Headlines from the National Organizing Conference

NAPO National Organizing Conference. Headlines.

In the middle of May, professional organizers from all over the country gathered for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) annual conference in Atlanta, GA. As you can imagine, it was a pretty smooth, well-oiled event!

I loved being with other industry professionals, sharing tips, asking questions, and learning new techniques. Some of the content was geared specifically towards organizers, but much of what was shared was applicable to anyone who wants to be more organized and productive. Here are a few headlines: 


  • The average American watches online video for 1 hour and 55 minutes per day. No wonder so many seem to be having a tough time getting things done!
  • The room people most struggle to keep organized is the home office or den. If you have a room full of paper, cords, and old electronics, you are clearly not alone. (NAPO 2016 Public Survey)
  • The top five factors that prevent people from effectively addressing clutter are:
  1. A general feeling of “overwhelm”
  2. Difficulty in deciding what to keep and what to discard
  3. Lack of time
  4. Inability to stay focused when de-cluttering/ distractibility
  5. Continuous inflow of new items

(NAPO 2016 Public Survey)

Can you relate to any of these reasons?

  • Paperwork is the top source of disorganization in the workplace. In spite of the move to paperless environments, we still have excess paper to process. (NAPO 2016 Public Survey)
  • 68% of American adults own a smartphone, which is up from 35% in 2011. In many ways, these “handheld computers” make us more productive, but they can also be distracting and interruptive. (Pew Research Center)
NAPO-CT Chapter out to Dinner
NAPO-CT Chapter sharing ideas over dinner


  • Before you begin to sort and de-clutter, establish criteria for what you will keep and what you will shed. For example,

 – I will keep anything that belonged to my mother.

 – I will let go of any paperback books

 – I will not keep any furniture that I’m not currently using

 – I will delete all emails from retailers

 – I will donate clothing that I haven’t worn in 3 years.

Deciding in advance makes the process go more quickly by easing the decision-making pressure.

  • After giving instructions say, “Would you please repeat back what you just heard me say?” This ensures that you have been heard and understood.
  • Whenever you hold a meeting, end with a recap of who will be doing what by when. This becomes the jumping off point for the next meeting.
  • Keep the items you use every day in the most convenient spaces
    • drawers you can reach from your desk chair
    • desktop on your computer screen
    • eye-level shelves
    • low bins for children
  • Relocate anything that you access only periodically to more remote storage
    • difficult to reach cabinets
    • boxes at the bottom of a stack
    • folders in your computer
    • top shelves in the closet
    • upper hanging for children

This may sound obvious, but open a convenient drawer and you are likely to find a few belongings that would be better off moved elsewhere.

  • When naming digital documents, use a consistent file convention. An easy template to use is:


For example,


  • When you download a digital file, immediately give it an appropriate name and move it to the right folder. Don’t allow documents to pile up in your “Downloads” folder.
  • Setting up a workspace in the home? Face your desk away from the wall. Most people have trouble thinking when they can’t look up and into the distance.
  • If you want to organize a space, ask someone to hold you accountable. People who add accountability to a project achieve their goal 95% of the time.


  • Each day we are both living and dying. Which one will be our focus?
  • Our mindset impacts our quality of life more than our circumstances.
  • A small change – executed consistently – is likely to have a large result.
  • When asked “how to succeed,” a panel of billionaires answered:
  1. If you feel passionately about something, be willing to work for the cause even if it doesn’t offer the top salary.
  2. Be yourself. Don’t try to act or look like someone you are not.
  3. Define your values and live by them.
  4. Rather than separate work and life, seek to integrate them.
  5. Be ready for rejection.
  • Embrace the Japanese concept of Kaizen. This literally translates into “change” and “good,” but practically means “continuous improvement.” We are never too old to learn and grow.
  • “Don’t spend your life proving yourself, spend your life improving yourself.” ~ Scott Greenberg
  • “Action sparks confidence.” ~Mindy Rodenburg

*   *     *     *     *

Attending the national conference is one way that I invest in being “ever better.”

How do you invest in lifelong learning? Do any of these headlines stand out to you?

20 thoughts on “Headlines from the National Organizing Conference”

    1. It was a lot of fun, Janine. I bet you have similar experiences at blog conferences. Wonderful opportunities to network and grow and laugh:)

  1. Very thought provoking, Seana. I love how a conference can inspire and in turn benefit others around you, because of what you have learned.
    I love the part about setting up you desk facing away from the wall. If I had the room I would do that, because you are right staring at a blank wall is not very inspirational. I will definitely keep that in mind when I move my office into the spare room within this next year.
    Jill Robson recently posted…Organizing ……….an Olympic event?My Profile

    1. I had the same reaction to the tip about the desk. My little kitchen desk faces a wall, and I find I typically carry my laptop over to the kitchen island where I have a view. Just a handy tip to keep in mind. Love hearing everyone’s “take aways” 🙂

  2. Faithful Organizers! How fun this conference must be. And so well organized I bet, although wouldn’t it be ironic if it was a hot mess conference? (I doubt it is)
    This – A general feeling of “overwhelm”. That stops me from many things, and not just attacking clutter.
    Tamara recently posted…Summer Bucket List 2016.My Profile

    1. It ran very smoothly, as you might expect. They had an app that had all the information and we could submit evaluations through it, and download handouts, etc. Also, everything stayed on schedule LOL! Overwhelm is a powerful deterrent to many things. As you can see, it is a common source of anxiety and procrastination, so you are in good company. Having someone else walk alongside can be very helpful for tackling areas where overwhelm has taken hold.

  3. Fabulously organized recap! I absolutely love my time with other Faithful Organizers and POs at conference. I always learn new things or get refreshed on some oldies, but goodies. Always a well organized event.

    1. It was so wonderful to meet in person, Angela. Just being together was definitely a highlight. I’m so glad to be a part of FO and the wonderful support network. Maybe someday we can have our own get together somewhere central!

    1. I felt the same, Ellen. Thank you for serving NAPO in so many ways. I know more great things are ahead for this industry and the wonderful professionals who participate!

  4. Master organizers!

    You give great advice in this post and I related to many of the points you made. For example paperwork was (still is but less) my worst problem.
    I fixed it with dedicated storage in our office. It was a small bedroom so it had a closet. We turned the room into an office and by adding shelves in the closet we gained huge paper & file storage.
    TwoPlusCute recently posted…Brown Thumb Proof: Care for Iris PlantsMy Profile

    1. I love adding shelving to a closet that isn’t used for clothing. It is SUCH a useful space! Terrific idea… did you take “before” and “after” photos? I’d love to see them:)

    1. I think that resonated with many of us at the conference, Janet. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning, but I like the way he emphasized that this should be for our benefit, not to impress others.

  5. You took great notes and love your takeaways from the conference. It was really inspiring for me, both personally and professionally, to be there!

    1. It was inspiring, Jodi! I always come away with lots of “to dos” and ideas to try. Also wonderful learning more about Sparefoot!

  6. This post is an incredible GOLD MINE of information…both for me to pass along to my readers, and for me as a content marketer (to pinpoint where to focus my energy). Thanks so much Seana!

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