Posts Tagged ‘October’

President’s Message, October 2015

Monday, September 28th, 2015
Vanessa Seifert, President

Vanessa Seifert, President

I was looking for ideas and doing research for this blog so I did what everyone does…I Googled “blog for organizers”! It has been awhile since I did this and the sheer volume of information was overwhelming. English (American, Australian and British), Spanish, German, French articles flooded my computer screen. This started me thinking, if I was having issues finding something specific with organizing how complex must this be for people who are looking for advice for their homes and business? So, I Googled some more – organizing tips, organizing marketing, organizing for dummies – YIKES!

Now add to that extensive list the multitude of electronic options for marketing: mobile, Evernote, Constant Contact, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and so on. Where do we begin? How do we possibly manage it all? To that end, NAPO WDC has been making an effort to enlighten and educate its members on some of the vast options available to us. Last year we had presentations from Google and Virtuallinda. This year we will continue our education with Constant Contacts, Home Zada and virtual organizing.

We will host our first live webinar meeting October 5th with Elizabeth Dodson of Home Zada. She will be discussing how to go digital in our clients homes and help them organize & manage their documents & possession. This is a closed webinar and you can only view it at the meeting so please join us.

How to Avoid Burnout

Monday, September 29th, 2014
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.

October 2013 Meeting Summary

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

The October NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, October 7, 2013 in Fairfax, VA. There were 35 members and three guests in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking. Members visited the Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables hosted by Juli Monroeof 1 to 1 Discovery and the Ask the Experts table.

Chapter President Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.
Director of Membership Kimberly Gleason introduced our three guests.
Director of Corporate Partners Mary Malmberg introduced our Corporate Partners in attendance:



Helen Long

Partners Estate Sales

Joe Johnson

Shelf Genie

Alonso Zamora


Juli Monroe

1 to 1 Discovery

Max Rhodes

123 Junk

Eduardo Maal

PC Mango

Guests: Micheal Botts (Service Master by Mike), Laurie Krause (Keller Williams Realty)

Max Rhodes spoke about 123 Junk. The “123” stands for how they get rid of items; first they donate what they can, then they recycle, and they dispose of the rest. The “123” also stands for the company’s core values: culture of excellence, environmental stewardship, and strong community ties.

Educational Program

Janice Rasmussen introduced the educational program: Senior Housing 101: The Basics for Professional Organizers by Heidi Garvis.

Heidi stressed that older adults want two things: to maintain control and to leave a legacy. It is important to recognize this when working with senior clients.

Organizers can take the type of housing into consideration when helping a senior downsize and/or move. Professional Organizers also need to recognize the emotional stresses a downsizing move can cause.

Chapter Business Meeting

Susan Kousek, NAPO National Secretary, reviewed the proposed NAPO National Bylaw changes. Voting will be on the proposed changes will cover:
1. Changes to membership categories
2. Addition of three new membership categories
3. Change to allow increasing the size of the Nominating Committee.

NAPO National has been working on the bylaw changes for over 1.5 years. All NAPO members are encouraged to vote.

The next meeting take place on November 4, 2013 in Bethesda, MD.

October 2013 Upcoming Meeting

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013 @ 6:30pm

Kena Shriners

9001 Arlington Boulevard

Fairfax, VA 22031

Senior Housing 101: The Basics for Professional Organizers

At least 70 percent of the over 65 population will require long-term care service and more than 40 percent will need nursing home care. Thus, the increasing number of older adults needing help forces us to change the way we live, play, work and do business!

This is the time when Professional Organizers can assist families struggling to transition to senior living. Since you are often the “front line”, it’s important to understand how fear, apprehension and often sadness can significantly impact the way we advise seniors.

In this session, participants will learn about:

  • The only three living options older adults have
  • Senior housing options
  • What you need to know about senior communities
  • Senior relocation stresses
  • The two most important senior needs

GarvisHeadShotCo-founder of Caring Considerations and resident of Fairfax, Virginia, Heidi Garvis is a Senior Housing Consultant and is Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). She has over seven years of experience in the senior living and housing industry. Most recently her experience lies in sales and marketing at a local Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

“I came into the senior living industry and then started Caring Considerations because I was able to incorporate two long-held passions: helping and educating people. Supporting families and their loved ones allows me to incorporate my core values which include listening, empathy, responsiveness, and positivity,” she adds.

Heidi has lived in Fairfax since 1987 and is a married mother of two children. She is a board member of Senior Services of Alexandria, a non-profit organization in Alexandria, Virginia.

6:30-7:00 pm – “Ask the Expert” Focus Group

If you are new to organizing, attend the “Ask the Expert” session. It is an informal gathering where new organizers can receive free advice on owning an organizing business from members of the Golden Circle, a prestigious designation within NAPO for experienced organizers.

President’s Message: Tackling Procrastination

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Eileen LaGreca, NAPO-WDC Board President

Do you ever worry that some of your organizing skills aren’t as exceptional as they should be? If you’re honest, the answer is yes. That’s OK. We are all works in progress and it’s a sign of maturity to know what our strengths and weaknesses are. For example, I can whip a kitchen into shape like nobody’s business and my filing system is a thing of beauty. And yet I struggle with tendencies of procrastination. My skills and habits have gotten much better with practice, but I sometimes struggle with getting things done on time.

Procrastination is a common problem – in fact, 20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. They may not get their bills paid on time, they miss deadlines at work, and I’m sure you’ve seen the problems it can cause on the home front! Procrastination is physically unhealthy, too. It causes the body to release stress hormones that can wreak havoc with our immune system.

There are five earmarks of chronic procrastinators:
• They overestimate the time they have to perform tasks
• They underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks
• They overestimate how motivated they will feel the next day or the next week
• They think that succeeding at a task requires that they feel like doing it
• They believe that doing a task when they don’t feel like it will make the finished product less than satisfactory.

Procrastinators look for distractions, especially ones that don’t use a lot of brain energy. Checking email is a prime example. It can be a way of staying busy while not getting anything done. Excessive list making and perfectionism can also be used by procrastinators to delay the real work.

So, how do we tackle procrastination? Author Hara Estroff Marano lists five strategies you can use:
• Make a list of everything you have to do
• Set realistic goals
• Break it down into specific tasks
• Make your task meaningful
• Promise yourself a reward
• Eliminate tasks you never plan to do – be honest!
• Estimate the time you think it will take to complete a task and then increase the amount by 50%.

Use these strategies with your clients and with yourself if you struggle with procrastination tendencies. And remember that even though we all have certain organizing weaknesses, it doesn’t mean we don’t provide a great deal of value to our clients. Sometimes they like to know we’re not as perfect as we seem!

Your Productivity Manifesto

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Plan-On-A-NapkinYou know the dictionary definition of productivity, right? Productivity is having the ability to produce an abundance of crops, goods, or other commodities.

But let’s ask, what’s so productive about producing a lot of something, if it’s not the thing you wanted in the first place? Producing a lot of what you don’t really want or need isn’t productivity in my world; it’s busywork.

True productivity begins with focus, with getting clear about what really matters to you and your business. What MUST your business do for you? What must it do for your clients? What must it do for the world? What do you as the owner of your small business want to be, do and have now and in the future? We gain focus by sticking with just those things we really want to be, do and have, and letting the rest go.

To say that something is a priority means that you will attend to it first. You express your true priorities by giving them your time + attention + energy + money. So true productivity asks us to think of the smallest, easiest step we can take to move us closer to our heart’s desire, then doing that step before we do anything else. To take any other step is to be less than our productive best.

When small business owners adopt this definition of productivity, the results can be astounding. We see small business owners who are set free to do their best work (not just busywork.) We get less stress and more ease. Less effort. More success.

It takes a small investment of time to figure out what we really want. And by small, I mean around 2 percent of a working year. Really! In 8 hours (all at once or spread over several days) it is possible to make a very good annual plan. Breaking it down into a quarterly plan will take about an hour each quarter. Dividing that quarterly plan into a fresh monthly plan takes about 30 minutes each month. Then checking in and transferring tasks to the calendar requires about 15 minutes each week. That’s less than 2 percent of a work year spent on planning.

Who among us has not wasted at least 2 percent of a day or a week by running around working on things that didn’t actually have to be done? (That busywork again!) Investing a small amount of time in planning will create the focus needed to move ahead with a minimum of wasted effort, so that owners of very small businesses become focused and genuinely free, creating wealth and sharing it widely.

When owners of very small businesses are truly productive, we get people who have time to spare and money to share. This is what it takes to change the world.

Diverging-Train-TracksThe smallest shift can have immense impact down the line. Think of the train that leaves Washington, DC heading west. When 2 sets of tracks diverge, the difference between them is just millimeters at first. However, that one small choice determines whether the train ends up in Winnipeg or Waco.

What’s your plan? Where would you like to go? What’s the smallest, easiest step that will take you in that direction?

Do it now!

Margaret-LukensIn 2003, Margaret Lukens founded New Leaf + Company to work with owners of very small businesses. Through Plan To Thrive™, a proprietary program Margaret developed, she gives small business owners the tools and skills they need to build a business they’ll love. A popular speaker and workshop presenter, she travels widely (which she loves.) She actively supports programs that improve access to education and increase economic opportunity, especially for girls and women. To learn more visit her website at, and schedule a complimentary consultation at

October 2012 Meeting Summary

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The October NAPO-WDC chapter meeting was held on Monday, October 1, 2012, in Fairfax, VA.  There were 34 members and 2 guests in attendance.

The meeting started with active networking.  Members visited the new Corporate Partner Meet and Greet tables: Resale Solutions and Partners Estate Sales.

Eileen LaGreca welcomed everyone.

Terri Fischer then introduced Corporate Partners in attendance: Ron Goodes with Resale Solutions, Helen Long with Partners Estate Sales, Joe Johnson with ShelfGenie, Raea Jean Leinster with Yuck Old Paint, Alonso Zamora with B-Thrifty, Zach Johnson with 123 Junk, Denny Stotlemeyer with Closet Factory, Andy Reiman with Modern Image, Alex Powers with Junk King, Shellie Abel with Nova Gold, LLC.

Maria White introduced our 2 guests and 2 new members.

Educational Program
Pierrette Ashcroft introduced the educational program: Is Your Jewelry Box a Treasure Chest? by Jamie Grasso, NovaGold, LLC.

Jamie discussed how NovaGold, LLC works with clients to liquidate their jewelry, coins, or other metal objects.  She shared several stories of clients who didn’t think they had anything valuable, only to find out they had a real treasure!  NovaGold, LLC can also work with clients to redesign jewelry to make sentimental pieces useful again.

Chapter Business Meeting
Membership renewal has ended.  Prospective members should join now!

There is still time to register for MARCPO – it’s October 13th!

Our door prize winner was Keri Myers and she won a DVD.

The next meeting will be November 5, 2012, in Bethesda, MD.

October 2012 Meeting

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012 @ 6:30pm

Kena Shriners

9001 Arlington Boulevard

Fairfax, VA 22031

Is Your Jewelry Box a Treasure Chest?

When helping your clients get organized or downsizing do you know which of their items are valuable? Jamie Grasso will educate us about estate jewelry (gold, silver and platinum), diamonds and precious gems, silver flatware and holloware and coins. You will learn how quality and value are determined and how to assist your clients in maximizing the value of their treasured objects, if they wish to sell them.  

Jamie Grasso, Gemological Institute of America certified AJP is co-founder  of NovaGold, LLC, a licensed, bonded and insured company. Jamie brings to the company 25+ years of sales, marketing and business experience. She has spent the majority of her career in the IT world as an enterprise software client executive to the Department of Defense. Jamie is a native Northern Virginian, attended George Mason University and is currently raising her 2 children with her husband, Michael.

6:30-7pm – Ask the Expert” Focus Group

If you are new to organizing, attend the “Ask the Expert” session. It is an informal gathering where new organizers can receive free advice on owning an organizing business from members of the Golden Circle, a prestigious designation within NAPO for experienced organizers.

President’s Message: It’s All In The Details

Monday, September 24th, 2012

It’s so true. How do your clients remember the details of their experience with you? Of course some think you are brilliant! They can’t live without you! But what about the others? You can learn more from them than the happy customers. No one likes rejection or negative feedback, but the knowledge you will gain by asking them some detailed questions will be worth it. It’s all about keeping the lines of communication open and listening for those details that you can use to improve.

To do this you need to create an environment where all your current clients and prospective clients can give feedback easily. Make some of your contact direct and some indirect. Give everyone as much opportunity to communicate “the details” with you as possible. Have you tried some of these avenues for communication and feedback?

  • Have an event. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just creative and fun.
  • Create a newsletter and deliver it to your contact list at least once a month and don’t ask for anything.
  • Pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them. It’s as good as answering that ringing phone.
  • Write thank you notes to your clients who would not expect one. Do it often.
  • Make use of a blog. Don’t just have one, actually post useful information on it regularly. You may be surprised who’s reading it.
  • Keep in touch with people in the industry for no reason but to say hi. They will remember you later.
  • Contact every client who stops working with you and find out why.
  • Stay in touch with people you used to work with. Don’t ask for anything, just stay in touch.
  • Put together a list of services you can refer to others. Get to know these people who can also help your clients.
  • Run classes for your clients. Maybe they will bring a friend (new client) with them.

I am not suggesting that you fill your to-do list with these action items. Pick the one that you are most comfortable with and commit to doing it. Then later, find another way to build on your success. Sometimes running a small business is all in the details that you present to your clients.

If you’d like to contact our President, you can email her at

Be Prepared: Organizing Vital Documents for Family Members

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that “state treasurers currently hold $32.9 billion in unclaimed bank accounts and other assets.” For the past year, Good Morning America has hosted a segment called “Show Me the Money” where they help people get connected to money that is rightfully theirs. It’s easy to overlook an insurance policy, deed or even have a bank account fall off the radar screen, especially if you face old age or dementia.

This is not a new problem and the amount of money involved highlights the enormity of this issue. I care for two parents with dementia and one of the biggest frustrations I face is the ongoing scavenger hunt for my parent’s documents. They believed they had all their paperwork in order, but failed to consider that their memories would fade. Estate planning doesn’t cover all the practical matters of managing someone with dementia, nor does it provide a catchall when a loved one dies. The devil is in the details – details many people fail to document.

Many of my friends and colleagues have shared stories of the agony of searching for documents when their parents passed on. And since many of us now have our banking and investment accounts on line, this has made it even more difficult for another family member or caregiver to access our account details and information in the case of death or disability. Most banks will only accept a durable power of attorney if it is on their letterhead. Even so, this is not a golden ticket to navigate the many obstacles you will face in trying to manage a loved one, especially if you need to access their accounts to pay bills and support their care.

The kindest thing we can do for our loved ones is to get our own house in order should we even be temporarily disabled and a loved one needs to step in and assist us. There are several categories of documents to consider and some just require that you make a copy so it can be easily accessed if needed.

In addition to the standard items typically recommended, I’ve included several that were required as I have walked the journey with my parents over the past year. While these don’t apply to everyone, they should be comprehensive enough to help most Americans.

The Essentials

• Will

• Living Will

• Do-not-resuscitate order

• Trust

• Specific instructions regarding your wishes

• Durable Power-of-Attorney (many financial institutions won’t recognize this if it is not on their letterhead)

• Durable heath care power of attorney

• Location of documents and as needed access to safety deposit box or home safe combination

Personal Documents

• Birth certificate

• Social Security number

• Marriage license/divorce papers

• Driving license

• Military identification/service records

• Other professional license numbers

• Immigration documents (if not a U.S. citizen or a new citizen)

Financial Documents

Each should include website, user names, passwords and PINs as established.

• Bank accounts

• Retirement, investment and brokerage accounts

• Stock certificates

• Savings bonds

• Life insurance policies

• Loans, debts or mortgage accounts

• Partnership and corporate operating agreements

• Tax returns

Medical Documents

• Personal medical history

• Family medical history

• List of prescriptions and dosage

• List of healthcare providers

• Medical insurance and any related website, username, passcode and PIN as established


• Home, land or cemetery deeds

• Documentation on any home or land improvements with receipts

• Auto titles

• Service plan records, schedules and preferred providers

• Utility accounts and any related website, username, passcode and PIN as established


• Email

• Social Media (FaceBook, Linked-In)

• Online services (Amazon, Paypal, Shutterfly)

After pulling most of these documents together, so many people asked me about the system I used that I turned it into a business. You can do this yourself or for your clients, or consider using the guided workbook called the MemoryBanc Register to help get your paperwork organized. Use “NAPO” as the coupon code on to receive a 10 percent discount off every order.

This is a difficult journey, but I decided to make the most of it by launching my business and sharing the many lessons I have learned. If you have a parent or loved one with dementia, you can find many tips and tales on I hope this helps you and your family.

Kay Bransford is the founder of MemoryBanc. Several years ago, her mom called to ask how to get money into their bank account. That call started a six month odyssey. The result was an organizational system that she and her siblings use to help support and care for their parents and their assets.

When colleagues and friends saw what Kay had developed, they asked for their own versions. Kay launched MemoryBanc in 2011 and with the MemoryBanc Register, a 3-ring binder in which users collect and store information and details on personal, financial, medical, online and household accounts.

Before launching MemoryBanc, Kay spent more than 20 years in a variety of sales, marketing and business development positions to include Best, ACA, SIIA, Vocus, Global Secure and Washington Speakers Bureau.