Insights From A Day Away

NERCPO Sign. Every now and then, I intentionally step away from my normal activities to stretch myself in a new direction.

As a Professional Organizer, I love routine. The familiar procession of activities feels peaceful and comfortable. However, every now and then, I intentionally step away from my normal activities to stretch myself in a new direction. This past Saturday I had the pleasure and privilege of working with the CT Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) to host a regional conference for organizers working in the Northeast (fondly nicknamed, “NERCPO”). The day featured three speakers, a session on appraising, time to peruse products and services, and some breaks to relax and chat.

In additional to helpful business-related information, I also came away with some insights that I think could apply to all people, in all walks of life. We are more similar than we are different, so hopefully these will resonate with you as they did for me.


=> Generous volunteers are a treasure.

Anyone who has thrown a party or hosted an event knows how wonderful it is to have timely, efficient, and reliable help. As my team hustled to pull together last minute details, I was reminded again of what a great gift it is to have people upon whom you can truly rely. Individuals who show up with a smile and quietly do what needs to be done are worth their weight in gold.

The Tech Team
Registration Team

=> Most of us need a break from technology.

One of our speakers talked about the ways in which the digital environment has infiltrated our lives. In many respects, technology has improved our quality of life; I love the fact that I can FaceTime loved ones living far away. At the same time, many of us struggle to get away from our devices, feeling the need to be perpetually on call or constantly “checking in.” Awareness of the downsides is only beginning to emerge, as are strategies for erecting healthy boundaries. The struggle is real, and the solutions aren’t simple. Yet, even a few hours away from my phone on Saturday felt surprisingly refreshing, and I’m interested in seeing what other small changes I might be able to make to lighten the pressures this new reality is bringing to bear.


=> Eating together strengthens relationship.

As you may know, I love social media and the connectedness of liking, commenting and sharing. Nonetheless, there is something about sitting around a table and sharing a meal that really bonds people together. In a world of increasingly digital communication, I hope we don’t forget to spend time face-to-face, hearing the intonation of each others’ voices and seeing each other’s facial expressions. Conversations that take place over food tend to be less guarded, a bit more intimate, and peppered with thoughts and ideas that otherwise might never percolate to the surface. There is a little big of magic in the breaking of bread!

=> It’s always fun to win.

One feature of our event is a multi-prize raffle, made possible by the generous donations of vendors and sponsors. In a room of people who resist clutter, there was still a jolt of joy each time a participant heard his/her name called to win a prize. I don’t think we ever outgrow the thrill that comes from being declared the winner. I’m tucking this revelation away to remind myself to think more of how I might replicate that feeling for the people around me.


=> Wisdom deserves an audience.

In the midst of busy lives, we often lack the bandwidth to pause, listen, ponder, and reflect. We zoom past people whose life experiences have given them wise perspectives, gleaning only the bare minimum of what we need to get through the day. Granting ourselves permission to take a weekend, a day, or even a couple of hours to set the chaos aside and sit under wise teaching is an investment in our character. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”


=> We are all experts at something, and will never know everything.

During our appraisal session, I was greatly impressed by the appraiser’s depth of knowledge about the various objects that participants had brought along. His knowledge must have taken years to acquire, and his expertise was both fascinating and inspiring. Yet even he admitted that a few of the items were not within his realm of expertise. There are many “sub specialties” when it comes to valuables, as there are within almost all fields. Whatever we do on a daily basis (taking care of children, studying, researching, conducting business, providing care…) will result in some measure of expertise. Still, there will always be things we don’t know, and that is perfectly fine. Knowing when to pass the baton or reach out to another resource is a sign of strength, not weakness.


=> Good communication is worth the effort.

All of us have different communication styles. The key to communication is thinking less about ourselves, and more about the person with whom we are seeking to connect. Our natural inclination is to speak or write in a way that makes sense to us. A better approach is to consider the other person, and speak or write in a way that makes sense to him. It’s a new twist on the Golden Rule: instead of “Treat others the way you wish to be treated,” consider “Treat others the way they wish to be treated.” This takes a bit more intentionality, but may payoff in fewer misunderstandings and more positive interactions.

=> The greatest value of our belongings is in their story and emotional significance.

Much of my job entails talking to people about their physical belongings. We consider questions such as, Should I keep this? Does this have value? Will my children want this? What I learned this weekend is that the true value of physical possessions is rarely financial. Inherent worth of belongings (beyond tangible usefulness) is mostly in their stories; in other words, nostalgic value. The market is a shifting landscape, and what was worth $700 twenty years ago may be worth only a few dollars today. Since we can’t anticipate the shifting sands of demand of the future, we should keep, use and enjoy what provides us with an emotional payoff.


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Stepping out of the normal routine can be a great way to glean a new perspective or refresh a downtrodden spirit. Have you ever taken a day away? What insights did you garner?

30 thoughts on “Insights From A Day Away”

    1. I honestly realized that I felt refreshed after a 3-hour work session where I didn’t check my phone. Fairly profound, considering I didn’t even have a phone 10 years ago. The pace of change is a challenge, but we are smart enough to figure ways to protect our sacred time!

  1. It looks like you had a great time. I really enjoy coming together with like minded individuals. It really helps me feel that I am not alone in this process. Even if we don’t go out to dinner, going for a quick coffee also helps.

  2. What an incredible conference, Seana! You and your awesome NAPO-CT team of volunteers held an amazing event (that’s two for two!) You are an inspiring host and you made everyone feel welcome and valued. I loved looking around to see people interacting, learning and enjoying each other’s company. I felt honored to participate and share with the group about managing digital overwhelm. I also learned so much from the other speakers, Cena Block about communication, Katie Tracy about independent contracting and Jack Destories about appraising.

    I love your conference takeaways! Like you, I enjoyed having most of my day “tech free.” Normally at events like this I’m tweeting, picture-taking and spliting my time between being present and sharing on social media. As a result, I only have a few photos to remember the wonderful day. But I’m SO happy that you got such great pics and especially love the one of the two of us. Thank you for taking it AND again for such a wonderful day.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…9 Digital Overwhelm Challenges and Helpful Human SolutionsMy Profile

    1. I think we both “gifted” ourselves with simply being present in the day, and not worrying about the world swirling in the digital sphere. I am so steeped in your teaching.. it is just marinating around in my mind. Every single person I know is dealing with the intrusive nature of digital life. I believe you are a thought-leader in helping us think this through, and respond constructively. Hugs my friend!

  3. Thanks for this post – I’ve been looking forward to hearing about your conference! I think these one-day events are often a better learning experience than longer ones, because our brains can only take in so much!

    I’m especially grateful that you shared the highlights of what you learned so that those of us who weren’t there can benefit too.

    I do step away from my regular life from time to time, and it’s always a refreshing reminder that just about anything that really matters can wait until I’m back in action.
    Janet Barclay recently posted…Product Review: Action Day PlannerMy Profile

    1. That is such a good point. When we were in the thick of things, we feel like everything will implode if we step away. However, typically the situation is better if those involved are getting time to refresh and ponder and grow. We had a great conference. So fun to have some of the people you know gifting us with their expertise, right? So thankful:)

  4. So timely for me – just got back from a weekend retreat in the mountains (no cell coverage!) with my choir. We sang, we talked, we ate together, we went on walks and there was space for introverts to have their down time too. Coming back to the “usual” routine of checking in and logging in was jarring. I’m pondering how to find a middle ground between the connected life and the “connected” life.

    1. This is a real challenge for us all. It is surprising how refreshed we feel just to not be looking down at that phone/computer all day long! Your retreat sounds terrific – my kind of thing:)

  5. Everyone, regardless of their profession needs ‘A Day Away!’ Gathering with like minded people over food and knowledge is a wonderful way to step away from the daily grind and refresh one’s self. So happy to see some of my NAPO-NNJ colleagues as speakers and attendees. I hosted our NAPO-NNJ Golden Circle Meeting yesterday–I consider that a similar ‘day away’ (even though it was in my own house). There weren’t any giveaways but plenty of food, fun and wisdom shared..

    1. How nice of you to host a Golden Circle event! Just that time, set aside, for the purpose of growth and reflection is so important. I hope you can come to NERCPO next year, Stacey!!

  6. Great post! It was such a fun day filled with learning and networking. And I couldn’t agree more with you about how great our team of chapter volunteers is. So lucky to be working with so many talented, generous and kind people!

    1. YOU being one of those people! I’m repeatedly impressed by the professionalism and team spirit of our Chapter. Every organization should be so lucky!

  7. WOO HOOO -Love my NAPO NERCPO PEEPS! Such a lovely, reflective post. So honored to be a part of this amazing group of people who are changing peoples’ lives for the better. Thank you so much for the warm reception and wonderful company. Hats off to the entire team, the wonderful speakers, and all those in attendance! Again next year?

    1. Already thinking about next year! Thanks for being such an integral part of this event… for bringing your energy and enthusiasm and wisdom to the podium. You are a gifted speaker, and the room was enthralled as we completed the evaluations and considered how knowing our own communication preferences, and those of our clients, can help us deliver even more to the marketplace. Hats off to you!

  8. This conference was a golden gift to myself! I stepped out of my comfort zone to go to Connecticut to network with professional organizers that I didn’t know, or at least didn’t know well. Besides winning a door prize, which always feels good, I feel that I made new friends. The information shared was wonderful too. It sure was a great day of learning and networking.

    1. I am so glad you took that “risk” and came, Annie! We had fun just being together, in addition to the great content and all the neat products/services we got to see. It’s always great to get to know other organizers – a blessing indeed!

    1. If you happen to be “in the neighborhood” next November, we’d love to have you! It really was great to be with this terrific community. Love NAPO!

  9. Wonderful lessons, and what a rewarding step away!
    “Treat others the way they wish to be treated.” and communicate how they want and need, resonates with me today.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful wisdom!
    carolyn recently posted…The Gratitude TreeMy Profile

    1. Love hearing this feedback, Carolyn. This message really touched me as well. Treating others the way THEY wish to be treated takes more effort, but I can see why it would lead to deeper understanding and more trusting relationships. Hope you have a wonderful day:)

  10. Generous, punctual, hard working volunteers are a god sent. It’s hard to find real passionate people dedicated to a cause and willing to do whatever is needed, so the cause is successful. I totally need a break from technology. I find myself on my phone more than ever nowadays, and it bothers me. WE are all experts at something! I love that statement, it’s so true.
    Mary recently posted…Hello World! Meet Evolve with Mary CraftsMy Profile

    1. Thanks for these nice affirmations, Mary. I can see that you and I agree! I’m so thankful for all of our wonderful volunteers, and for the chance to stretch and grow and learn at special times like these:)

    1. I have been pretty amazed by how difficult it is to step away from technology. I have my own struggles with the FB temptation (and other sites that I’m accustomed to constantly checking!) I feel for my younger clients who need to always be “on call” to the schools, and for employees who are expected to be accessible 24/7. We need to do better and have some time when we completely step away!

  11. This is a great read Seana. I agree, people tend to bond more over food and eating which is probably why it’s a common activity for get-togethers and events.

    I like that statement that says asking for help or knowing when to pass the baton is a sign of strength and not weakness. Also I’ve won raffles quite many times so I know that winning feels good. Ha!

    During my trainer days in customer service, that rule – treat others the way they wish to be treated is what we called the Platinum Rule. Makes sense 🙂

    1. Oh, I love that you have heard of the “plantinum rule”.. great title! I guess it was just new to me:) It’s been profound to chew on this ever since the event.

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