Education is Bigger in Texas

“Big learning” was the theme for the 2019 conference of NAPO, The National Association for Productivity and Organizing Professionals in Fort Worth, TX.  I learned a lot, and still have some recordings I am looking forward to listening to. While the teachings were mostly directed at professionals, I always like to share some tips or thoughts that I think might be interesting to my readers.

So, in no particular order, here are a few headlines you might find interesting.

On setting goals…

Most of us fall short of goals because the ones we set are too broad. As an illustration, one speaker talked about how we need to be specific when using GPS to guide us to a location. Simply typing in the name of a state or city isn’t enough. Instead, we need to key in an exact street address. The same is true when we want to make a change or pursue a goal. Rather than saying we want to, “Be more organized,” we might choose to, “Develop 3 habits for putting things away daily.”

On feeling disorganized…

It turns out that feeling disorganized is quite normal. NAPO recently conducted a public quantitative research study, and while official results are still being tabulated, it was interesting to see that more than three quarters of respondents said they felt disorganized at least sometimes, and almost 10% felt disorganized all of the time. When asked what was the number one room that needed organizing, the answer was the kitchen. Would you agree?

With NAPO President Ellen Delap

On procrastination…

Procrastination has historically been seen as primarily a time management issue. Recent studies have suggested that it is perhaps more of a mood issue. It seems procrastinators need to be “in the mood” in order to initiate tasks that they don’t really want/need to do. If you struggle with procrastination, consider what you can do to motivate yourself at a feeling level. Maybe you need a brighter workspace, background music, appealing images, more privacy, or something else.

On keeping track of time…

Many people struggle with “seeing” time pass, especially in the digital era. Digital clocks only give us one piece of information, namely the time at the current moment. They don’t show us where this moment stands in relationship to our available time or the time that has passed. For instance, I may know that it is 11:40am, but I might not automatically internalize the corresponding fact that I only have 20 minutes left before I need to leave for work or finish a project. If time seems to disappear on you, consider getting an analog clock.  Analog clocks help us to see time passing, which helps us use the time we have more effectively. If you want to go one step further, put analog clocks in every room where you tend to lose track of time, including the bathroom.

On saying no….

Many of us struggle to say no, even when we know we should. It feels uncomfortable to give a negative response, particularly when the request comes from a friend, family member, or boss. An effective alternative is to make a “counter-offer.” For instance, if someone interrupts you at work with a need to talk but the current moment isn’t convenient, offer to call or Skype later at a specific future time. Similarly, if someone asks you to lead a committee and you don’t have the time, offer to take on a particular task that you know you can do well.

Devotions with other Faithful Organizers

On smartphones…

We are touching them more than we may realize. Recent research suggests we touch our phones as many as 5,000 times a day. This may sound unlikely, but if we consider every click, tap or swipe, it just may be true. I pulled out my phone the morning after attending this session and realized how quickly the “contacts” were adding up as I checked a few emails, typed some texts and swiped through a few sites. Do you think you touch your phone this often? If so, do you think it is helping or hurting your productivity?

On documentation…

It is never too young to put important legal documents in place. For example, anyone who is 18 years or older should have a health care power of attorney. If this is not in place, the doctor may be the one authorized to make all decisions instead of the parents.

With fellow blogging organizers

On clutter…

The ability to see and access belongings correlates to enhanced feelings of abundance. A person who owns few possessions, but can easily see them, touch them, and use them will record a higher perception of abundance than someone whose possessions are hidden in inaccessible locations. This makes me think of of all the packed storage units that exist across the country. Do we know what is in them? Do they make us feel rich and fulfilled?

On letting go…

One trick for sorting through clothing was shared by guest speaker Gretchen Rubin. She suggested we consider what she called the “ex-factor.” Ask yourself how you would feel if you ran into your “ex” wearing a given garment. If the answer is “not good,” it might be time to let that piece go.

Waiting for Gretchen Rubin

On impulse shopping…

If you tend to buy too much online at the spur of the moment, considering deleting your online accounts. The little bit of extra time and energy that will be required to check-out as a guest may be enough to get you past that impulsive moment.

On living with messy or disorganized people…

We can only clear our own clutter. We can’t change other people or make them behave differently. So what can we do if we are frustrated with living in a disorganized environment? Start by finding an area (a desk, a corner, a chair, a room), where we can create and maintain order regardless of what others are doing in the rest of our space. Having this “sanctuary” can give us a sense of being in control, relieve tension, and maybe even help us to be more tolerant of what’s going on around us.

On digital photos…

We all know we are taking more photos, but we are also taking different kinds of photos. In the past, we took photos primarily for sentimental reasons (e.g. of family, events, vacations, etc.) Now we take photos for a wide variety of reasons, such as for work (e.g. to record a slide we saw at a presentation), as memory aids (e.g. to remind us what spot we parked in or what part we want to buy at the hardware store), and as decision-making aids (e.g. to capture three choices for lamps we saw in the store with our spouse later in the week). The result is that we all have a very large number of images, most of which are jumbled up our devices. Fortunately, photos are more searchable than they used to be. Want to see (and maybe delete) all photos of paperwork you have taken over the year? Type the word, “Whiteboard” into the search bar. Or, add some keywords or names to your photos, such as “work,” “Mary,” or “Disney 2019” to help you more easily find the photos you want, when you want to see them.

Also, if you dislike having to double click each time you delete a photo on your computer, try using the keyboard shortcut command+delete. This will keep the computer from repeatedly asking you if you are sure you want to delete each photo.

Dinner with old & new Friends

And finally, a few noteworthy quotes…

We can’t predict the future, but we can anticipate it.” ~ Sue Pine

What do you need to let go in order to get what you want?” ~Nettie Owens

The limit does not exist.” ~ Cady Heron

There is no such thing as lazy. There is usually a deeper, underlying reason why we don’t do something.” ~Regina Lark

If you can’t see it, you can’t manage it.” ~ Leslie Josel

You don’t have to buy it now. You can store it at the store.” ~ Gretchen Rubin.

* * * * *

Do any of these tips or thoughts resonate with you? Which one?

31 thoughts on “Education is Bigger in Texas”

  1. What great advice, especially on procrastination as I most definitely have a tendency to procrastinate here and will keep in mind the concept of motivating factors when I feel myself leaning towards procrastinating. So, thanks for that and more 🙂

    1. That was kind of eye-opening to me to hear the current thinking on procrastination. I certainly know that an uninviting (or worse, unappealing) workspace can deter me from getting started. Why not do what we can to help us ourselves dive in, right?

  2. Love this “round up” of big ideas! The education is a big component of this year’s conference. AND the networking is big too where we share what we learned, where we are in our business, and where we set goals. Thank you for being a part of my NAPO2019 experience!

    1. I had so much fun networking this year, Ellen. I’ve been coming long enough that it is starting to feel like a family reunion. So many groups to get to “hang” with, and to talk about our businesses, our dreams, our plans, our questions, our ideas, and more. Another wonderful experience because of you and the leadership of NAPO. Well done, on this conference, and on leading this organization these past two years:)

  3. Love all these snippets from the NAPO conference! There were so many fabulous classes. I certainly came away with a few new tools to use as well as reminders of things I have not focused on. I loved seeing you and some of our other blogging buddies!

    1. I came away with quite a “follow-up” list myself, Diane. It was SO GREAT to get to see you in person. I really enjoyed being together in real time. What a wonderful tribe of organizing bloggers we have. Looking forward to what everyone has to say in the upcoming year:)

  4. I appreciated Leslie Josel’s reminder of the importance of using analog clocks! I recently took down some wall decor in my office and decided to get a bigger analog clock. In the meanwhile I had no wall clock. And it drastically decreased my personal productivity!! I immediately noticed a huge improvement with the bigger clock in my direct line of site. It was great to see you, Seana!
    Olive Wagar recently posted…What’s on Your Happy List?My Profile

    1. Wow, Olive. That is a very powerful testimony to the analog clock’s impact. You should tell Leslie that story! I loved seeing you too, Olive. Wonderful being together.

  5. When I read this, I had a flashback of the time when, as a university student, I ran into an ex-boyfriend. I wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t look my best and was wearing a very unflattering outfit. I will remember that incident the next time I’m trying to decide whether to keep something that’s comfy but has seen better days! You just never know when I might run into him (or another ex) again! 😀
    Janet Barclay recently posted…Blogging and AuthenticityMy Profile

    1. I thought that was a great little tidbit of a suggestion. If we don’t feel good about how we look in a garment, why are we keeping it? Maybe we hold onto a few for painting or lounging around, but maybe that’s about it. Visceral moments like the one you describe are definitely memorable!

  6. It looks like you got a lot out of your NAPO conference experience!

    My son requested an analog watch for college. He stated that he wanted to learn more about how long things take and an analog clock/watch works wonderfully. I’m so glad he came to this conclusion by himself.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…15 Day Purging ChallengeMy Profile

    1. That is such great insight for him to have, especially given that so few young people are wearing watches these days. My younger daughter got into the habit when she was on an international trip, and now she never leaves home without it. I feel the same way, and always wear a watch myself. I have one that is digital (my sports watch), but all the rest are analog.

  7. Looks like it was a fabulous conference! Loved seeing your pics on Insta! The stat about touching our phones 5,000x a day was eye-opening. And being a Gretchen Rubin fan, I love the tip – get rid of that outfit it if you don’t want your ex to see you in it. 😉 I’m on the wait list at the library to read her new book!

    1. Just have to smile at your comment about being on the wait list to read her book. I’m currently on the wait list to read The Home Edit. Want to read, but don’t want book clutter, right?

  8. You certainly picked up a lot of helpful tips at conference! I am sorry I missed it, and I hope to attend next year. I enjoyed all of your take-aways. I love analog clocks because I can see time pass. The tip about asking yourself if you’d be happy with wearing an outfit if an ex saw you in it is priceless. The noteworthy quotes you took away are wonderful!

    1. I’m thinking a “swabbing” of phones would make a great science fair project. I though the number sounded much too large until I realized that every text could be 20 touches or more. It was a great conference and I’m still reeling from all I took in. Very fun to be with like-minded people, though, and to share and network for a few days in a warm location:)

  9. It was wonderful having the opportunity to hang out with you (and take a few photos with our fellow organizing bloggers) at the conference. Thank you for getting us together. I am blown away by all the nuggets (and excellent notes) you assimilated. Some of what you shared was familiar (because I went to that session too,) while other takeaways were surprises. But all of your takeaways are fantastic, and especially how you grouped them. Like you, I too blogged this week about attending the conference but chose one overarching theme of ‘letting go,’ which I see showed up here too. I like Gretchen’s useful question for determining whether to keep or release specific clothing. I also appreciated your reminder about saying no and making a counteroffer.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…7 Surprising Letting Go Lessons I Learned at Organizing ConferenceMy Profile

    1. I took in quite a bit over the last few days. Some of it is more relevant to me and my business, but there are always nuggets that I think anyone could appreciate. We definitely valued some of the same tips, which I love. I hope your trip home was smoother than the one down dear friend. See you in November, if not before!!

  10. I SO think that about procrastination. I need to be in a certain mood to do my best creative stuff.. and sometimes that means the fire lit under me. I can time manage quite well when it’s less creative, I swear!
    And the living with messy people thing hit home. I’m not terribly messy but I’m not terribly organized. And I can be chaotic. Cassidy has to set aside his own sanctuary in the home because of us.

    1. I have my “zones” in the house, and the family knows to keep those neat so that Mom is happy. That said, I have to admit that my husband is really starting to come around. I have been impressed with some of his recent organizing project. It makes me happy:)

  11. Fabulous recap. We attended a lot of the same sessions (Leslie & Regina’s, Isobelle’s, as well as the general sessions), so what you picked really resonated with me (and I can’t wait to use Command+Delete on photos to stop being pestered by my Mac). I’m glad we’re all home safely now, able to appreciate all of the knowledge and camaraderie we got to experience over the past week. Thank you for sharing!
    Julie Bestry recently posted…NAPO 2019: Organizing With a Heart as Big As TexasMy Profile

    1. Have to admit I came home and immediately tested the command+delete shortcut… it was amazing. I still have so many sessions that I can’t wait to listen to. Many are circled on the agenda so I won’t forget when the recordings are released. So fun to be with everyone, and to see YOU Julie. Have a great week!

  12. All very interesting. Isn’t it great to have these conferences where you can get ideas from others in your business! Sounds like it was a very productive time.

    1. It was a lot of information, but now I have a year to process what I learned and put it into practice. The networking with other professionals is one of my favorite parts because it is an opportunity to share with others who are in the same situations. Wonderful opportunity!

    1. Having fun and seeing old friends is definitely a valuable part of the conference. I learn so much just chatting with my fellow professionals. I’m still processing much of what I learned (and making a long “follow up” list for myself), but I’ve already been able to pass on a few new skills to clients, so that feels great!

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