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NAPO Conference 2013 – Cool Organizing Products

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I’m back from the NAPO Conference!

Look how the 600+ of us were welcomed when we landed in New Orleans. I thought that was pretty cool–it was right next to the Arrivals and Departures sign.

Landed around 6pm and by the time I got to the Sheraton New Orleans, I was hungry. Hubby and I are members of the Starwood Preferred Guest program so I was able to use points to cover the cost of my room and upgrade me to the Club Floor. On the Club Floor is the Club Lounge. In the Club Lounge there is food–breakfast in the morning and hors d’oeuvres in the evening. The night I landed, alligator meatballs and frog legs were on the menu. I had my doubts but ate them anyway. YUM!
Now I can say I’ve eaten alligator–can you?

Three days of workshops, panels and lunches kept me very busy. But, year after year one of the most exciting parts of the NAPO Conference is the EXPO. The EXPO is a place for companies that specialize in organizing products and services to ‘share their wares’ with the Professional Organizer community. 
Since I traveled with one carry-on bag and a purse, I tried my best to not grab every product sample and brochure available to me. Instead, I took pictures of some of the ‘cool products’ to remind me to look for them in stores and so I could share them with you.
Up first, some cool containers from Rubbermaid
Dishwasher safe, BPA free, stackable, see-throught lids–perfect for pantries.
Premium Modular Canisters by Rubbermaid
ClosetMaid had a great booth at the EXPO. I learned a lot about their product and shot a quick tip video for them about hangers. Thought this floor organizer was an interesting option for getting shoes and the like off of closet floors…
Floor Organizer by ClosetMaid
SMEAD had a few ‘cool’ products this year. First, these file folders have tabs that are erasable! Use a Sharpie to write on the extra large tab. Made a mistake? Want to change the name of the file? No problem and no need for a new manila folder!
SMEAD Erasable SuperTab File Folders
Next is the ColorVue Expanding File with SuperTabs–colorful and easy to use! Perfect for color coding. I put my hand in the middle of the ‘V’ shape and it was very easy to retrieve papers from the pockets.
ColorVue Expanding File with SuperTab by SMEAD

‘Tree Free’–I love that name. Whoever thought of it should get a raise, in my opinion. They are made from sugar cane waste fiber. I have no idea what that is but it saves trees so it’s OK by me. Super Tabs–another great idea especially for those who have ‘large’ handwriting or a lot to say on the tab of a folder. 

SuperTab Oversized Tab File Folders by SMEAD
Jill Yesko, of Discover Organizing Inc. had a great idea. Besides being a Professional Organizer, she is the owner of Clearly Noted, a company that offers greeting cards to Professional Organizers and their clients. These cards, ‘encourage, motivate, and congratulate your organizing client.’
Her cards are brightly colored, whimsical and offer a bit of bling, too. The part I liked best was that a Professional Organizer has the option of placing a sentence on the inside of the card giving permission to the client to recycle the lovely card at the end of the week. We don’t want to make more clutter for our clients!
Kudos to Jill for creating a product that Professional Organizers can use to express their gratitude!
Greeting cards by Clearly Noted
You paint a room in your home. You either label your paint can with a Sharpie, or your label maker. OK–maybe you don’t label your paint cans in the hopes you’ll remember where you used that color and the year you used it. The people at What’s That Paint have made the labeling process a snap with their fill-in-the-blank paint can labels. Despite their simplicity, everyone was ooohing and aaahhhing over them. They also used a paint tray instead of a box to collect business cards for a raffle–loved that creativity! 
What’s That Paint fill-in-the-blank paint can labels
This is just a smattering of the products I saw at this year’s NAPO Conference EXPO. Absent this year was 3M/Post-it. Good thing I hadn’t used up my samples from last year. The people from Brother were also missing–they make amazing label maker products. Maybe they’ll be back for next year’s conference in Phoenix. The bigger question is–will I be there? If so, I promise to report back on some new and exciting products.
Which of these products would help you get more organized?

Cool Product: Pocket (formerly Read It Later)

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I should have titled this post,

‘Confessions of a Professional Organizer and Former Hoarder’

Whoa! A Professional Organizer who is also a hoarder? Whaaaaat?

OK–I wasn’t really a true hoarder in the physical sense–but it makes for a great title, doesn’t it?

I didn’t hoard animals or newspapers or magazines.

I hoarded tabs.

Tabs?

If you own a Mac and use Safari to browse the web, you’re familiar with ‘Tabs.’ They enable you to open several web pages at once and you can easily switch back and forth between them.

The arrow is pointing to the ‘Tabs’ in Safari.

I am an information hound. As a small business owner and mom, I am always interested in reading articles that could help my business grow and my family flourish. The only thing I was missing was: TIME.

I had a five year old and a one year old and very little time to read, let alone process the information I was reading. So, if I didn’t have time to read a long article, or I was thinking of ordering a product from a web page, or thought I might need certain information someday, I would leave the tab open in Safari. At times, I had 7-10 windows open with 8-10 tabs open in each. Turns out, my tab hoarding was not a very good system. Oh, and I never shut down my computer because that would mean I’d lose all my tabs. Can you tell where this story is heading?

I started getting unusual error messages on my computer. Then one day about a month before my Apple Care Protection Plan expired for my Mac, my computer said, “I’ve had it with all your open tabs!” and crashed.

I made an appointment at the Apple Store and when my Genius Dude heard my story, he told me that in all his years working at the Genius Bar, he had never heard of anyone keeping so many tabs open at once. I was overworking my computer and my tab hoarding tendencies had to change.

Adrian, my Genius Dude, brought my computer back from the dead. I was so grateful for his patience and expertise that I vowed to not return to my tab hoarding ways. I started bookmarking websites I wanted to refer to again. A few weeks later, the App Gods looked down upon me–sleep-deprived, time-starved, information overloaded me and arranged for a productivity app by the name of Pocket (formerly Read It Later) to be placed in an article I was moments away from reading.

I read the article. I checked out Pocket. I couldn’t believe that an app could be such a perfect match for my needs.

What is Pocket and how could it be so life-changing?

According to its website, Pocket (formerly Read It Later) was founded in 2007 by Nate Weiner to help people who discover an interesting article, video or web page, but don’t have time to view it. Once saved to Pocket, the list of content is visible on any device — phone, tablet or computer. It can be viewed while waiting in line, on the couch or during commutes or travel — even offline.”

When I first read about Pocket, I thought, “Holy moly–this app was MADE for ME! I’m always discovering interesting items on the web but I rarely have time to view them.”

I went to the Pocket website, installed the Pocket bookmarklet into my ‘Bookmarks Bar’ and immediately began putting articles in my ‘pocket.’ Now, when I come across an article I want to save and read at a later time, all I do is click on the bookmarklet.  A sign then appears at the top of the web page that says ‘Pocket – Page Saved!.’ I can read my saved articles on my iPhone as well as on my laptop. Happiness abounds.

 Some facts about Pocket:
– The list of articles you accumulate is called a ‘queue.’
– You can view your queue in list form or as a grid with large visuals.
– When you select the article you want to read from your queue, it offers you a stripped-down version of it without ads/visuals as well as a link to the original web page.
– You can type a word in the ‘Search’ box to look for articles you’ve saved on a specific topic
– You can assign Pocket your email address and email a link to Pocket, too!

Best of all–it doesn’t cost a dime!

How has Pocket changed my life?
– My computer has had no problems since it’s major crash in April of 2012.
– I know that if I don’t have time to read an article, it will be ‘in my pocket’ for future retrieval.
– I can retrieve that article/recipe/video over and over again.
– I store often-used recipes in Pocket. When cooking, I bring them up on my laptop which lives on my kitchen counter.
– Pocket is a repository for all the articles I may need in the future on how to grow my business. I know they will be there when I am ready for them.
-Pocket allows me to read, learn and grow on my own time.

Pocket currently has over 4.5 million registered users and is available for major devices and platforms including iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire and Android.

Want to be the 4.6 millionth user? How would Pocket make your life easier?

Cool Product – 3.5″ Hanging File Folder Tabs

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You’ve decided to organize your files–that’s great! I’m so proud of you.

You purchased hanging folders for this project, right? Good. You’re on your way!

Open the box of hanging folders. Somewhere in the box is a plastic baggie filled with plastic tabs and paper inserts.

Take a close look at the tabs. They’re small–only 2″ across. You can’t write much on them. I’m going to tell you right now–they’re going to frustrate you to no end as you attempt to use them for your filing project.

I’d like you to consider NOT using them.

I know you paid for them. But, I’m going to ask you to spend a little more money on your files.

The ‘Cool Product’ that will make it easier for you to locate, retrieve and store your papers is…

The 3.5″ Hanging File Poly Tab

Photo: SMEAD

What are the benefits to using 3.5″ tabs?

– they have more room to write on
– larger tabs means you can write larger on them or create labels with large letters for easy readbility
– find files more quickly with a larger tab

Whenever I work with a client on getting their papers organized/setting up a file system, I always recommend they use 3.5″ tabs. I pull a pack of these out of my ‘magic’ bag of organizing supplies, and people are amazed–most have never seen the 3.5″ tabs. They only know about the 2″ tabs that come in the box of file folders. Happiness abounds. Joyful categorizing and labeling begins. Another client’s life made easier with a Cool Product…

Thinking of switching to 3.5″ tabs?

Cool Product – Fridge Binz Part 2

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A year and a half ago, I discovered a product that revolutionized my sandwich-making abilities. No, I didn’t hire a chef–I bought a Fridge Bin for my refrigerator.

My food, especially my bread products, was getting lost, smushed and squashed. While strolling through the aisles of The Container Store one day (Yes, that’s where Professional Organizers stroll…) I happened upon the Fridge Bin. I thought the concept was great–but would it function well in my fridge?

If you read my first Fridge Binz post you know that it was a success. And, I’m happy to report that almost a year and a half later, it still holds my bread products and saves them from being mutilated on a daily basis.

That’s some of my bread products safely nestled in the Fridge Bin…

I was so happy with how it functioned in my refrigerator, I bought another one! This one wasn’t for keeping my bread organized–it was for baby food. Those dang jars and little containers are very good at hiding! And when they hide, the food inside of them goes bad. Can’t feed that to a baby…

I had tried organizing my youngest son’s food on the top right shelf of our refrigerator but somehow, it would all migrate across the shelf, and start hiding behind and mingling with other foods–not to be seen for days.

Back to The Container Store I went and here’s what I came home with…

It’s deeper and more narrow than my first purchase. It’s perfect for corralling my little guy’s food items and it’s BPA free, too.

It lives on the right side of the top shelf of my refrigerator–the spot where I had begun my organizing process. It’s a place for me to throw my son’s little containers, baggies of leftovers or anything I’m defrosting for him. No more lost toddler food which means the Fridge Bin is saving me money and time. I like that!

Another Fridge Bin success story!

Top Ten Helper Shelf ‘Hot Spots’ for Your Home

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A while back, I wrote an article for my website about my favorite organizing products. Years have passed but my favorites have not changed. One of those favorite organizing products is the Helper Shelf.

What is a ‘helper shelf?’

A helper shelf divides the horizontal space of a shelf, offering more storage space above and below itself. They come in many different widths and heights—some are even width-adjustable. Looking for one to match your decor? You’ll find most are made of chrome, plastic, metal or wood. Helper shelves can be found in the same aisle as other kitchen organizing products and purchased at home stores like Target or in specialty stores such as The Container Store. They can be used anywhere you need to double a shelf space.

I recently counted how many helper shelves I was using in my home–about 15! And I have a few in my basement that are waiting to be used when the need arises.

Do you have places in your home that could use a helper shelf? If so, get ready to get organized. Here are my top ten helper shelf ‘hot-spots’ for your home:

1. Linen closet – Besides sheets and towels, linen closets often house medicine, health and beauty supplies, lightbulbs and other small items. This is a picture of the shelf in my linen closet where I keep health items for my two kids. Notice–lots of little packages. A perfect spot for a helper shelf!

2. Medicine cabinet – If there’s a spot in our homes with small bottles and boxes, it’s a medicine cabinet. Most standard-sized helper shelves don’t fit in a medicine cabinet but while shopping at the Christmas Tree Shop a few months ago, I came across one that was made especially to fit in medicine cabinets. I bought it for a whopping $1.99. Turns out I didn’t need a helper shelf in my medicine cabinet so I now use it on my…

3. Kitchen counter – I have a small kitchen and need certain items handy. Thought the ‘medicine cabinet’ helper shelf would work well to organize items near my stovetop. This is a picture of the small helper shelf in action–shorter items below and taller items on top. It’s been working very well for me!

4. Kitchen cabinet – This is where many people use helper shelves. My kitchen does not have much cabinet space so I had to maximize the space as best I could.

Between these two cabinets, I have five helper shelves. They came in extra handy when I had kids and had to make room for their kiddie plates, bowls and cups.

5. Freezer – I have one of those older refrigerators with the freezer on top. I use a helper shelf to double the space that might otherwise be a pileup of bagels, frozen veggies and leftovers. Small items such as the ice cube trays fit well under the shelf while flat items stack well on top.

6. Pantry – Sometimes we can adjust our pantry shelves and sometimes we can’t. If you have tall pantry shelves that can’t be adjusted, a helper shelf will create more space. Double the space means double the room for food storage! Here, small food items such as jello and pudding boxes fit well underneath and larger boxes stack equally as well on top.

7. Playroom – Kids have big toys and small toys and as a parent, I know that not all shelves accommodate all sizes of toys. Place a helper shelf on a tall shelf to store puzzles or board games on top and create a home for small toys like cars or a basket of Beanie Babies underneath.

8. Home Office – Use a helper shelf in a closet or storage piece to neatly stack and store office supplies. This will make it much easier to find and retrieve the supplies you need.

9. Laundry room – Like the playroom, a laundry room also has large items and small items that both need an organized home. Purchase a heavy-duty helper shelf for detergent storage and place small items such as dryer sheets and a receptacle for lonely socks below.

10. Over/Under Kitchen Sink – I had one of these when I lived in an apartment years ago. It was a great way to make more room for me in my already tiny kitchen. I put my sponge underneath the shelf and kept dishwashing soap and a few decorative items on top.

What are YOUR helper shelf ‘hot spots?’

SMEAD – ‘My Organizer’ Products

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While at the NAPO Conference in Baltimore this past Spring, I got to meet a lovely representative from SMEAD at our Product EXPO. She and I chatted about office products, ‘liked’ each other on Facebook and a few months later, she asked me if I would want to review SMEAD products on my blog.

What organizer can say no to checking out new organizing products?

A few weeks later, I received the MO File System.  MO stands for ‘My Organizer.’ There are three parts to the MO File system: a folder kit, a file case and a case wrap. Here’s a video with all the details:

I received three pieces: the File Case, the Case Wrap, and the Financial Kit. They come in different colors but I got the green pattered one which coincidentally fits in with the decor of my home office.

Besides the Financial Kit, the other kits sold are the MO Medical Kit, the MO Project Kit and the MO Starter Kit. According to the SMEAD website,

“MO file kits provide all the help you need to get organized. Each kit contains 9 letter size SuperTab folders, one label sheet with pre-printed and/or blank labels and a detailed instruction sheet.” 

The My Organizer system can be found at most office supply stores and on Amazon.com.

Why consider the My Organizer File system for your paper organizing needs?

– It fits easily into a letter-sized file drawer
– It is easily transportable
– It’s a great way to organize papers for a particular project or aspect of your life

I haven’t started using it yet but here’s what I like about My Organizer File system so far…

– It’s compact
– The File Case slides out of both sides of the Case Wrap
– The Super Tabs on the file folders are huge! Plenty of space for writing file descriptions.

I have a lot of business and family-related papers that always need action or are pending so I’m going to explore the features of he My Organizer File system and give it a try on my desk. I’ll keep you posted!

Cool Product – Random Crap Tin Cigar Box

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Organizers are always talking about containers–clear containers, odd-shaped containers, heavy-duty containers. For instance, I always recommend Rubbermaid containers to my client–they’re tough and I’ve found that the lids always snap well to the bottoms. I have my preferences for shoe, paper, and food storage, too.

But what about the sentimental items in our lives? Ticket stubs, “Make Love, Not War’ buttons, a mix tape from your teenage years and the like need a place to live. The container doesn’t have to be fancy–it just has to keep your beloved items safe and all together in one spot.

Have you ever checked out the website, SpoonSisters.com? They offer unique items at different price points–at least half of them will make you chuckle when you see them.

I was looking for a cute baby gift when I stumbled upon this item. I thought it would be perfect for people who are decluttering but wish to keep some sentimental items. And yes, when I saw it, it made me chuckle. The title says it best…

Random Crap Tin Cigar Box $15.95



It measures 7 1/4″ long x 5 1/2″ deep x 3 1/2″ high. Here’s a view of the inside:



It’s cute. It’s kitchy. And I thought it was pretty cool. Those three adjectives make this Random Crap Box a winner in my book!

What container are you currently using to hold sentimental items?

Blog Carnival – Product Reviews

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This past month was the first time in almost three years that I took a break from social media. No blog posts for a month and only one or two Facebook shares. No original content was created for anyone in the month of June. Instead, I focused on family events and took a trip with my hubby and kids. My head is more clear now and I’m ready to blog again!

Before I started my social media ‘break’, I submitted a post to the ‘Your Organizing Business’ Blog Carnival. The last one I participated in was about helping families get organized. This one focused on Product Reviews of Organizing Products.

The product review I submitted was about the wonders of cable turtles. Our homes and offices would be a web of wires if not for this great product!

If you’re wondering what organizing products might work for you in your home or office, this is the place to check them out. Twenty three professional organizers have road-tested these products for you. I’m still only halfway through the list!

When you find a product from the list you think might help organize your space or time, let me know about it. I’d love to hear about your newest discovery! Meanwhile, I’ll be trolling the list looking for some cool products to try…

Best Products for Organizing Your Car

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Long commute?
Live far from your family?
Got kids?

Then you probably spend a lot of time in your car.

Our cars are like a home-away-from-home. Sometimes we eat in our car. Sometimes we sleep in our car. We have TV screens and stereos and storage spaces in our cars. Yup–sounds like home to me…

So, if it’s important to keep our homes organized, it is equally important to keep our home-away-from-home organized, too.

I drive a big SUV and if I didn’t organize it, it would resemble a dumping ground on wheels. I have to organize my belongings, stuff for my kids, supplies for my business and supplies for the car just like I would organize any space in my home. When you’re ‘on-the-go’ you have to be able to find what you need quickly.

Your first step towards an organized car is to sort and purge the items currently living in it. Once you know what is staying you’ll need a few organizing products to help you keep your home-away-from- home neat and tidy and of course–organized.

Here are a few products I use in my own car and a few that might be useful in special situations:

Trash receptacle – If you don’t want your car looking like the city dump. I highly recommend purchasing a trash receptacle for your car. This is the one I have by Case Logic and it works well for me. Unfortunately, it’s so old, the company doesn’t make it anymore:

I keep it thrown over my gear stick and hanging into the passenger side. It’s easy to stuff the garbage into the top and the velcro bottom opens easily to release the trash. I own this in tan to match my old car’s interior but when it has seen better days (the time is coming soon!), I’m getting one like this:

Auto Trash Bag by The Mod Mobile

There are so many fun, colorful and cool designs, I’m not sure which I would pick! Check all of them out on Allyson Hill’s The Mod Mobile Etsy site.

Visor CD Organizer – Downloading songs to my iPhone is on my long list of ‘Things I’d Like to Do Someday.’ So in the meantime, I’ve purchased a CD organizer for my visor–also from CaseLogic. My music, kiddie music–it’s all stored neatly and at arm’s reach.

Collapsible Crate – I got mine at a discount home store a bunch of years ago but you can find them at some office supply stores and The Container Store.

Photo Courtesy of Office Max

This is what is in mine: box of manila folders for organizing jobs, plastic bags, extra umbrella, and the ‘restaurant’ bag I’ll be discussing next. Other items that can fill the crate are groceries, car accessories, and random items that might otherwise float around your trunk or back of car.

“Restaurant” Bag – I got a drawstring backpack as a promotion from a store I was making a large purchase at a few years ago. When I saw it, I knew what it would be perfect for–a ‘restaurant bag.’ I call it a ‘restaurant bag’ because it is filled with items to keep my kids occupied when we go out to eat. I keep it stocked with paper, crayons, stickers, and a package of wipes. This is kept in the crate so I’ll always know where to find it when we pull into the restaurant parking lot.




Other Organizing Products for Your Car:

Recycle Bag Holder – According to the Tote Buddy website, the Tote Buddy is the ‘world’s first reusable bag holder.’ It neatly holds all of your recycle bags when you go to the market. It’s perfect for keeping all recycle bags in one place instead of strewn across a trunk or backseat. Here is an example of one below:

The Tote Buddy

The people from Tote Buddy were at the NAPO Conference 2012 EXPO with all of their beautiful designs. It would make a great gift for someone who prefers to use recycle bags when they go shopping.

Organizer for Kids: Kids come with a lot of STUFF and they like to bring some of that STUFF with them when they go in the car. To prevent all that STUFF from being all over your car, consider an organizing product that hangs over the driver/passenger seat and faces the child. Many styles have room for crayons, hand-held games, books, DVDs and other STUFF kids like to have with them in the car.

Over-the-seat Car Organizer by Lillian Vernon

Desk: Do you or someone you know work out of their car? This product is a very good solution for those with mobile office needs. The Car Go Desk secures in the passenger seat with a seat belt and offers space for files, mobile equipment and peripherals.

cargodesk.biz

OK–next time you get into your car, take a good look inside. Would any of these products make your car more organized? Do you currently use any of these products? Tell me–I’d love to know!

Eyeliner as Time Management Tool?

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If you’ve been reading my posts for the past few months, you already know that every Friday I post an organizing tip to my Organized Artistry Facebook Page. Each month has it’s own theme–December’s theme is Time Management.

While creating content for this theme, I came up with a bunch of products that help manage or save a person’s time. Typical products like calendars and kitchen timers came to mind but as the night wore on, I got punchy and came up with a few ‘unorthodox’ time management products. The one I’ll be talking about today is one I use at least 5x a week. Gentlemen–you may want to get up for a few minutes and have your wife/mother/girlfriend/friend read on ’cause we’ll be talkin’ about makeup.

Makeup? Yes, the stuff ladies wear on their faces.

Makeup as a time management tool? Yes–I’ll make you a believer by the end of this post…

I promised myself (and my husband) that when we had kids, I would make the time to, as my mother likes to say, ‘put on a face’ in the morning. We now have two small children so my makeup routine has to be quick and simple.

I have this eyeliner I love–the color, the texture, but it seemed as if I had to sharpen it every 2-3 days. That’s fine if you have the time in the morning but lately, I just don’t.

I stopped into my local Sephora to see if they had another eyeliner in that color that I wouldn’t have to sharpen so often. They did!

Today’s Cool Product/Time Management Tool is the…
Sephora Retractable Waterproof Eyeliner

The Sephora consultant showed me how I didn’t need a sharpener at all with this eyeliner. All I had to do was give it a twist and more eyeliner would reappear. Now it takes me about 1-2 seconds to get my eyeliner ready for use as opposed to the few minutes it took with the other pencil. Perfect for the mom on the go!

They come in a multitude of colors–I use Brown #08 for everyday usage.

The only ‘con’ about this eyeliner is that you don’t know you’re at the end of the eyeliner until you try to turn the base and it stops turning. I live near a Sephora but I can’t always get there so I use another time-management strategy–I buy multiple products–usually 2-3 at a time. This saves me from having to make a last minute trip to the mall which I rarely have time to do.

Bye-bye eyeliner sharpener! Hello, retractable (and time-saving) eyeliner!

What area of YOUR life needs organizing?

Contact Stacey to Get Started!

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