341

    O: 216.464.5545 | F: 216.464.7624


    Ameriprise Financial and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax adviser or attorney regarding their specific situation. 

    Brokerage, investment, and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC.

    © 2015 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.                      

  • 01 May 2015 10:51 AM | Anonymous

    1.  Lack of Color in your Closet.  You have 50 shades of grey or black from Tee’s to suits.

    2.  You own more yoga pants (women) athletic pants (men) than you own tailored pants.

    3.  Your 1st thought is to ‘be comfortable’ when getting dressed

    4. Never get compliments on your appearance and others ask if you are tired

    5. You experience no joy or excitement when dressing each day

    6.  You’ve had the same hair style and or make-up for 5+ years

    7.  You decided not to buy new clothes until you reach your ‘goal’ weight 2+ years ago.

    8.  Your closet is full, yet you have nothing to wear or you wear the same 20% over and over.

    7 Ways to Move Out of It!

    Color is CONFIDENCE & ENERGY learn to harness it & discover your personal POWER COLORS.  You will be shocked at the way you feel!

    • Evaluate your wardrobe and DETOX your Closet from anything that isn’t honoring    your NOW body or bringing you Joy.
    • Put a full length mirror where you dress each morning – and use it before, during and after you dress.
    • Create positive affirmations and hang them up where you will see each and every day.
    • Learn your body shape – this alone will save you much time, energy and money.
    • Create a Style Vision Board.  Use magazines, catalogs and your phone to gather visuals of what you would like to move towards in your style.
    • Change one thing.  Many times improving 1 positive change motivates you to continue.  
    • Create a team of advisors.  By investing in your team from an manicurist & hair stylist to personal wardrobe stylist & image & confidence coach you can do what you do best and they will always make sure you look & feel your very best.
  • 01 Apr 2015 11:19 AM | Anonymous

    1. Establish Homes for My Things

    Start with the things you constantly search for (keys, purse, dog leash, bills) and add systems like hooks, zones, and labels.

    2. Commit to a Daily Clutter Clean Sweep

    Start by making your bed each morning. Pick up all things that don't belong where they were left and group all things that live up- take up at once and all that lives down, take down at once. Continue the process.

    3. Use Clear Bins for Storage

    You can see what you have stowed away!

    4. Go Vertical!

    To maximize small spaces use vertical shelving! When dealing stacks of papers, get things on the walls by utilizing bulletin boards and hanging wall pockets. Remember to use labels to know what lives in the pockets.

    5. Delegate and Ask for Help

    We can't be Superwoman/Superman, we will burn out. Get kids involved with tasks-it sets them up for life. If you are stuck, find a Professional Organizer to help get you on a path.

    6. Set a Timer for 20 Minutes and "Just Get Started"!

    The Nike "Just Do It" still halts people. Once you get started, you tend to keep going.

    7. Break Larger Tasks into Smaller Steps

    David Allen of "Getting Things Done" asks us "What is the next action?" Define a bigger project into smaller steps, schedule tasks on your calendar, and you will witness progress.

    8. Play Music During Tasks to Lighten Your Mood

    Experts say that apart from physical tension, music reduces psychological tension in our mind. Listening to music releases endorphins and gives us motivation to carry on longer.

    9. Create a Digital or Paper File for Everything Important

    Files not piles! Create your own unique naming conventions so that you can find what you need when you need it. Mirror digital files to paper files.

    10. Don't Put it Down, Put it Away

    We will save time and stress if we make the four seconds to put it back it it's home, rather than leave it out. We know things pile up. Do it now!

    Commit to the fact that being organized is a lifelong process, just like "being healthy". Try choosing one of these 10 steps and just get started!

  • 01 Mar 2015 10:34 AM | Anonymous

    You have a mountain of books. What do you do with them?


    Any books that have mold or mildew should be discarded. Old textbooks, old dictionaries, encyclopedias and most magazines should be recycled if possible. It is o.k to discard them if the recycler will not accept them. Any books with missing pages should also be discarded.


    Many charities and thrift stores accept book donations. This includes Goodwill, Volunteers of America, The Salvation Army, Library Thrift Stores (also known as Friends of the Library), and churches. These organizations will sell the books, usually for 25-cents to $2 each to raise money for their organization. If you want to receive a tax deduction for your donation, be sure you comply with the daunting IRS rules for documenting charitable contributions. You may not deduct more than the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the books. Determining this value can be confusing and it is difficult to provide rock-solid evidence of their value.

    To avoid falling afoul of IRS regulations, I suggest a more creative approach. Sell as many of your books as you can to a book dealer and give the money you receive to the charity of your choice. This will allow you to raise money for ANY qualified charity, not just those that resell books. Furthermore, by giving a cash donation, you have a non-disputable record of your donation and you can fill out your tax forms with peace of mind.

    Most brick-and-mortar bookstores will require you to bring your books to their store in order for them to evaluate and purchase your collection. Most online booksellers such as Crestview Books will come to your home so that you don't have to load and tote heavy boxes of books. The offer from a reputable online dealer should be at least as much as that offered by a brick-and-mortar store. If you do not know the dealer, or if they are not recommended by a trusted friend or professional organizer, do not let them into your home unless you have someone with you.

    Using this sell-and-donate strategy is a win-win-win! You win because you have evidence of your donation. Your charity wins because they get money they can use right away without having to use valuable time cleaning, storing and sorting them for sale. The small business book dealer wins by obtaining needed inventory to keep the business running.


    Sell them yourself at a garage sale or online at a website such as eBay. For your garage sale you should price your books at or below what they would bring at a thrift store. Selling your books online will probably give you the largest amount of money but it is not quick and easy.


    If you have a book that you believe may be of significant value, contact an established dealer or auction house for an opinion before you let go of a real treasure!

  • 01 Feb 2015 10:49 AM | Anonymous

    With the advent of the digital age, many people assumed that we would naturally evolve into a paperless world. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

    As a professional organizer, I can attest to the fact that paper clutter is a universal problem in our homes. Almost every organizing client I have worked with struggles with how to manage the constant influx of paper within their home and/or office. It comes at us from all angles…the mailbox, our kids’ backpacks, our shopping bags, and even our desktop printer. Paper clutter creates stress because it represents a plethora of unmade decisions and incomplete tasks that require our time and attention to process.

    So what what’s a stressed-out paper clutter sufferer to do?

    Begin by turning off the faucet.

    Imagine trying to drink water out of a fire hydrant...pretty overwhelming, right?

    Image © Depositphotos.com FedeCandoniPhoto

    In order to effectively take a drink out of the faucet, you first need to reduce the water flow to something that’s manageable:

    Image © Depositphotos.com andrey1000

    The same holds true for paper! The first step in effectively managing your household papers is to reduce what’s coming into your home. The less paper that comes into your home, the less time required to organize and maintain your paper, and the more likely you will be to stay on top of your paper management system.

    10 Tips for Reducing the Paper "Gush" to a Manageable "Drip"

    1.Cancel subscriptions for newspapers/magazines/newsletters that you never read (research whether these periodicals are available online)

    2.Politely decline flyers and handouts offered by vendors/sales people (tell them your family is “going paperless”!)

    3. Avoid printing documents that can be accessed online

    4. Sign up to receive paperless bills/financial statements and take advantage of online bill pay services whenever possible

    5. Call your credit card companies and ask that your name and address not be sold to other companies

    6. Contact magazines/catalogs that you subscribe to and ask that your name and address not be sold to other companies

    7. When you donate money to a charity or order a product/service, ask that your name and address not be sold to other companies

    8. Don’t fill out warranty cards – they are a way to collect addresses for mailing lists. Your warranty is valid without submitting your information

    9. Avoid entering sweepstakes or contests. They are a way to collect addresses for mailing lists

    10. Take advantage of “Unsubscribe” resources devoted to reducing junk mail, including:

    • Dmachoice.org - Remove your name from the Direct Marketing Association’s marketing lists (represents approximately 80% of total U.S. marketing mailings)
    • Catalogchoice.org - Selectively choose the catalogs that you want to receive, as well as your preference for how frequently you receive catalogs
    • OptOutPrescreen.com - Opt out of credit card and insurance offers
    • Paper Karma app – Use this app to take a photo of unwanted mail and the app automatically contacts the sender and requests to them to remove you from their distribution list

    Systematically implementing each of these “unsubscribe” processes will require a bit of time and effort up front, but doing so will result in significantly less paper (and less stress) in your life!

  • 01 Jan 2015 11:16 AM | Anonymous

    Did you know that at least 50 percent of all Americans make a New Year’s resolution? That sounds reasonable.  But, according to research, 88 percent of those people fail!  While everybody is excited to start the New Year with fresh ideas and resolutions, many times we lose steam by February.  Here are three super secrets for keeping your resolutions.

    SECRET #1 - Make your resolutions specific and attainable. 

    Not only do you need to know what your resolutions are, you also need to know how you will accomplish them! Start by breaking down your goals into small steps of action that you can easily manage, so that you don’t get overwhelmed and do nothing.  

    For example, if your resolution is to conquer your email back log, then your first small step could be to choose ten emails to delete. Your next small step might be to unsubscribe to ten newsletters or blogs that you never read.  These tasks take less than five minutes and you can do them every day!  The idea is to create tiny habits that will become part of your normal routine, so you will do them without even thinking about it.   These tasks will keep you moving forward in order to achieve your ultimate goal.

    SECRET #2 - Hold yourself accountable for reaching your goals.  

    You can do this in a few ways.  First you can write down your goals.  There is something about having them in black and white that makes you more likely to accomplish them.  You can even post your list in a place where you will see them every day.  Next, tell your colleagues and friends about your resolutions.  The more people who know about them, the bigger support system and cheering section you will have!  

    Also, many people enlist an accountability partner.  This is a person with whom you communicate regularly about your goals and resolutions. Often times, it is easier to keep a promise to someone else rather than yourself.  If you tell your accountability partner that you will follow up on a particular lead before your next meeting, you will have to answer to her if you don’t do it!

    SECRET #3 - Reward Yourself Often!

    Yes, you deserve it! Positive feedback significantly increases your chance for success. Start by recognizing your small steps or mini-goals.  For instance, if your resolution is to organize your desk, and you have cleaned out just one drawer, then it is time for a reward.  

    Pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to that cup of fancy coffee that you love.  This will be great motivation to continue the process. Take small steps until you have achieved your goal.

    Finally, laugh at minor setbacks and keep a CAN DO attitude. Remember it is always better to get back on track than to give up!

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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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