What To Do When Business is Slow

January 27th, 2015
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

The dreaded lull in business. Depending on our client base and business specialties, some of us can predict slow times of the year. For others, it seems like there’s no telling why some weeks and months are busier than others. The important thing to remember is that it happens to all of us, and we can choose to use the down time to our advantage. Here are some tips:

Touch base with past clients by sending a card or email. You may trigger their desire to start a new organizing project. Even if they don’t have work now, staying in touch will keep you in mind for the future.

Renew connections. When business is slow, it’s easy to panic and go on a networking whirlwind. Cultivating relationships is important, but make sure it’s focused. Set up meetings with your best referral partners. See if there’s anything you can do for them, and ask for help in return.

Reach out to your trusted colleagues. There is no shame in going through a slow period, and yet we have a hard time admitting it to others. Develop a small group of organizer “buddies” with whom you can share your business ups and downs. One of them may be able to use you for subcontracting work, or refer you to a client with whom they would rather not work.

Work on your marketing materials. Make sure your website and Facebook pages are up to date and speak to your target market. There may be other marketing avenues you’ve been exploring, but haven’t gotten to. Now’s the time to take action.

Do some pro-bono work. There are always people in our lives who could use some extra organizing help. Use the lull in your business to help someone out. It’s good karma.

Expand your knowledge base. Take a class, attend a conference, read a book. There is always something new to learn. You never know where your next big idea will come from!

Stay positive. When we learn to expect lulls in business, they don’t seem so disastrous. Use the down time to focus on filling your client pipeline, keep in touch with your clients, and do the all-important business planning that can get overlooked when you’re busy.

Top 3 Takeaways From Organizing Roundtable Discussions

January 19th, 2015

The first NAPO-WDC meeting of 2015 was roundtable discussions led by chapter members who are experts in their fields. Each table featured a different topic, and it was fabulous! In case you missed the meeting or didn’t get to all the tables you wanted to, here are the top 3 takeaways from each discussion.


Using Scanning Technology to Organize and Store Your Electronic Filesled by Penny Catterall

  1. Invest in a dedicated document scanner such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap for fast and easy scanning.
  2. Start by scanning just the new paper that comes in, including receipts, doctors’ bills, medical records, recipes, business cards, school records, and more.
  3. Save them to a cloud-based service such as Dropbox or Evernote, or onto your hard drive. 


How To Avoid the Pitfalls in Working with Chronically Disorganized Clientsled by Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton

  1. No matter how long you have been organizing, you can always learn from your peers.
  2. Whether you like it or not, you will likely be contacted by clients that are Chronically Disorganized. Learning how to work with that population will only make you a better organizer for your already-organized clients.
  3. Chronic Disorganization requires unconventional organizing. I highly recommend everyone read Judith Kolberg’s book, “Conquering Chronic Disorganization.”


Seven Counter-Intuitive Things About Sellingled by Jane Campbell

  1. People become your customers for life when you listen to their unique issues instead of talking about you or your product.
  2. You need to obtain permission before launching a sales conversation.
  3. If a competitor can also solve a prospect’s problem, acknowledging that will lend you credibility.


Photo Organizing: Tips to Help Client So It Doesn’t Have To Be Scaryled by Jody Al-Saigh

  1. Everyone seemed to really like the recommendation I had for an app for your iPad that works as a light table to view slides. The one I have is called “The Light Table,” but there are a few freebies as well.
  2. One question that came up was what to do with negatives. My advice: toss them! You likely have the prints if you have the negatives, and there’s nowhere left to process negatives anyway.
  3. I highly recommend Rick at Digital Recollections for scanning photo/slide/video/audio transfer. I also recommend our Corporate Partner, Andy Reiman with Modern Image, to scan paper or photos.


Using Evernote to Create and Simplify Workflows for Small Businessesled by Pierrette Ashcroft

Evernote provides novices and power users a valuable knowledge base. Its potential increases as your skill level grows.
  1. Install the Web Clipper button to most browsers. Use it to clip content from any webpage to a note that is automatically saved to your Evernote account.
  2. Sync your Notes and Notebooks in the cloud. It’s automatic and gives real time access from a desktop or mobile device.
  3. Communicate with clients and colleagues through shared folders where you can collaborate on projects.


Green Organizing: Why It’s Too Good to Wasteled by Terri Fischer & Alonso Zamora

  1. Help your clients set up a convenient system for recycling near the point of use, probably the kitchen. If it’s not simple and convenient, it won’t happen.
  2. If you don’t know how to recycle something, Google “recycling, (item name), city and state.”
  3. Yes, you CAN recycle that single sock, the pants with the rip or the shirt with the ink stain. When donating, label these as “rags.” The items can be used for fibers in insulation, carpet and so on.

January 2015 Meeting Summary

January 12th, 2015

The January NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held in Bethesda, MD. There were 34 members and 5 guests in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking. Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by More Space Place – Robert Myers and Junk in the Trunk – Linden Coyne and the Ask the Experts table.

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.

Linda Pray introduced our guests.

Lori Krause introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Alonso Zamora


Linden Coyne

Junk In The Trunk

Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery

Robert Myers

More Space Place

Guests: Ben Knowlton, Olympia Movers

Lori spoke to the group about getting to know the Corporate Partners. She challenged everyone to have at least 2 one to one meetings with a Corporate Partner and get know how they can help each other. She has offered a $25 gift card to the member who has the most one to one sessions by the February meeting.

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Round Table Discussions.

Each member will be able to choose 3 discussions and will have 15 minutes to attend each session.

Table 1 – “How to Avoid the Pitfalls in Working with Chronically Disorganized Clients” –

Cris Sgrott Wheedleton

Table 2 – “Using Evernote to Create and Simplify Workflows for Small Businesses” -

Pierrette Ashcroft

Table 3 – “Seven Counter-intuitive Things About Selling”- Jane Campbell

Table 4 – “Green Organizing: Why it’s Too Good to Waste”-

Terri Fischer & Alonso Zamora

Table 5 – “Using Scanning Technology to Store and Organize Your Electronic

Files”- Penny Catterall

Table 6 – “Photo Organizing: Tips to Help Clients So it Doesn’t Have To Be Scary.”

Jody Al-Saigh

Chapter Business Meeting

GO Month/Community Partner – Stephen Bok and Max Levitt with Leveling the Playing Field

The new warehouse is ready to be organized this Saturday January 10. Max thanked everyone who has volunteered to help out.


JAN. 10 – GO Month Volunteer Activity

JAN. 15 – Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting

JAN. 20 – Maryland Book Club Meeting

JAN. 21 – Arlington /Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

JAN. 25 – Golden Circle Meeting

JAN. 26 – Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

FEB. 2 – NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Fairfax, VA

FEB. 12 – Virginia Book Club Meeting

Door Prize Drawing – Cara Bretl

Our door prize winner was Janice Rasmussen.  

The next meeting will take place on February 2, 2015 in Fairfax, VA.

Time to Join NAPO-WDC Leadership Team?

December 29th, 2014
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Every January NAPO-WDC begins the New Year with its board election process.

Just as many of us make yearly goals for our businesses, it’s time to consider how we can each contribute to our local chapter. There are many ways to volunteer throughout the year, but being part of the leadership team helps us maintain our excellence and grow our chapter.

There are many reasons members decide to take on leadership roles. We want to provide direction for the group. We want to be part of a team that respects each other and takes pride in the work we do. We realize that our chapter needs to change and adapt as our industry does, and we want to be part of it.

While volunteering can be demanding at times, the benefits far outweigh the effort. Leadership team members learn new skills in a trusting environment. We learn to communicate better and become more tech savvy. We use our talents to improve our professional association. We make new friends and expand our network.

Last but not least, we have fun!

Is this the year you’d like to run for a position on the leadership team? If so, applications are available on the Members-only section of the NAPO-WDC website now to February 21. 2015. You can also request an application from Janet Schiesl

Happy New Year!


2 Low-Tech, High Productivity Task Pads

December 22nd, 2014

At the most recent NAPO-WDC meeting, some of the chapter members presented their favorite organizing products. Here are two of the low-tech, productivity-yielding products that stood out. They are task pads for keeping track of your action items, but they are a little different than the usual to-do lists. Check them out!

keyboard weekly planner notepad

Susan Kousek told us about The Stripe Weekly Keyboard Notepad.

This is what she has to say about this task pad:

“Since the entire pad sits in front of your keyboard, you can plan a couple of weeks or more in advance. When I plan my week, I write in each day (using a Sharpie) my client appointments and major projects I’m working on that week. With it always right in front of my keyboard, it’s a constant reminder of all I have to do in that short time period! I love the bright colors and the fact that the squares are large enough to write 2 or 3 things on each day.”

You can get it at The Container Store or My Lulalu.

Jody Al-Saigh told us about the Desktop To-Do Board.

dry erase to do board

This is what she has to say about this task pad:

“I like having the day’s to-do list on hand and being able to be change it quickly. In the past, I had used notepads on my desk and always had to rewrite them as plans shifted. I like the dry erase board, because I can erase tasks that I have completed. It’s the same size as a desktop notepad and stands at an angle so as not to get lost under a pile of papers!”

You can get it at The Container Store.

These are just a few of the favorite things that were presented at the December 2014 NAPO-WDC meeting. We also learned about a new type of hanging file folder, some really useful apps, office storage boxes and more.

Don’t miss out! Be sure to attend the next meeting. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year everyone!

December 2014 Meeting Summary

December 8th, 2014

The NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, December 1, 2014 in Fairfax, VA. There were 37 members and no guests in attendance.

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.  

 Our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Alonso Zamora


Dr. Dale Keeton


Erol Unikel

Home Video Contents

Sharon Bliss

Book Bliss Online

Andy Reiman

Modern Image

Guests: Mrs. Erol Unikel

Our December meeting celebrated the upcoming holiday season and the 20th Anniversary of NAPO-WDC! 20 years of learning, sharing and doing – well done all!

Educational Program

Teri Fischer introduced the educational program: “My Favorite Organizing Products” presented by NAPO-WDC organizers.




Where to Purchase

Square Credit Card Reader



Keyboard List Pad


Container Store

Find It Hanging Folders

$12-$21/box of 20

Staples; Office Depot; online

Desktop To-Do Board


Container Store

Wunderlist App


Apple or Android App




Evernote App

Free or $5/mo. upgrade


Really Useful Boxes


Staples; Office Depot

Pouch for Square (protection for Square CC Reader)



Laser Measure (Bosch)


Staples; Office Depot


Free or $12/yr. upgrade


Wise Stamp (electronic signature)

Free or $48/yr. upgrade


30/30 Time app



Chapter Business Meeting

GO Month – The NAPO-WDC GO Month project with Leveling the Playing Field will be held on January 10, 2015. More details and information will be on the website by the middle of December. If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information, please contact Stephen at marketing@dcorganizers.org

Upcoming Events (times and locations can be found on the NAPO-WDC website)

DEC. 4  Virginia Book Club Meeting

DEC 18 Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting

DEC. 22 Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

JAN. 5 NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Bethesda, MD

JAN. 20 Maryland Book Club Meeting

JAN. 21 Arlington /Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

JAN. 25 Golden Circle Meeting

The next meeting will be January 5, 2015 in Bethesda, MD.

The New Mobile Wireless ScanSnap

November 19th, 2014

So I couldn’t imagine what else Fujitsu could come up with to surpass their already amazing line of scanners, when lo and behold, I got an advance sneak peak at their latest product, the iX100 Mobile Wireless Scanner. Yes, mobile AND wireless!

This wonderful little scanner (only about 11 inches long, 1.5 inches tall and 14 oz) combines the portability of the S1100 and the wireless capability of the iX500 in one compact package that I can actually put in my briefcase and use anywhere I feel like scanning, including my local coffee shop.

It works like this. The iX100 has a lithium battery that can power the scanner for up to 260 single sided scans. (You can charge it any time by plugging into a USB port or USB charger.) That means no cords at all except when it’s charging and for the initial set-up. In the set-up, which is made extremely easy for both Mac and PC with the included software, the installer will ask if you want to enable wireless scanning. You definitely want to do this!

One feature that I was very excited about with the introduction of this latest ScanSnap was the new ScanSnap Receipt application that accompanied it. This has been a long time coming for ScanSnap, and is one of the only things its main competitor had that it did not. All the information can be exported into a CSV file which can be very handy at tax time to hand over to your accountant, rather than a shoe box full of illegible receipts!

All in all, I am very excited to introduce this latest scanner to my business-organizing clients who work out of the office and need to scan documents and business expense receipts on the go. The iX100 is a very welcome addition to the ScanSnap family and I am looking forward to putting it through its paces over the next few months.  If you would like to read more about this scanner or any other Fujitsu ScanSnap, you can do so here.

Penny Catterall of Order Your Life, LLC offers in-person professional organizing services for clients in the Washington DC Metro area and virtually, around the world.  She specializes in home office and small business organization and helping her clients go paper-less. 

November 2014 Meeting Summary

November 6th, 2014

The November NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, November 3, 2014 in Bethesda, MD.  There were 34 members and no guests in attendance.  

The meeting started with active networking….Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by Andy Reiman and Four Sales and the Ask the Experts table.

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.   

Linda Pray introduced our new member.  

Juli Monroe introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Alonso Zamora


Dan Sanders

Four Sales LTD.

Linden Coyne

Junk In The Trunk

Andy Reiman

Modern Image

Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery

Rob Myers

More Space Place

Erol Unikel

Home Contents Video & Video Your Brand

Guests: N/A


Rob Myers spoke about More Space Place. Showroom in Chantilly; website is www.morespaceplace.com and www.Murphybedsandclosets.com In home consultation is available. Will work with organizer and their client to achieve the space desired. Along with storage components they also do room dividers and sliding doors.

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Chuck Douglas – Business Building & Revenue: Acceleration Techniques www.BusinessSuccessTraining.com

Three ways to increase Revenue

Acquire more qualified prospects

Add value to existing clientele

Increase closing rates

  1. Dramatically improve lead generation through social media monetization: mobilization including LinkedIn and Facebook strategies, as well as video testimonials.
  2. Hold your-self personally accountable and not make excuses which remove comfort zone behavior and facilitates drive and urgency for action taking.
  3. Maximize referrals in a conversational and elegant manner through Incentives, a professional and compelling preface, and elicitation of referrals with appropriate questions.
  4. Connect quickly to gain clients for life through rapport and connection enhancement as well as confidence building skill sets.
  5. Master your time with positive habits so that you “do what you know” right now to gain 2-extra hours each day.

Chapter Business Meeting

GO Month/Community Partner – Stephen Bok introduced Max Levitt from Leveling the Playing Field and he updated the group on his new warehouse location. New 4,000 square foot warehouse at 9370 Brookfield Rd. Silver Spring, MD that is in need of organizing assistance and all assistance is welcome! Alonzo will pick up at meetings; can also be pre-arranged for pick up by LPF.  www.levelingtheplayingfield.org

December Party and activities – Janice Rasmussen

NAPO WDC 20th Anniversary celebration! Dinner will be provided – volunteers will be needed to help with set up, contact Janice if you are interested in helping.  Terri Fischer will be coordinating My Favorite Things.


NOV. 11 Arlington /Alexandria Neighborhood Group Meeting

NOV. 18 Maryland Book Club Meeting

NOV. 20 Rt. 66 Neighborhood Group Meeting

NOV. 24 Rockville Pike Neighborhood Group Meeting

DEC.1    NAPO-WDC Chapter Meeting in Fairfax, VA

DEC. 4 Virginia Book Club Meeting

Our door prize winner was Eileen LaGreca. 

The next meeting will be December 1, 2014 in Fairfax, VA.

What Should I Do Next?

October 27th, 2014
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

This month I’m sharing a blog post written Janet Schiesl, our Immediate Past President. It seems particularly relevant in light of everything we learned at our excellent MARCPO conference. Enjoy!

What should I do next? This question was asked recently in a blog post by Seth Godin, “America’s Greatest Marketer”. I often ask myself this same question. Since I have become an entrepreneur, I have found myself always looking for ways to improve and evolve my business. I look into the future and ask myself how will I get there? Do you do this too, or am I the only one?

It is important to ask yourself what you will do next. What is next for your business, your day or your life? Maybe, this question used to be answered for you by a boss. Then you decided to make the move to become a business owner. Now, you have to answer that question for yourself. It’s a little scary at first – but also empowering! You have total control over your future and you can make a difference! Even though you may not look at it in the same way, this question is asked of you by your clients every day. You need to be confident that your answer is something they and you can achieve.

With so many business opportunities and directions you can take, picking what to do next deserves a great deal of attention. As Seth said, “dance with the opportunity”. Do a little daydreaming. What will your business look like in one year from now? How about five years? What you will do next deserves some consideration. Think about it!

Where are the Boundaries for the Professional Organizer?

October 20th, 2014

Professional organizers often help clients organize and manage personal and financial documentation. Many times the documentation is old, outdated, and no longer needed. The ideal solution would be that the client wants to dispose of these documents. Unfortunately, the reality is, clients will turn to the organizer for guidance and direction.

What are the rules for getting rid of paperwork? Is the organizer putting herself/himself in jeopardy for suggesting what can go and what should stay? What are the legal ramifications and how does an organizer handle purging documents?

In our litigious culture, an organizer is wise to know these answers. I work with professional organizers every day to help determine the answers to these and other questions they have about helping clients purge documents.

So, what are the rules when it comes to purging documents? Well, unfortunately there is no simple answer to that question. I frequently tell organizers that they need to answer that question with “it depends.” It really does depend on what type of document you are looking at.

Some documents you never purge. These documents are considered “official” documents and to replace them takes lots of additional paperwork, contacting government agencies, usually a fee, and a wait time of up to a year in some cases. Examples would be birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, immigration papers, military papers, and the like.

This category will also include documents that need to be updated on a regular basis, but the old documents can be purged out of the current system. This would include financial plans, household inventory, certification paperwork, warranty documents, wills, advanced directives, living wills, and other non-financial documents.

All other paperwork will fall into one of three categories. The first will usually document some sort of asset they own (like checking accounts, boats and cars, or investments). The second will document some sort of liability they owe (like car loans, mortgages, and taxes), and the third type will be insurance documents.

Professional organizers need to be very careful with helping a client purge documents. You never want to be held responsible for actually disposing of the files to be purged. Once your client makes the decision to get rid of old paperwork, involve her/him in the process. Have them sit with you and shred the documents together. Make sure they are aware of what is being shredded.

If the amount is too great to sit and shred by hand, then put it in black plastic bags and take it to someone who will shred it for them. You should not be responsible for transporting the bags to be shredded. Don’t put yourself in the position of having the client come back to you claiming you destroyed something they wanted to keep.

To protect yourself and your business, always consider carrying E&O insurance (errors and omission). Make sure the client knows, via your agreement, what you will, and what you will not do for them.

Linda Donegan began her career as a CPA with Price Waterhouse Coopers and worked on some of the firm’s highly visible clients providing audit and problem solving services. After several life altering events she realized how important personal and financial documentation is, not only for ourselves, but for those that we love. For the past 22 years, Linda has accumulated a vast amount of knowledge regarding personal and financial paperwork. She has worked with individuals and companies to educate and provide resources for managing this critical part of our lives. Linda created The Family DocuMap as a guide to organize, manage and maintain personal paperwork. She resides in Oldsmar, Florida with her husband of 30 years, Dennis.