Fly On the Wall at the Organizer’s Conference

Hosting the Professional Organizer's Conference

Yesterday I had the pleasure of helping to host the 4th annual North East Regional Conference for Professional Organizers (affectionately known as NERCPO). This is an event hosted by organizers and productivity professionals in the state of Connecticut for colleagues across the Northeast. What a fun day we had! Admittedly, some of you may be thinking that spending the day with a group of people who love all things organizing doesn’t sound like your cup of tea. However, you might be surprised! Here are a few things you might have heard and seen if you had been a fly on the wall.

[Note: these are paraphrases of things I heard, not direct quotes. I was writing quickly!]

  • As it happens, of all the vulgar words in the English language, half of them are four letter words (part of a little bit of “4” trivia that was shared because this was our 4th annual conference…)
  • Coffee tastes better if you wait until the urn has fully finished perking and the red light comes on (trial by error on this one).
Sandra Wheeler, owner of                             For Peace of Mind


  • If an item sits in your space for 30 days, your brain stops “seeing” it. Your basket of mismatched items, a pile of magazines waiting to be read, the broken toy awaiting repair, the coats slung over the chair… apparently it only takes 30 days for visual cues like these to stop grabbing our attention. They become like the wallpaper, fading into the background.
  • If you aren’t happy with your space, try to look at it with fresh eyes. Imagine that a river is entering your home, and ask yourself where this river would get stuck if it tried to flow throughout the house. Identifying potential obstacles is one way to clarify what might need to go away in order to make the environment more comfortable.
  • According to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui (pronounced ‘Fung Schway’), the more unnecessary stuff you store in your attic, the less likely you are to aspire to something new, whereas the more you keep in the basement, the more you will remain rooted in the past. Something to think about. You should also keep your toilet lids down at all times to keep energy from draining away.
  • When decluttering, ask yourself if you use or love an item… don’t ask yourself if you need it. We can usually come up with some potential need, undermining our ability to make decisions.
  • Either fix things that are broken in your space or dispose of them. Avoid surrounding yourself with things that aren’t working.
  • Piles of paper, stacks of unread books/magazines and incomplete projects silently scream, “you should.” Move these items out of the bedroom, and let your bedroom be a place for rest, sleep and romance.
  • Often we like to keep photos and other small items on our desks, but these can undermine productivity by drawing our attention away from the task at hand. Instead, clear off your desk completely, and give yourself the gift of focus. When you have finished the work, you can move to other spaces and enjoy photos and other visual pleasures at your leisure.
productivity speaker
With Neena Nandagopal of                    Almost Practical


  • Most of us know we are being bombarded by virtual information, but we might not realize that we have also been overwhelmed by technological tools. Storing data/content/photos across a variety of platforms can make us feel scattered. Consolidating storage of digital content can give us a greater sense of control.
  • Having a system for tracking what we need to do and remember is critical. Want to go digital? A couple great options include Nozbe, ToDoist, Things and Omni Focus.
  • Do you love Alexa? While she’s great for information, Alexa also makes a handy calculator and timer.
  • Passwords should be strong and diverse. Don’t use the same password for multiple locations. Consider using a digital password manager such as 1Password, and letting it auto-generate rock-solid passwords for you. It takes a hacker 20 minutes to crack a 7-digit password, but 2½ years to break a 15-digit password!
  • The item pictured below is a scooping device specifically designed for clearing out gutters. (By the way, if you enjoy guessing games, subscribe to this blog. A full visual clutter challenge will be posted soon.)

Gutter Scoop

  • Don’t “should on yourself.” You should really take a look at what you keep telling yourself you should do.
speaker on clinical organizing
Rachel Sager, founder & owner of                             RESTART


  • You can’t change the life around you, but you can change your way around life. It is our thoughts, not our stuff, our circumstances or other people, that most influence our feelings and behaviors.
  • Do you have a sentimental item you are struggling to let go? Does taking a photo feel like it might not be enough to keep the memory alive? Try journaling about it, or recording a video of you holding it and talking about it. Recording the “whole story” might help you release the item itself.
  • When we speak to others, the meaning of what we are saying is received as follows:
    • 7% by the words we are speaking
    • 38% by the tone we are using
    • 55% by the facial cues we are expressing.
  • Don’t assume your children or grandchildren will want your stuff. The younger generation seems to be particularly disinterested in anything that typically lives in the dining room.

post it notes

Extreme Post-its

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I am a big fan of lifelong learning. This conference was fun, collaborative and inspirational. Have you attended a conference, class or gathering that helped you stretch and grow?

24 thoughts on “Fly On the Wall at the Organizer’s Conference”

  1. Yesterday’s conference was a definite thumbs up and the 3 of us look great in that photo! Your Clutter Quiz, as always, was a hit. I think my favorite quote of the day was Rachel’s about changing the life around you. Way to go NAPO-CT for another great NERCPO!!

    1. I had a wonderful time. I think it was our “smoothest” conference yet. A big part of the day for me now is seeing the familiar faces from our region. We have the best people in this profession!

  2. What an incredible conference! You guys do such a tremendous job in all areas- great speakers, networking, vendors, food, pacing, and all around fun! Bravo on another great event. I love your recap. It’s intriguing to see which things you noticed. In my post that will go out tomorrow, I also featured the NERCPO conference. My head is still full with so many nuggets. Like you, I love learning. Letting the “shoulds” go, which Sandra Wheeler spoke about, was something that resonated with me. That was the tip of the iceberg. Thank you for all that you and the NAPO-CT team did to bring us a seamlessly-run, educationally-rich event.

    1. Thanks to all those in Westchester who support us and show up each year! I can’t wait to read your recap as well, because I know that we each remember different little treasures. Honestly one of the best parts of the day is just getting to see your familiar faces and get to catch up with each other. We have the BEST people in this profession!

  3. What an amazing amount of information to absorb in just one day – and this is just your highlights! Sounds like it was well worthwhile.

    I totally agree that we stop seeing things after a while. After my dad passed, I brought home his computer tower and tucked it away in the corner of an infrequently used room until I got around to dealing with it. I got rid of it last week and am amazed how much bigger the room looks now!

    1. That resonated with me as well. I had a secretary desk in my apartment for a long time years back that needed to be refinished. I got started on the project, and then got distracted. It wasn’t until someone asked about it that I realized I had this big, ugly, half-stripped piece of furniture in the middle of my living room:)

  4. Hi Seana,
    It is as so nice to see so many familiar faces yesterday. I was honored to be invited to speak and learned so many interesting things from the other speakers, vendors, and the amazing organizers that I met. Congratulations to you and NAPO CT for putting on such a top notch event!

    1. Thanks for coming and sharing your wisdom, Neena. This conference is one of my favorite days of the year. So much fun, sharing, networking and learning. I hope our paths will cross again soon:)

    1. You should come next year, Sabrina! We’ve had people from Philly come…I’m not sure exactly where you are but in my mind you are in PA? It isn’t that far and I’d love to have you!

    1. I love them too, Andi. There are some surfaces or situations that make them hard to stick. I’ve already gone with “full adhesive” versions, but I’m (ridiculously) excited about trying these new ones:)

  5. How fun would it be to be a fly on the wall there! I love the idea of the bedroom for sleep and romance. Cassidy even says NO TV THERE EVER! And I love the idea that your brain stops “seeing” things after an amount of time. I’ve noticed that!! I love the 3M brand, by the way.

    1. I don’t have a TV in my bedroom either. I feel so old fashioned, but I really prefer it that way. Unfortunately, mobile devices mean my husband can “bring the tv with him,” but I try and discourage that. I like the serenity of being disconnected in the bedroom. And I agree… 3M has great stuff!

  6. This was a great recap of your conference. I wish I lived closer so I could have attended. I love all of these tips, and I’m looking forward to trying out Extreme Post-its soon.

  7. Extreme Post-It Notes? Just another reason I love 3M!! I haven’t been able to attend a conference, so thanks for sharing these tidbits. It’s almost as good as being there.

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