Gifts Received at Conference

The NAPO National Conference was held in Pittsburgh, PA this year, and I was fortunate enough to attend. While there, I couldn’t help but reflect on how grateful I was to have the opportunity to travel with my colleagues and learn from some of the best! My motto is to always have an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ and below are a few of my ‘takeaway’ gifts.

The first gift I received was back in December 2016 at our NAPO-GPC holiday party when I was chosen as the recipient of the NAPO-GPC scholarship. This scholarship enables one qualifying member to attend the conference. Most don’t realize that although I had sent in payment, early on, to reserve my spot, I had been debating on pulling out of going due to other family commitments. Upon the advice of my friend and colleague, she suggested that I wait until after our holiday gathering to make my decision. I am so grateful that I took her advice!

The second gift I received was the undisputed educational opportunity to grow personally and professionally. The keynote speaker was Jones Loflin, and he presented “How To Blossom Even In Times Of Change.” He spoke about the need to cultivate, prune, and accept change. He also spoke to us about the ability to harvest even in times of change. I walked away from his address with a newfound appreciation for growth, and I am looking forward to implementing his examples and expertise. I had the opportunity to choose from many ‘breakout sessions’ and a few of my favorites were the TED Talk Discussion – ‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’ facilitated by our very own Debbie Lilliard, ‘How to Get and Keep Media Attention’ by Paula Rizzo and Terri Trespicio (the dynamic duo), ‘Busily Unproductive’ by Zachary Sexton, and ‘9 Technology Tools to Skyrocket Productivity’ by Amy Payne and Brooks Duncan. Honestly, it was not an easy decision as there were well over 45 sessions to choose from.

Lastly, and most importantly, the greatest gift I received was the ever-present ‘collaboration over competition‘. I have always felt this with my local GPC chapter, but to experience this with well over 600 attendees was astounding. Our NAPO National motto has always been “together we are better,” and to be amongst my peers and feel their sincere desire to see me grow professionally and personally is the greatest gift by far.

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Shed Clutter Weight for the Summer

Clutter WeightLooking for a way to shed a few pounds this summer? If you start with your home, you will gain more than weight loss benefits. Consider the excess weight that is in your home in the form of clutter. Clutter not only adds pounds, but drains your finances and takes a toll on you and your family –  physically, mentally and emotionally.

Take a guess at the approximate weight of these items (answers below):

  1.  A 12” stack of paper:   15 pounds, 20 pounds, 30 pounds
  2.  A 13 gallon garbage bag of clothing:  8 pounds, 15 pounds, 20 pounds
  3.  A 12” stack of books:  10 pounds, 17 pounds, 30 pounds

By taking time to de-clutter your home this summer, you will enjoy these benefits.

Physical

  • Easier to find and maintain what you have
  • Easier to clean your home
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased energy
  • Feel physically lighter

Mental & Emotional

  • Less stress
  • Increased enthusiasm
  • Enhanced mood
  • Increased momentum and direction in pursuit of goals
  • Improved personal relationships

Financial

  • Save money by being able to find what you have
  • Reduced financial loss from overspending
  • Decrease late fee payments
  • Increased productivity
  • More time – time is money

Shed some weight in your home this summer and you might find that the space you create promotes healthy changes in other areas of your life.

Answers to above: 1) 30 pounds    2) 15 pounds   3) 17 pounds.

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Planning on Having an Accident?

Of course not, but…

You’re driving to the grocery store, a trip you’ve made a thousand times. Out of nowhere comes a car running the red light at the intersection you’re crossing – heading straight toward you! Crash!! You’re hurt, stunned and quite possibly in shock.

The police and ambulance arrive. First they ask questions about the accident, most of which you can answer. Then they ask about medications you take, allergies and an emergency contact’s phone number. Your mind goes blank. You are taken to the hospital but you’re unable to give the ER doctors any information that could help them treat you.

Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime to anyone, especially as we’re getting into the busy travel season. What can you do?

Create an Emergency Card containing your critical information to keep with you at all times. Organize it in an easy-to-read format. My Emergency Card is set up in a multi-column format. I recommend it be typed using a plain font and printed on heavy paper or card stock.

However you organize your Emergency Card, start with Emergency Info For. Under that, put your full name and address.

Suggested column headings are:

  1. Emergency Contact with full name, address and phone number
  2. Date of birth
  3. Meds
  4. Vitamins
  5. Allergies
  6. Major illnesses/operations
  7. Primary doctor
  8. Hospital
  9. Pharmacy
  10. Blood type (if you don’t know, find out)

For 3-6, make a list. For 7-9, include full name, phone number and address.

Add any information you think is important.

Make the card small enough to keep in your wallet with your health insurance ID card, driver’s license and car registration. If you plan to be an organ donor, be sure it’s noted on your driver’s license or have a signed Organ Donor Card. Don’t keep the information in your phone if your phone is locked because it cannot be accessed. However, if your phone is unlocked, put the info in Contacts labeled ICE (in case of emergency). First-responders should know to go to your wallet or phone for this information.

Having an Emergency Card could be a life-saver.

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Strut Your House

Home for SaleSelling your home? Put your best foot forward from the very start!

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” are words of advice often attributed to Will Rogers. If you are planning to put your house on the market, now is the time to take heed.

The Facts

Putting in the time and money before listing a house pays off – literally. The more time your home spends on the market, the more it will cost YOU. Alternatively, the quicker the sale, the more money you walk away with. See some startling statistics on the benefits of home staging on realestateagentu.com.

Starting off on the right foot is worth more than you may have thought. Sure, you may be able to sell your home “as-is”, but if you are hoping to get the highest value, putting in the extra effort prior to listing it is a must.

What can you do to quickly prepare your home for sale? Here are three things to tackle.

1.     De-clutter and Clean

De-cluttering and cleaning are two different things and they BOTH need to be done. Barbara Ballinger, author of several books on real estate, architecture and remodeling, warns “Many buyers equate clutter with messiness and disrepair, and they may quickly move on to the next listing.” If you want folks to know that your home is not going to be a headache or money pit for its next owners, make it shine! I know that you use your toothbrush every day but your buyers don’t want to see it. And sure, the dryer lint gets all over the top of the dryer. You have kids – of course there is stuff around! But trust me: Clear out the clutter, put things away, store extra stuff and clean (or hire house cleaners) before the first showing.

2.     Downsize and Organize

Step it up a notch! Do you want to really make an impression that will put your home ahead of the one down the street? Downsize and organize. Your stuff may be out of sight at first glance. But the minute a closet is opened (and closets will be opened), buyers might be concerned about a lack storage space. According to Realtor.com, “Even if your house is clean, having things crammed in every nook is a visual turnoff.” This is the time to pack up out-of-season items and extra decor for a while. Don’t overlook the furniture in this process. The more floor space that can be shown, the larger your home will look and feel.

3.     Odors and Fragrances: Yes or No?

How your house smells makes a visceral impression on home buyers. If they walk in and it smells like Mom’s apple pie, it can help them feel “at home” and make the house more attractive. If they smell cat, dog or last night’s fried chicken, it may be a turn-off. Many people are sensitive to odors. Even scents that you love might turn them off. While your home is on the market, avoid frying food, wearing strong perfume or lotion, and using strong-smelling cooking spices. Since you may be “noseblind” to the regular smells in your home, ask a friend, neighbor or your real estate agent to give you honest feedback about any odors they smell when they enter. A few drops of cinnamon, lavender or citrus essential oil can help.

Show buyers that your home is worth the value of your asking price and they will clamor to be the next owners!

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Kitchen Tips From a Chef

Food PrepProfessional Organizers have tips to streamline your daily activities and food prep in the kitchen.

Going a step farther, I wanted a few tips from a professional chef. Chefs know how to prepare beautiful and safe food. Cross-contamination and improper temperatures can mean the difference between life and death.

Chef Michael Sultan of Revolution Taco gave me four simple tips:

  1. Label, Label, Label

We know professional organizers love label makers; labeling food is an easy way to ensure you’re not eating expired food. When the health department goes into a commercial kitchen, one of the first things they look for are labels with dates. So why aren’t we doing this at home? Labeling is as simple as using masking tape and a Sharpie. When you return from the grocery store, write the date on your purchases. After making dinner, label leftovers with the name of the dish and date before putting in the fridge or freezer.

  1. First In, First Out

Once things are labeled properly, it will be easy to follow the “first in, first out” rule. First thing in the fridge should be the first thing out of the fridge.

If you pay attention to dates and plan meals accordingly, you will save food, money and space.

  1. Inventory

Everyone has food staples they stock in the fridge. Mine are garlic, onions, rice and tons of hot sauces. Others may have eggs, milk, lunch meat, cheese and yogurt. Whatever yours are, it can be helpful to keep an inventory sheet of must-have items. Restaurant owner, Mike explained, his menu generally stays the same aside from specials. He keeps an inventory of things he always needs on hand so any employee can order food.

Mike recommends typing and laminating the inventory, and posting it on the fridge. Keep a dry erase marker handy to mark your laminated Inventory Sheet. When someone uses the last drops of milk in their coffee, they can put a checkmark next to ‘milk.’ That way, whomever does the shopping knows what to get. Leave space at the bottom to add extra items, take a photo of your Inventory Sheet before running to the store and you’ll have a foolproof shopping list!

  1. Storage

Proper food storage is crucial to avoid cross-contamination and foodborne illness. If you only take away one thing from this post, remember to store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge. To prolong freshness, make sure raw meat is tightly sealed with as little air inside as possible. If you aren’t sure how tight the seal is, put it on a plate to avoid dripping and therefore contaminating other surfaces or food. Label and date packages so there is no guesswork on freshness.

I confess – the chef I interviewed is my boyfriend, Mike. Before I adopted some of his foodie chef habits, my fridge was the place food went to die. Now I have a clean, spacious fridge and save money because I am not tossing food I forgot to eat in time.

If you use these four chef-approved tips, you too can have a safe and streamlined kitchen!

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The Family Closet: A Growing Trend

Family ClosetIn some homes, guests are greeted by piles of clothing upon walking through the front door. More piles can pop up in other rooms. Typically this indicates that the family has too many clothes, poor laundry workflow processes or both.

Certainly purging clothes that are no longer needed, liked or fit well is a good practice. Establishing better use of space in dressers and closets, and better laundry processes, are also good practices. Have you considered having a family closet?

Family closets are exactly what they sound like—the entire family shares one closet. This is a growing trend because of the time it saves dressing, washing, putting away and storing clothes. It can even save time when packing for trips. There are as many ways to create a family closet as there are families – but here are some ideas that are frequently used:

  • The size of a family closet depends somewhat on how many family members are using it but 50-70 square feet is usually sufficient to accommodate families of eight or more members.
  • The closer the family closet is to the laundry room and/or the bathroom where bathing takes place, the better.
  • Each family member has one space where most of their clothes are kept. This space can be a basket, bin or shelf but the idea is that no one has more clothes than their space allows. One mother’s rule is that each of her four children have 10 shirts and 10 pairs of pants but no more.
  • Stackable drawers work well to hold smaller items such as socks and underwear. Some families who have children close in age put all the boys’ underwear in one drawer and all the girls’ underwear in another drawer. Socks can be treated the same way. No more separating for each family member!
  • Ideally a family closet is large enough to dress in. This allows clothes that are taken off to be put away if they’re not ready to be laundered yet or to be thrown in the appropriate laundry basket (whites, lights, darks, etc.) so there’s no need to sort laundry later.
  • Keep a folding table (in the folded position) in the family closet.
  • Searching “family closet” on YouTube will provide some great ideas.

Family closets solve many organizational problems.

  • Clothing doesn’t pile up in bedrooms because it never goes into bedrooms. Bedroom closets can now be used for games, books, toys and other purposes. Dressers aren’t needed and don’t take up valuable floor space.
  • Clothing comes out of the dryer and goes to only one place — the family closet. From there, the folding table comes out.  Clothes are folded and put away right away.
  • Boundaries are well defined so no family member accumulates more clothing than needed.

Think outside the box and consider a family closet (or at least some of the ideas) rather than continually fighting the Clothes Monster.

 

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