What’s New in the Organizing Industry?

March 26th, 2012

The NAPO logo

Last week, I attended the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Annual Conference.  Over 850 organizers gathered at the Hilton Baltimore in Baltimore Maryland.  There was an Expo Hall with over 58 exhibitors, 3 key note speakers, 30 break out session options.  It was a very busy four days.  In addition to sharing my feelings on Twitter as @PutItAway, I also Tweeted the conference as @NAPONatl. As always, conference was an amazing experience.  I was able to learn, network, hang with old friends, make new friends, meet friends who I knew only from social media, be inspired and inspire others.

Over the next few days, I will share my experiences from the 2012 NAPO Conference.  I will share tips from the sessions I attended, reviews of products exhibited, lessons learned from others and pictures of some of the fun.

Great conference tote bag from tote bag sponsor Tote Buddy!

If you attended conference, I would love to hear about your experiences.  What was your one take away from conference or your favorite thing?  Please comment below.

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Falling back is more than just changing your clocks.

October 30th, 2009

So tomorrow is the big day!  Your likely thinking Halloween, I am thinking time to change your clocks back to standard time.

The time change itself means very little to me.  I find it’s only real significance is the darkness may enable me to sleep a little later.  It is the physical act of actually changing the clock that reminds me of the other things I should do at the same time.  Below I’ve listed activities I do in conjunction of changing back my clocks.

  • Check and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. Using a Sharpie, I write the month and the year I am installing the battery on the battery.  If I accidentally miss changing one, I can easily pop or slide open the door and check the date I last installed.  My smoke detectors are hard wired.  I very rarely lose power so the battery gets little use so I only change their batteries in the Fall.  If your smoke detectors run only battery only, you may want to change them in both the Spring and Fall.
  • Check and replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide (CO2) detectors. This is a must for the Fall.  CO2 detectors are almost always connected to an outlet, the battery is used as a back-up power source.  Most CO2 detectors use a 9V battery as a back up.  I believe changing this battery in the Fall is a must because Winter seems to be the time of year when CO2 is more likely to build in your home.  CO2 is often considered a silent killer as it is odorless.  (If you don’t have a CO2 detector in your home, get one now.  They run from $19 – $50).
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit for your house (water, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets). September was Disaster Preparedness Month.  If you missed putting together your supply kit last month, now if the perfect time.  If you’ve created a home disaster kit in the past, use the semi-annual time change to check its contents (including testing/replacing flashlight batteries).
  • Check home and outdoor storage areas for hazardous materials. Before it gets too cold out, discard (check with your local city or county for proper disposal) any which are outdated, no longer used, or in poor condition.
  • Check and discard expired medications – both prescription and over the counter.  The expiration dates really DO have meaning.  Many medications start to lose their effectiveness and may breakdown after their expiration date.
  • This is the perfect time to check all of the batteries and replace burned out light bulbs in your home. Have you ever come home to your alarm clock flashing following a power outage?  This weekend, grab a battery, write 11/09 on it and install it in your alarm clock.  Do the same for anything with a back-up timer such as thermostats, phones, and other electronics.  Also, check for burnt out bulbs and replace those too.  Compact fluorescent light (CFLs) bulbs are made for all wattage and sizes now a days.  CFLs conserve energy and last much longer.  (The two in my basement will be 16  years old this December).

Remember batteries, medications, paints, compact fluorescent light (CFLs), and chemicals are considered hazardous waste.  Please check the website for your city or county for proper disposal.

I hope these tips help keep you safe and prepared.  Do you have any tips to add?  Please comment below.

Happy Halloween!

Kim signature small angle

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Need a contractor? Where to start?

September 11th, 2009

How many of you have relied on AAA (formerly known as the American Automobile Association)?  AAA has become synonymous with the name of the company who bails you out if your car conks out or you get a flat.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Toll Booth
Image by jimmywayne via Flickr

As a child I remember my mom’s old Pontiac overheating while we waited at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll plaza.  Somehow (pre cellphone days), we managed to contact AAA. I was terrified, the 3 BIG A’s were going to come.

Nooooooo!  Not the 3 BIG A’s.  While this was a service who was going to help, as a child I pictured 3 BIG A’s.  We were going to get attacked by the alphabet!!!  Needless to say, AAA sent a service individual to come help us and we were sent on our way. As an adult AAA customer, I learned that AAA does not always have it’s own service trucks. Honestly, I don’t know if they have any of their own trucks anymore. Their service and reputation is handled by contractors who they screen to represent them. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had one stop shopping for all things that cause hiccups in our lives? Boy, wouldn’t that simplify your life?

I recently learned friends had launched a AAA-like home repair service called HOCOA – Home Owners Club of America. Like AAA offers pre-screened automobile repair contractors to their members, HOCOA offers pre-screened home repair/maintenance contractors to their members. You make one phone call to HOCOA. They document your problem and set you up with the contractor who can repair your problem. Members pay a minimal fee to have access to their pre-screened contractors saving members time and aggravation.  While there are other home repair companies who sell memberships, there are some definite differences.

I have invited my friends Michelle and Andy Katon, owners of HOCOA Metro DC to guest post about how a home repair network can simplify your life.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could simplify your life when it comes to home repair.  We discovered a home repair network that can do that, HOCOA. We were so impressed, that we choose to purchase a franchise in the Washington, DC Metro area so we could share this benefit with Washingtonians. Here is how it started….

We noticed an odor in the kitchen.  We did not realize that our dishwasher had broke mid-cycle.  The following day, Sunday we discovered the odor was from the dishwasher.  Once we noticed it was a broken dishwasher causing the odor, we did not know who to call.  We did what most people would do: opened the Yellow Pages, and started making calls, more calls and even more calls.  After 11 calls and a lot of frustration, we knew there must be a better way. We did finally get our dishwasher fixed but decided that it was time to find a universal solution to the household headache of home repair.  After a lot of research, we found a home repair network called HOCOA.  HOCOA had a proven track record of making the process of finding a contractor/service provider easier.  Further investigation showed that all HOCOA contractors are licensed, bonded/insured and pre-screened.  Best of all, they do all of the  leg work for you.

Upon moving to the DC area, we discovered there was no HOCOA location in the area.  In an area like DC where people are always on the go, we knew that there was a need for HOCOA.  Most Washingtonians don’t have the time to make all the calls and screen contractors before hiring them.  Yes, you may have your favorite plumber or electrician but who do you call when the roof leaks, the attic fan dies, or you discover mold in the basement.

So we brought the HOCOA Home Repair Network to DC!  Below are success stories from your DC neighbors.

Image via Wikipedia

A family in Rockville was in the middle of a renovation project. They ran into problems with their contractor, who could not finish the job. What should they do? A friend suggested they call HOCOA. Within an hour, we figured out what type of contractors they needed.  By the next morning, they were back in business and work reconvened using HOCOA contractors. HOCOA was not only able to save them the time and energy of re-interviewing contractors after previously being burned, but the project became stress free because of HOCOA.

Another family had a light that was going in and out. They called an electrician on their own. He came, fixed the light and did what appeared to be a good job. A week later, the light was giving them the same problem. They called the electrician again, and again, and again. They never received a return call. So much time was spent trying to resolve this issue. The problem was that their electrician had already done the job and had been paid. They were no longer on his “priority” list.

Through HOCOA, the contractors are held “accountable” because of the way jobs are dispatched. Since the contractors want referrals, they respond almost immediately when called by a HOCOA representative. If the family had called HOCOA for this project, ONE call would have taken care of this problem with NO frustration.

Joining HOCOA is the way to save time and energy and be able to simplify your life when it comes to home repair.  The value of piece of mind is so much greater than the small yearly HOCOA membership fee.   In addition to the home repair contractors participating with HOCOA, your membership also gives you access to additional resources at wholesale prices.

If you know of anyone moving to the DC area, a HOCOA membership is an incredible gift.  Know a good reliable contractor you feel would benefit from being part of the HOCOA Metro DC network, please pass our information along.  Feel free to give us a call or send us an email with any questions.  We look forward to helping you simplify your life.

Michelle and Andy Katon
Owners, HOCOA Metro DC


Michelle and Andy are extending all Need Another You readers a 15% discount on any HOCOA Metro DC membership.  Use code ORGANIZE when purchasing your membership.   Need to simplify your life?   Be prepared, contact Michelle and Andy today.

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Organize your exercise

August 27th, 2009

So we all know that exercise and proper diet can contribute to better physical fitness.  Right?  If you were not already aware, exercise can also contribute to better mental health.  Exercise and stress management have a close link.  According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, exercise relieves stress by decreasing cortisol (stress hormones) and increasing endorphins (runner’s high). Note: chocolate also helps the body produce endorphins but does not have the same effect on cortisol. Unfortunately chocolate does not produce the full desired effect. Sorry. Many regular exercisers claim they feel mentally fatigued when the miss workouts.  Regular exercise has been shown to increase self-confidence  and energy while  lowering the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

I believe we all will agree that we are not as energetic nor can we think as clearly when we are suffering a bout of anxiety or depression.  Here in lies the vicious cycle.  We make excuses “I don’t have the energy to workout”, “I don’t have the people walkingtime to workout” or “I don’t have the money to join a gym.”  So how do you break the cycle, when will you finally understand what someone means by runner’s high?  Below are some suggestions how to make time to exercise and how to get started.  I will preface, like anything else it takes 2 weeks to create (or break) a habit so don’t expect miracles overnight.

  1. Schedule time in your calendar.  No actually write or type it in your calendar.  What, you don’t have a calendar?  Organizing 101 – get a calendar (paper or electronic) and use it.  Take it with you everywhere and write down all of your commitments.We all have the same 24 hours in our day.  What is different is how we choose to use those 24 hours.  No one says you have to exercise for 1 hour or more.  Try getting up 30 minutes earlier or after dinner grab the family and go for a walk.  It’s something, something more than you did the day before.
  2. Find an exercise buddy.  If you have no friends or family members available to join you, check out sites like http://exercisefriends.com, http://fitlink.com or http://readytosweat.com.  These sites have you complete a profile then match you with a compatible exercise buddy.  Be completely honest when filling out the profile, highlight your strengths and weaknesses.  Not your style?  Try putting the leash on the dog and head out. Remember if they are not conditioned for long walks, they need to work up to it too. See if your local place of worship has a physical or virtual bulletin board where you can post that your are looking for an exercise partner.  Also, check to see if your local shopping mall has an organized mall walking group.  Many times this is organized by the mall or a local hospital.  Often they will have a particular day a month that they offer blood pressure checks and provide health education.  The benefits of an exercise buddy/mall walking group include accountability, companionship and security.  The mall also protects you from the elements. If you know someone is counting on you or will be waiting for you to show, you are more likely to drag yourself to meet them.  Time passes faster when you have a companion.  This goes for most anything in life.   Like anything else, there is safety in numbers.  I suggest meeting your exercise buddy at a public place the first time.  If you get an uncomfortable feeling, don’t leave.    Always carry ID, your cell phone and the name and number of an emergency contact.  You never know if you will need this.  An undesirable person is less likely to approach a group exercising than an individual.  The cell phone is also useful if you get caught in an unexpected storm.
  3. Check out sites by http://mapmyfitness.com like http://mapmywalk.com, http://mapmyrun.com, http://mapmyride.com.  They provide tools for you to measure walking/running or biking routes.  They also sharing tools so you can see routes other users have created.  The site tells you the distance and have a rating system for users to rate a route.  You can add stops to the route.   You can email the route to friends to see if anyone is interested in meeting you along the route or post to your friends via Facebook.  I email the route to myself so I can pick it up on my phone.   I also leave the route up on my computer screen.  If for any reason, I do not make it home, there is a map of my intended location.  Another benefit built-in to these site is the My Training Log.  It allows you to track your distance, # of calorie burned, your weight change, average # of hours of sleep and your average morale.  These sites allow you to mix up your route by location, elevation and distance adding variety to your workout and preventing boredom.

So now you have some basic tools to help you start an organized workout plan.  Hopefully you will be able to draw from one or two of these tips and create time for exercise in your day.  If you stick with it, you will notice that your are able to think more clearly, sleep better and have more energy to focus on the important things in your life.

P.S.  Did I mention, all of the basic services of sites I listed are free?  No excuses.  Get to it!  Good luck!

Kim Oser, Certified Professional Organizer ®

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Need Inspiration?

May 13th, 2009

If you want to get somewhere you have to know where you want to go and how to get there. Then never, never, never give up.”  Norman Vincent Peale

Want to organize your life? Organize your space? Remember appointments and be on time? Find things when you are looking for them? Improve your credit rating and lower interest rates by paying your bills on time? Find the dining room/kitchen table and the tools to prepare and serve a meal on the table?

The first step is envisioning your life or your space in your best case scenario. Then set goals to help you get there. It may be getting up one-half hour earlier or cleaning out one shelf or drawer at a time or it may be hiring a professional to help you through the process. If plan A does not work, go with plan B. Look at road blocks as challenges and opportunities. You may find your initial plan was not the optimal plan. The process of setting your goals and following through to get there will help you achieve self-satisfaction and a more rewarding life.


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It's here! My eBook 50 Ways to Use Technology to Increase Productivity & Profitability is here! Don't let the name fool you. It actually contains over 80 resources. Check the special pricing for Need Another You readers.

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