April 29, 2013

NAPO Conference 2013 - Cool Organizing Products

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?

April 15, 2013

I'm Attending the NAPO Conference 2013 in New Orleans!

In a few days, I'll be attending the National Association of Professional Organizers 25th Annual Conference. This year it's in New Orleans. I've never been to 'NOLA'--I'm very excited to go! This will be my fifth NAPO conference since I started my business back in 2002.

Last year's conference in Baltimore was a blast. It was jam-packed with meeting new people, learning new ways to grow and enhance my business, and it started off and ended with my first lengthy solo drive (for 3.5 hrs each way from NJ).

This year, since the solo drive would be MUCH too long, I'll be flying. I'll be packing everything I need in a carry-on bag--this is where my skills as a Professional Organizer will prove very useful. I've decided that despite the warm weather report, I'll base all my outfits around the colors black, red/purple/pink. I'm trying to limit the shoes I bring to three pair. The true challenge will be paring down my bag of medical/health/makeup products!

Last year, I took some 'techie' workshops--this year I'm focusing on some areas I have little or no knowledge of. The workshops I'm signed up for are:

Self-Confidence: The Secret Success Mindset (taught by NAPO-NNJ's Chapter President, Cena Block)
Organizing: Eyes Toward Re-Design
Packages, Programs and Value-Based Pricing
Pinterest for Business
Becoming a Kindle Book Author
Turning 'Likes' into Paying Clients

There will be two 'Ask the Organizer' Panels - one of which will feature Golden Circle Members on the panel (those who have been in business over 5 years). I always learn something new from my colleagues at these panels.

In addition there will be three Keynote speakers, a NAPO Business Meeting and Luncheon, and a NAPO Awards Luncheon. If it's anything like last year's Awards Luncheon, it's sure to be a three hanky affair...

And let's not forget the place to learn about new and exciting organizing products--THE EXPO! Big names like Rubbermaid, Ziploc and 3M are there as well as small business that provide Professional Organizers with products to revolutionize our client's lives (and ours, too!), If the Command Hook people are there, I'm going to have to stop by for a demonstration. I always forget how to use those hooks properly...

Stay tuned for my post-conference blog post!

April 3, 2013

Cool Product: Pocket (formerly Read It Later)

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.


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?