Sometimes “Getting Organized” is Not Enough

January 22nd, 2014

If your New Year’s Resolution is to “get organized,” I applaud you and support you!

Getting organized is a fantastic goal for so many reasons, but let’s look beyond the surface for a moment. Think of the 3-year old always asking WHY? WHY do you want to get organized? WHAT’S the payoff? WHAT’S the driver? 

For example, is the reason:

  • To Make More Money? – Do you want to be more efficient at work? Do you want to spend less time looking for things and less time on administrative tasks, so you can focus on the core revenue stream of your business and make more money?
  • To Be in Control? – Do you sometimes feel a loss of control over your office environment where you are in a reactive mode instead of a proactive mode? Do you yearn for a greater sense of control where you know where everything is when you need it? Do you crave order, but you’re working in chaos?
  • To Save Money? – How much did you rack up in finance charges and late fees this year? Are you trying to tighten your budget? Do you find yourself buying duplicate items because you can’t find the original one?

Understanding the driver behind your goal will help you get through the tough spots and provide that extra boost of motivation to see the aim through to the end. Happy New Year and here’s to getting organized!

Heather Cocozza PMP, CPO®, is a professional organizer from Arlington, VA, who has been in the business for 8 years, helping people organize their lives, time management skills, and space. Cocozza previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Managing Consultant for 10 years and then worked for IBM as a Project Manager for 3 before using her skills towards professional organizing.  She graduated from American University—Kogod School of Business in 1992. For more, check out

Coryn Cocozza is a junior at James Madison University majoring in Media Arts and Design and working toward her minor in Political Science. She is a member of the Delta Gamma Fraternity and has goals to work in Journalism after graduation.

January 2014 Meeting Summary

January 20th, 2014

The January NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, January 6, 2014 in Bethesda, MD. There were 30 members and 5 guests in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking while members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by Lori Krause of Building Bridges Partners and Juli Monroe of 1 to 1 Discovery and the Ask the Experts table.

Mary Malmberg introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Helen Long

Partners Estate Sales

Candy Speight

Shelf Genie

Eduardo Maal

PC Mango

Lori Krause

Building Bridges Partners

Alonso Zamora


Andy Reiman

 Modern Image

Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery

Max Rhodes

123 Junk

Guests: Errol Unikel from Home Contents Videos

Eduardo Maal spoke about PC Mango. PC Mango works with businesses to align their e-mail, contacts, and calendar to save time and money. They also provide ways to back-up and keep data secure. To help clients that want to go paperless, they will set-up work processes to digitize client’s documents. They offer free complimentary consultations.

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Simplifying Online Marketing: Getting from Overwhelm to Action by Linda Schenk.

Linda spoke about how to implement a marketing plan without feeling overwhelmed.  When developing your marketing plan, it is important to have a good foundation.  This involves developing one marketing tool at a time to reduce feeling overwhelmed by all the available options.  To determine the best option for you and your business, focus on how you can get to your fastest route to income.  Once you’ve established your business on one marketing tool, add another one.

Linda also noted that having an on-line presence can make referrals easier because it backs up what your referral source is saying; if you have an outdated social media profile it can mean less referrals.

Chapter Business

Janet Schiesl and Maria White thanked our wonderful GO Month volunteers!

The next meeting will be February 3, 2014 in Fairfax, VA.

Time to Join NAPO-WDC Leadership Team?

December 30th, 2013
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 from January 8 to February 21, 2014. You can also request an application from Janet Schiesl.

Happy New Year!

3 Awesome Weekly Planning Tools for the Paper Person

December 23rd, 2013

I’ve always been a big fan of planning my day. My New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to plan my week as well, on a consistent basis, and I’m encouraging my clients to do the same.

Design solutions can support us when we are changing our habits, so I am trying a few different products to make my habit change easier. I keep an electronic calendar (on my iPhone which I sync to Outlook), but I find it difficult to grasp what my week looks like. Don’t ask me why, but even if I’m sitting in front of my computer, I enter appointments on my iPhone and use the Outlook calendar only for backup.

I was looking for a solution so I could see my week in its entirety and realized I’d better work fast. I have so much to do! Like many of my clients, I am a visual person and I love color. Here are three products I’m trying out (all from the Container Store):

Lulalu® Weekly Notepad, $15.99

LulaluNotepad10057938_xIt’s a pad of 50 sheets, 10” x 10”. The pad itself is sticky, but the individual sheets are not. Great colors! I have it stuck to my office door, visible from my desk, and I write on the top sheet so I can see at a glance what my week looks like. My office walls are aqua, my door is white and it brightens up the space. I don’t put all my tasks on it, just the big things – client appointments, conference calls, project work. I write as big as I can in a fine point Sharpie, so I can actually read it when I’m sitting at my desk.

Post-It® Dry Erase Planner, $8.99

PostItDryErasePlannerThis is cool. Again, great colors! This one is sticky and removable, so you can reposition it on any smooth surface: wall, refrigerator, inside a cabinet, etc. It’s 16” x 6” and I have mine on the side of a white bookcase that I can see/read when I look to my left while sitting at my desk. It’s dry-erase (markers sold separately). The columns can be customized for what ever you want: days of the week, projects, family members, etc. I have mine labeled Monday through Sunday and have it vertical rather than horizontal. When I first used it, I color coded items – one color for client appointments, one for NAPO work, one for work projects, one for fun – but it got to be too much work, so I just write everything in black now.


Weekly calendar sticky notes $9.99


The third product is smaller and black and white with a touch of red for Sunday, the day of rest (11 ¾” x 2 ¾”). It’s a pad of 60 individual sticky sheets labeled with the days of the week. I offered a long-time client her choice of these three weekly planners as a gift. She’s very visual and loves color, and this is the one she selected! I was surprised, but she liked the simplicity of it. It’s one of the Container Store’s stocking stuffers offered only during the holidays. I haven’t used this one myself yet, but I intend to use it for meal planning (another New Year’s resolution). It could also be used for children’s chores or any sort of to-do items. I’m going to ask the Container Store if they can stock some of this Korean company’s other products (

Susan Kousek is a Certified Professional Organizer® and the owner of Balanced Spaces®, LLC in Reston, Va. Since 1990, she’s been helping clients learn how to stay organized and avoid that feeling of overwhelm. Susan believes that planning your day, and your week, is one of the best time management habits you can have. Whether you’re a solopreneur, a small business owner or an employee of a corporation, trade association or government agency, Susan can help you improve your productivity and focus, and put some balance back in your life. For more information, visit her web site

December 2013 Meeting Summary

December 17th, 2013

The December NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, December 2, 2013 in Fairfax, VA.

NAPO-WDC kicked off the holiday season with a White Elephant sale, My Favorite Things presentations, and fabulous catered food!

The Second Annual White Elephant Sale was a colossal success! It was obvious that even professional organizers have items they no longer want, as chapter members arrived at the meeting, bringing hundreds of organizing and business items for our White Elephant Sale. We had books on organizing, file folders, storage boxes, containers for this, containers for that, books on running your business, trays, note pads, drawer organizers, tote bags, 3-ring binders with sheet protectors, more books and many more items. All were priced to sell quickly – at $1, $2, or $3. And we even had a “free” table.

Nicole Athas (left) and C. Lee Cawley selling lots of great deals for $1!

Nicole Athas (left) and C. Lee Cawley selling lots of great deals for $1!

Special thanks to Nealey Stapleton who coordinated the White Elephant Sale and to the ten volunteers who staffed the event – Susan Kousek, Judy Tiger, Nicole Athas, Judy Parkins, C. Lee Cawley, Tiffany Mensing, Penny Catterall, Alisa Levy, Jody Al-Saigh and Maria White. The White Elephant sale collected over $260.  Half of the money went to our Community Partner, Women Giving Back, and the other half went to the winner of the raffle ticket drawing – Judy Tiger.

What did we do with the stuff that was left at the end of the evening? Corporate Partner B-Thrifty was on hand to take it all away to their thrift store in Woodbridge, VA. After many of the White Elephant goodies were snapped up, chapter members presented over 25 of their favorite organizing products and services. Some of the crowd favorites were “Shush!”, an Android app that turns your phone’s ringer back on after a set amount of time (presented by Janet Schiesl), using bar mats to store messy oil and vinegar bottles, sponges, or dish soap (presented by Kyra Szanto), and using cut pool noodles to store your boots upright and help keep their shape (presented by Mary Malmberg).

What an evening! We offered chapter members an opportunity to easily shed some of their excess stuff, buy items  they needed at a great price, make a donation to a charity, and share some awesome organizing products!

Chapter members enjoyed tasty treats and networking while shopping the White Elephant Sale!

Chapter members enjoyed tasty treats and networking while shopping the White Elephant Sale!

During the business portion of the meeting, Janet Schiesl and Maria White spoke about the upcoming chapter GO Month event, to take place on Saturday, January 4th. We will be helping our Community Partner, Women Giving Back, organize their warehouse and store. In addition, Penny Catterall, Director of Communications and Technology, announced the launch of the new mobile website for the NAPO-WDC Chapter. 

The next meeting will take place on  January 6, 2014 in Bethesda, MD.

What To Do When Business Is Slow

November 25th, 2013
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.

3 Tips For When Your Clients Get Stuck

November 18th, 2013

Stuck-ClientsFirst, let me just say how challenging and noble it is to support people in accomplishing their goals. IT IS CHALLENGING & NOBLE to support people in accomplishing their goals. (There, I said it!)

No doubt it is rosy and fun when everything is going swimmingly ~ client sets goal, client takes action, client and service provider celebrate success. Wooohooo, right? But what about the times that DON’T go that way?

For someone like you who is committed to his/her services making a difference, that can be frustrating and even heartbreaking to witness. This is definitely an experience that professional coaches and professional organizers have in common!  We are committed to our clients achieving success and every client is different ~ each has their own process (some not very linear). We are the champions for what they say they want, even in those moments where they “don’t feel like it” or “are tired” or “life is not cooperating” with their goals.

There are no magic answers, but here are a few suggestions to keep in mind for when your clients are stuck.

  1. Find out some key information ahead of time.

When a client hires me one of the first things that I ask them is, “What should I say to you when things get tough?” It is so great to have something that is “in their words” to share with them in the moment when they find themselves stuck. Their words, in those moments, can be much more powerful than anything I might think of saying. I once had a mentor tell me… “Never pit yourself against the client… always pit the client against themselves.” This is an opportunity for them to remind themselves of what is important.

  1. Recount their successes to date.

One side effect of being stuck is feeling really, really (REALLY) bad about oneself. Chances are your client is punishing him/herself for not having done x, y, z. Feeling bad is not always conducive to getting back in action (there are exceptions!). I see this as an opportunity to have clients recount their successes to date. If they are having trouble, feel free to prompt them with successes you’ve noted. (You might even keep a success journal for your clients – just for moments like this!) Most human beings are supreme at seeing where “they haven’t…” and need a lot more practice in seeing where “they have…!”

  1. Use it as an opportunity to un-stick yourself.

Okay, this tip is my secret super weapon (use with caution – results may be awesome!). When more than two of my clients are presenting with “goal-stuck-ness,” I might use that as an opportunity to look at my own life. Energy is contagious and I start to wonder if my own “stuck-ness” is rubbing off on my clients – even in a subtle way. You can use the stuck-ness of your clients as an opportunity to take some big forward movement in an area of your own life that has been stagnant (we all stagnate – it is normal!). Go “knock it out of the park” in your own life and watch what happens when you bring THAT energy to your client’s space.  M-I-R-A-C-L-E-S!

For more tips or if you have questions about how to support your clients, email me at  I’d be happy to help! For life and business inspiration, check out Most Powerful Life on Facebook. Thank you again for hosting me as a guest speaker. I enjoyed my time with the NAPO DC community!



Marlene McCallum

November 2013 Meeting Summary

November 13th, 2013

The November NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, November 4, 2013 in Bethesda, MD.  There were 35 members in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking.  Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by 123 Junk and Four Sales LTD. and the Ask the Experts table.

Chapter President Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.

Director of Corporate Partners Mary Malmberg introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance.



Alonso Zamora B-Thrifty
Linden Coyne Junk In The Trunk
Andy Reiman  Modern Image
Juli Monroe 1 to 1 Discovery
Max Rhodes 123 Junk
 Lori Krause Keller Williams Realty
Dan Sanders Four Sales, LTD

Dan Sanders spoke about Four Sales, LTD. They do on-site estate sales in the DC Metro area and help maximize clients’ return.  They also do live auctions, personal property valuations, appraisals, and home inventories.

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Demystify Success: The 10 Point Goal Inspection – How to analyze & enhance goal setting to get results from Marlene McCallum, Professional Coach.

Marlene stepped through ten checkpoints to use when setting and assessing goals.  Checkpoints include passion, persistence, support, inspiration, environment, rewards.

Marlene had members think of one of their goals and go through her 10 point goal inspection process.  It is important to remember how goals rate isn’t permanent and will likely change.  Marlene also gave tips on how to increase the ranking for each checkpoint.  These checkpoints are helpful when working on personal and business goals as well as when working with clients.

Chapter Business Meeting

It’s time to vote for the NAPO Bylaws Amendments – voting is open until November 30th!

Members who have been a NAPO member for five years or more are encouraged to join Golden Circle.

The December 2nd chapter meeting in Fairfax will be a members only Holiday Party with My Favorite Things, White Elephant Sale, and good food!  Bring all your unwanted organizing and office supplies with cash to pick-up some goodies.  Contact Nealey Stapleton with any questions on the White Elephant Sale and contact Terri Fischer if you have a favorite product you would like to speak about.

President’s Message: Five Strategies to Avoid Burnout

October 28th, 2013
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Being an entrepreneur is an exciting and exhilarating life choice. We are creating a business where one did not exist, and we’re motivated by the limitless potential we see each day. We set our own schedules, create our own opportunities and choose the work we love to do. But, running your own business takes tremendous time and energy. We can easily become susceptible to burnout unless we establish safeguards to protect ourselves.

We usually think of burnout when we have more work than we can handle and are working extra hours. However, it can also happen when business is slow and we’re stressed out about finding new clients. Burnout is defined as fatigue and apathy resulting from prolonged stress or overwork. It can totally change our outlook on ourselves, our work and our health. Here are some preventive measures you can take to avoid burnout.

• Weigh the payoff of every task. Make sure you’re working on things that align with your business goals. Finishing a customer proposal is more important than cleaning out your inbox.

• Make progress with small steps. We all have visions of what our businesses can attain, and that’s a good thing. It can also be overwhelming. Keep in mind that the way to reach your goals is by taking small, persistent steps. Remember Nemo’s mantra, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” You will get where you want to go.

• Use your support team. Never underestimate the power of the people in your network. There is a tremendous amount of experience, support and knowledge within our local NAPO chapter as well as from other sources. Take advantage of it.

• Set strong boundaries. It’s hard to turn work “off”, but it’s essential for long term growth and health. Establish your working hours and stick to them. Don’t return phone calls and emails after hours. Set a consistent day off where you are completely engaged in something besides work.

• Do something different. Life is more than our work. Being involved in other activities enriches our lives and makes us more productive. Read a book that isn’t about business. Take a ride somewhere you’ve never been. Even traveling to a client by a different route is good for your brain. Think of ways to shake up your routine.

Napping Does A Body Good

October 27th, 2013

A power nap does the body and mind good.

I come from a long line of nappers. Both of my parents take a nap almost every single day and have for as long as I can remember. Naturally, I followed in their foot steps and I also nap daily. The benefits are so positive that I couldn’t imagine not taking frequent naps!


Yeah…that’s my Pug, Brisket, and me taking one of our daily power snoozes!


Benefits Of Napping

There are fantastic physical and mental health benefits related to taking a daily power nap.

In my experience, naps improve my…

  • productivity
  • alertness
  • motivation
  • focus
  • creative thinking

It’s like a little escape for my brain, because during the nap I allow my mind to shut off. After all, the things I’m thinking about will be there when I wake up.

Physically, a nap gives my body a chance to relax, whether I’m on my feet all day or I’m hunched over at my computer for hours. There are a lot of studies and statistics that show the benefits of a power nap, so check them out here!

How To Find The Time & Place

There is a common misconception that a nap has to be this long activity that people claim they don’t have time for, when it’s in fact the opposite. It’s like a fitness routine – you only need to do a little every day or every other day in order to reap the benefits.

What you do and where you work are not reasons to skip a power nap. I use to take power naps at my desk when I worked for another company, and I also do it now working from home. Whether it’s in your car, at your desk or at home, get some shut eye in any quiet, available location.

If you keep track of the time that is wasted on procrastination and/or any other time-sucking activities, I guarantee it will be more than the suggested 20 or 30 minute nap. Take that wasted time and put it to good use…a power nap!

Tips For Successful Naps

As a life-long napper, I have some more tidbits that have helped me and will hopefully aid you in taking successful naps.

  • Find the right time. Some people like to nap right after lunch, others (like me) prefer the middle of the afternoon. My ideal nap time is 3pm. That is the time that I begin to lose focus, so I’ll stop what I’m doing and take a 30-minute power nap. I wake up refreshed and still have time to get work done before I need to start preparing dinner.
  • Don’t oversleep. If you take too long of a nap, you’ll have trouble waking up, will feel groggy and probably decrease your productivity. Set an alarm, and keep your nap short and sweet.
  • Quiet, dark and covered. Do the best you can with this one; I find it much easier to fall asleep if I’m in a quiet, darker setting with a blanket. If you don’t have shades on your office window, then perhaps you could keep an eye mask in your desk drawer. Likewise, you could keep ear plugs to drown out the sounds of a busy workplace.
  • Get comfortable. Interpret this any way you’d like. For me, getting comfortable means loosening my pony tail and taking off my socks. It could mean loosening your tie, taking off your shoes, changing into sweat pants, taking off your jewelry, whatever you can do to make yourself more comfortable.
  • Focus on your breathing. This is such a great little trick. Whenever I have trouble quieting my mind (which is often!), I focus on my breath. I literally picture the air filling my stomach as I breath in and then the air leaving my body as I exhale. When I do this, I don’t waste any time trying to fall asleep…I just fall asleep. It’s lovely!

Test it out and see for yourself. Let me know what you think by commenting in the comment box below. I’d love to hear from you!

Nealey Stapleton is a professional organizer, a small business owner, an avid blogger, an adoring wife, a Pug lover, a hula hooping guru, a cheese addict and a happy napper.

She started her business, On Track, in 2007 with the goal of helping people get more organized and lead more efficient lives. A few years later, she established in hopes of extending her reach across the nation and around the world.

A professional organizer, a member of NAPO for 6 years and a NAPO-WDC board member for 4 years, Nealey absolutely loves being a part of the industry and strives to contribute to its continuing advancement. For more, you can follow Nealey on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!