Log in


  • October 31, 2019 10:09 AM | Diane Greenhalgh

    Diane Greenhalgh, Priority Focused Organizing

    October 31, 2019

    (left to right) Diane Greenhalgh, C. Lee Cawley, Amy O'Donnell, J.J. Jackson, Judy Tiger, Martha Blumenthal

    Earlier this month, a few of us from the NAPO-WDC chapter joined our Membership Director J.J. Jackson at an American Association of Daily Money Managers (AADMM) lunch and learn event. Daily money managers like J.J. are financial organizers who help with bills, budgets, and record-keeping, and bookkeeping.

    The presenter was Matt Paxton, an organizer out of the Richmond, VA area who formerly appeared on Hoarders and is now preparing for a January 1 launch on PBS of Legacy List with Matt Paxton. He gave a lively presentation on downsizing ideal for seniors called "Nobody Wants Your Stuff".

    He says he gets clients in the right state of mind by performing an exercise. He asks them to pretend their house has caught fire and they have two minutes to gather what they will take with them. After two minutes it is revealing what they are able to find, or rather not find.

    Here are his 10 downsizing tips.

    1. Include everyone to participate in the cleanup, including the grandkids. Do it as a family.
    2. Do a 10 minute sweep 5 nights per week to keep it up.
    3. Unpack bags right away, particularly groceries and travel suitcases.
    4. Give every item a home. Employ "equal in, equal out".
    5. Perform a 4 pile sort: Donate, Sell, Trash, Keep. Put the Keep pile across the room so you have to get up and walk over to it.
    6. Distribute legacy items, like heirlooms, now.
    7. Avoid punting the decision of who gets what to the kids to avoid disputes. For those children having to split the estate, a tool to use is Fair Split so everyone gets a fair share of the value since each item is not equal to others.
    8. Donate, donate, donate, but not Goodwill or other places where you (or your client) shop. Try to find places that actually put the products in the hands of people in need. Keep a donation box in your trunk, not in the house. If you have to carry it out you're less likely to do it.
    9. Be realistic about what you will use. Turn hangers around and get rid of those not switched after a year. Get rid of expired food.
    10. Pare down photos and paper by putting a shred box in the trunk of your car, shutting down the stream of mail coming in, getting rid of any photos from your backlog that aren't of people, keeping 20 photos per year and writing the stories on the back, using frames like Little DaVinci dynamic frames that you can put your children's artwork in and switch out each week then each month put the best one in memorabilia.

    Thanks to J.J. for inviting us to such a fun event!

  • October 28, 2019 2:46 PM | Anonymous

    Gina Weatherup Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation 

    October 28, 2019

    I’ve been talking to people a lot recently about empathy – what it is, what are our reactions to it, how can it be helpful – or not.

    Many people believe empathy is a good thing, but do not generally give it a lot of thought, particularly when it comes to professional relationships. Whether you work primarily in an office as part of a team, primarily with clients, or primarily on your own, acknowledging that emotions are a part of life and being open to sharing compassion can be hugely beneficial – yes, even at work.

    Compassion & Empathy – What’s the Connection?

    Empathy is when we feel, or understand, someone else’s emotion. Compassion is one of the possible responses to empathy; in fact, it’s the goal. When we can see that someone else is in any type of distress – dealing with an emotion we typically think of as “negative” like anger, sadness, grief, disappointment, etc. – compassion is what we’re feeling if our response is to help them, or to fulfill their need.

    For example, if I’m mediating between two parties, and one of them is so distressed she bursts into tears, I may or may not be able to accurately name her emotion. It could be anger, grief, or sadness. Regardless of naming the emotion, if I feel an impulse to offer her some comfort – be it a tissue, words of comfort, or placing my hand on her shoulder – that’s compassion.

    When we share both empathy and compassion with people, we feel a deeper human connection. And that’s great! Feeling connected to other people is essential to human happiness in every aspect of our lives. In fact, in our professional lives, it can:

    ·      Improve productivity and collaboration.

    ·      Foster employee engagement.

    ·      Cultivate positive and longer-lasting client relationships.

    ·      Increase profits.

    Yet traditionally we have been taught that emotions do not belong in the workplace! This is partially because of the long history of gender stereotyping – men don’t have emotions, after all, and it’s men who mainly work outside the home, right?  [insert eyeroll emoji here]

    Of course we know that statement is not true. While it does still affect us, though, I think there’s a bigger issue holding us back from embracing emotions, empathy, and compassion in professional contexts. Namely, it is so hard to know what to do with all those messy emotions! Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just ignore emotions sometimes?

    It might be easier, but it does not work – because ignoring emotions does not do anything with them. By definition, emotions are still there, influencing our behaviors and our thoughts.

    So what can you do with emotions at work?

    ·      Embrace them!

    o   If you feel comfortable with it in any given situation – and that will change in different situations – let the emotions flow. Use them to feel a deeper connection to the people with whom you work.

    ·      Be open to discussing them.

    o   If you see someone struggling with some emotion, ask them about it. Or you can try to name it – gently, asking if you’re right, no one likes to be told they should be feeling a certain way – but we all love the feeling of recognition when our emotions are understood by others.

    o   Also, you can simply state your own emotions as part of everyday professional conversations.

    ·      When needed, reframe the situation, or reschedule the conversation/tasks.

    o   This is a big one for the more difficult emotions that may come up because of things that happen outside of our professional lives. A break-up, a death, a difficult time with a loved one – the emotions connected to these events do not just disappear because we’re meeting a client or sitting in a cubicle.

    o   Reframe it:

    §  First, you need to make sure you understand what’s going on. So, ask questions, gently and with a true desire to understand – not to fix or correct.

    §  Second, reflect back what you’re hearing – this may include naming an emotion, or simply restating the words you just heard.

    §  Third, check-in. Ask if you’ve got it right! Sometimes we may repeat the very same words back to someone, and they may alter what they said. And if they don’t, then you have helped them feel heard and understood.

    §  Finally, you get to reframe – and I do not mean put a positive spin on it! Instead, reframing means you offer an alternate perspective. Suggest or ask how the other person causing these emotions might be feeling, or ask if they can think of an alternate path forward.

    §  Sometimes, reframing is not an option – the death of a loved one is one situation which comes to mind here. Simply acknowledging the loss and the deep emotions and sitting silently with the person grieving may be the best way to express compassion.

    o   Reschedule:

    §  One of the reasons we avoid emotions at work is that they can interrupt work. Yet, the best thing to do if work just truly cannot be accomplished that day is to take a break! Come back with more focus another time – in 20 minutes or an hour or the next day.

    All of these options take practice, in part because how you use them will change in nearly every situation.

    To learn more or schedule a group training, contact Chantilly Mediation and Facilitation today at or 703-951-6647. 

  • October 17, 2019 11:29 AM | Anonymous

    Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization
    October 17, 2019

    One of the key ingredients for success in life and school for most students is to develop good organizational skills. Naturally some are more organized than others. Anyone can help a child put routines together to become more organized. Here are some ideas that you can apply to your child’s daily life so that it stays under control and is more productive. They are also important life skills that your child can use throughout their life.

    1. Use a To-Do list. By having your child keep a list of assignments, chores around the home, reminders about items to bring to school, homework to do, etc…they will have a    sense of accomplishment as they cross off completed tasks.
    2. Designate a place to study. A quiet place with little distractions is where your child will most likely be productive. Be sure and have school materials and supplies close by. If your child is younger it would be good to have them close by so that you may monitor their progress.
    3. Designate a study time. Have a time every day that is reserved for homework and studying. Usually right after school is not the best time because your child will usually want a snack   and some time to unwind. Ask your child for their input when deciding on the time of study and then make it their routine.
    4. Homework Assignments need to be organized. Encourage your child to do the assignments in the order in which they are due. It’s best if they can start with one that is not to difficult and save the harder and longer assignment for last.
    5. Do a weekly clean-up. Each week you can encourage your child to sort their notebooks and backpacks. Important papers like tests can be stored in a separate file at home.
    6. Organize notebooks. Help your child keep better track of their papers by separating their notebooks with divider inserts that have pockets. Label each divider according to the subject. It is also a good idea to have a “to do” folder and a “done” folder to help organize and keep completed items or papers that need to be signed by parents as well as notices or worksheets.
    7. Have a master calendar. Having a large calendar for the whole household will help keep track of all the activities that need to be done and will help eliminate scheduling conflicts. Note the days that your children have tests or projects due. Also list extracurricular activities, school holiday’s, family commitments, and any other major family or school event.
    8. Household schedule. By establishing a regular homework time, dinnertime, and bedtime, your child will fall into a pattern at home. It’s important that they are well rested before going to school. Limit television and computer play to specific times as well.
    9. Offer support. While your child is learning how to develop organizational skills it would be helpful to photocopy schedules and checklists and hang them on the refrigerator. Be sure to gently remind your child to fill in the calendar dates and to keep their materials and papers organized. It’s also important to set a good example.
    10. Prepare for the next day. In order to help each morning run smoothly it’s helpful for your child to pack their schoolwork and books into their backpack before they go to bed. You could take this a step further and ask them to lay out their clothes, socks, accessories and shoes too. I sometimes ask my children what they would like to eat for breakfast the next day and have found that helps things go smoother as well. Be sure and ask them if they will be buying or taking a lunch to school so that you can prepare for that as well.

    Originally posted on Janet Schiesl's Website, Basic Organization

  • September 29, 2019 8:25 PM | Diane Greenhalgh

    Erin Barbot, Erin Barbot & Co.
    September 29, 2019

    I spend A LOT of time in my car, so it’s really important to me that I keep it clean, organized, and that I always have what I need. At any given moment I’m hauling client storage bins, children, donations, snacks, snacks, snacks, you name it. Over the last few years I’ve developed some habits and found some great products to help me keep my car as sane as possible.

    • Every Sunday I vacuum my car out and throw away any trash. I know you’re thinking that’s not feasible, but hear me out. This is far from a detailing job. I spend 10 minutes max with the dust buster and just get the floors, seats, and kids’ car seats. I still take it to the full-service car wash on a regular basis, where they do a much better job, but starting the week without goldfish, street salt, and grass everywhere can really help your headspace. You don’t have to wait for the magical time (which never happens) to get it “perfect” and professionally clean to make it more manageable on a weekly basis. Sometimes waiting for the A+ holds us back from at least having a B+!
    • We bring (almost) everything in everyday. Barring items that need to stay in the car because they live there, or client items I will be dropping off within the week, I bring in everything when we go inside for the day. We don’t leave toys, clothes, sippy cups, or coats until that “special time” (which never happens) when they will be brought back inside. We bring everything in every day.
    • Snacks stay in the car. I don’t want to have to remember to bring snacks; I prefer to just have them there all the time. My daughter knows that there are always crackers and trail mix in the car. I keep them in the center console so I can easily hand them to her. I keep this little cup in there as well so I don’t have to think to bring one in the car every time.
    • I use a back-of-the-seat organizer similar to this one to organize items we do like to have on hand and which belong permanently in the car. Right now that includes kids’ sunglasses, Wet Ones, back-up clothes, etc. Seasonally, it might also include bug spray and sunscreen for the summer months. We always want things like that on hand when we’re out and about in sunny weather, but they can freeze and become unusable if kept in the car during the winter.
    • I keep this little trash can in my door for small papers, banana peels, tissues, and the like. I empty it out about once a week.
    • This little organizer lives in one of my cup holders to keep my chapstick, a pen, some mints, and hand sanitizer.

    Again, my goal is to spend just a little extra time to make it a little more manageable and clean. It’s not about showroom perfection, it’s about making myself feel in control when I’m out and about, and keeping my family safe when I can focus on driving and not digging under my seat at a stoplight for whatever is rolling around on the floor!

    Happy Organizing!


    This post originally appeared in the Erin Barbot & Co. blog.

  • August 19, 2019 4:09 PM | Diane Greenhalgh

    Penny Bryant Catterall, Order Your Life, LLC
    ugust 19, 2019

    paperwork and memorabilia

    Do you have decades’ worth of paper clutter in your garage or home office? Are you ready to let go of it? Scanning and storing your papers as computer files will give you the security of knowing you can access them any time. And doing it all in one fell swoop – working several consecutive days rather than, say, one day a week over several weeks – makes it easier for a professional organizer like me to help you accomplish this efficiently and effectively.

    My busy week in LA tackling decades of a client’s paper clutter 

    A long-time DC area client recently asked me if I’d be willing to travel to LA to work with her 80-year-old mother (we’ll call her Barbara) to help go through decades of accumulated paper. She felt strongly that she didn’t want to burden her two daughters to deal with it all.  While she was ready to let go of most of the paper, she needed help in order to face it, both emotionally and physically. She also wanted to keep many of the documents so our plan was to scan them. I jumped at the chance. As almost all of my paper organizing jobs take place over many months, I was eager to see what I could accomplish in a week.

    Organizing our task

    In April, I flew out to LA to meet Barbara and work in her home. We scheduled six hours a day for five days in a row. She had 3 file cabinets full of paper, at least a dozen boxes with assorted photos, her mother’s writing, and travel memorabilia. I  was joined by a longtime friend of mine who lives in the LA area.  She worked with me as an assistant, doing the scanning as I helped Barbara make decisions about what to discard, what to keep, and how to organize it.

    To scan and digitize the documents she wanted to keep, we used the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500. This particular model can scan 50 pages double sided in under 2 minutes. For the job we were doing, it was an essential tool. Barbara had just purchased a new PC laptop, so we used Microsoft One Drive to create an organizational file system for each of her newly scanned documents. This made it possible for her to access the files on her phone, iPad and other devices. As Barbara and I decided how to handle each document, we put the papers in folders with file names. Each folder had a sticky note attached to it. We were careful to name each file in a way that would make sense to Barbara for her new digital filing system.

    In some cases, such as with property deeds, insurance policies, loan payoff statements and other vital documents, we kept the originals of the paper in well-labeled files. But in most cases, the paper versions were designated either for shredding or for the recycle bin. We sorted out the photos that were mixed in with other papers. Next we set the photos aside in a separate box to send to for digitizing. Prior to my arrival, Barbara had already sent them over 7,000 pictures and slides!

    Our accomplishments

    By the end of the week, we had completely emptied one four-drawer file cabinet. We had accumulated 3 50-gallon containers filled with paper to be recycled. We set aside several boxes for shredding. In the process, we also cleaned and organized her office shelves and desk drawers, found lots of old recyclable electronics and created a desktop file box for immediate access to her most urgent action items. Most importantly, Barbara learned the process of how to go through her files and decide how to best preserve each item. After I left, she had the confidence to tackle her travel memorabilia and other personal papers on her own.

    My takeaways

    1. You can get a lot more accomplished in five consecutive days than you can working one day a week for five weeks. It’s easy to pick up where you left off yesterday, but not so easy to remember what you did a week or a month ago.
    2. Having more time means you can see the bigger picture and work more efficiently. Three-hour appointments, although effective, significantly limit the scope of what can be accomplished over a longer period of time.
    3. You can greatly increase your efficiency with a helper. As my assistant did the scanning, I was free to help the client make the harder decisions about what to keep and scan, what to shred, and how to organize the paper and digital files.
    4. Using a dedicated document scanner will guarantee optimal preservation of all your important papers. I chose the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 because it helps overcome a huge stumbling block for people like Barbara who fear letting go of sentimental papers (such as her mother’s writing, her own journals, and other personal memorabilia).  Scanning the paper made it easier for Barbara, knowing that it would be scanned, named and organized in a way that she could easily find it.

    In a single week we were able to help Barbara clear decades of paper clutter. Now her files and important papers are at her fingertips where she can find them, and she is relieved of the worry of leaving it for her daughters to deal with. The paper clutter around you may be costing you more than you realize in calmness, time, money and productivity.  Are you ready to get it scanned and organized?

    Originally posted on the Order Your Life blog.

  • July 07, 2019 4:21 PM | Diane Greenhalgh

    Recently, a group of chapter members got together to help Jody Al-Saigh’s family. 

    The brief back story: Jody's brother, Alex, was an innocent bystander in a shooting in Washington, DC. He is now in a rehab facility. His girlfriend, Rebecca, moved their belongings to a place that would be better suited for Alex when he comes home in a wheelchair.

    Six organizers (and Amy Dobson’s boyfriend, Frank, not pictured) unpacked their new apartment. Pictured from left to right: Judy Tiger, C.Lee Cawley, Susan Unger, Amy Dobson, Silvia Balderas, Martha Blumenthal, and Rebecca (Alex’s girlfriend).

  • June 15, 2019 8:22 PM | Diane Greenhalgh

    We are pleased to announce the 2019 Chapter Awardees!

    Organizer of the Year
    For the chapter member who best promoted the organizing industry or chapter and made a difference in the community.

    Heather Cocozza, Cocozza Organizing & Design

    Business Partner of the Year
    For the business partner who best supported the industry and chapter members.

    Anna Novak, Anna Novak Real Estate RE/MAX West End

    Volunteer of the Year
    For the chapter member whose volunteer work had the most impact on the chapter.

    Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

    And the winner of the annual drawing for a free one-year chapter membership is... Julie Pandya of Home Strategies, LLC.

  • May 21, 2019 1:37 PM | Diane Greenhalgh

    Jessica Williams, Clutter Doctor
    May 21, 2019

    disorganized womanMany people are embarrassed and frustrated by their lack of organization. But did you know that being disorganized can actually cost you money? Here are 10 ways that you may be sabotaging your ability to hold on to your hard-earned cash:

    1. Lost Receipts.  Not being able to return a purchase because you can’t find the receipt means money down the drain.

    2. Uncashed Checks.  Rebates, tax returns, gifts and other uncashed checks that are buried in your clutter expire and often cannot be reclaimed.

    3. Late fees on bills and credit cards.  Bills lost in stacks of paperwork don’t get paid on time, resulting in extra fees and may negatively affect your credit score.

    4.  Multiple purchases.  A client and I once uncovered 8 calculators in her home. She could never find one when she needed it, so she kept buying more. Sound familiar?

    5. Storage space rental.  Letting go of items you don’t actually love or need and creating order in your home will free up the money you are currently spending on self-storage units.

    6. Tax-time headaches.   Missing the documentation necessary to file your taxes can result in being unable to legally claim all the deductions you are entitled to, or even result in penalties if you file your return late.

    7. Grocery bills.  Failing to plan out meals and keep food staples on hand results in too many impulsive trips to the grocery store or eating out more often than your budget can really handle.

    8. More clutter = less income.   A disorganized work environment means you are wasting time searching for items when you could be focusing on productive activity that helps you make money instead.

    9. Missed appointment charges.   If you misplace your medical appointment reminder and don’t show up at the doctor’s office, you can rack up expensive “no-show” fees.

    10. Mental health.  The anxiety of being disorganized can take an emotional toll on you and those who care about you. Your mental health is priceless!

    In short, being disorganized means lost time. And, we all know that time equals money. Think you can’t afford to hire a professional organizer? I would argue that you can’t afford not to!

    Originally posted on the Clutter Doctor blog.

  • April 10, 2019 10:53 AM | Diane Greenhalgh

    Janet Schiesl, CPO®, Basic Organization
    April 10, 2019


    When you need to concentrate, distractions can be bad – challenging at the least – the phone, the kids, the TV. But studies have shown that music can help you focus. For me, it creates a mood, a little cocoon in which I can focus on what I am doing. I don’t really think about what’s playing. It background, but it keeps me there, in the moment.

    Try it. Create a play list on PandoraSpotify, or iTunes. Listen to your favorite local radio station from the Internet (or the radio) or web sites like Get out your collection of CDs and relive old times.

    Try different types of music. See how classical, new age or blues can change the environment and your level of focus. Mid-afternoon slump – need to find some energy? Try turning up the volume, getting up and singing a few tunes! Find what works best for you.

    Originally posted on the Basic Blog.

  • March 21, 2019 7:57 PM | Diane Greenhalgh

    by Cris Sgrott, CPO®, CPO-CD®, Organizing Maniacs®, LLC
    March 21, 2019

    Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport is for everyone looking for Attention Management, not Time Management tools.

    “Simply put, humans are not wired to be constantly wired.” – Cal Newport

    In Digital Minimalism, Newport helps us learn to live in a world with constant distraction. Most of us are addicted to our screens, but research shows that if you spent a large portion of your day in fragmented focus, it will eventually permanently reduce your ability to concentrate for prolonged periods of time.

    Are you a Digital Minimalist or a Maximalist?

    • How many Apps do you have on your phone?
    • How many Apps do you use daily?
    • Can you have lunch with a friend or loved one without looking at your phone?
    • What do you feel when your phone is not near you?
    • What is the longest you can go without checking your notifications?
    • Which App do you spend most of your time on, and how important is that App to your real life?

    Most people, adults and teens alike, are experiencing higher levels of anxiety because we’re never getting enough downtime.

    Maniacs' Book Club Digital Minimalism by Cal NewportManiac Takeaway

    Find a small amount of time everyday to just let my brain rest and wonder without consuming any new information.

    • Become more intentional about what you do with your time. Make plans in advance
    • Fix or build something every week. Do the project all the way to the end
    • Join something new – a club, a group, a volunteer organization

    Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport is available on Amazon.

    Download our full report

    This post originally appeared on the Organizing Maniacs blog.

NAPO - Washington DC Metro Chapter |  PO Box 7301, Arlington, VA 22207  |  |  (301) 818-1501

© National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals Washington DC Metro Chapter. All rights reserved.

NAPO-WDC 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.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software