Earth Day Special: On Environmentally Conscious Organizing

by Debra Baida, Liberated Spaces, San Francisco (blogging at
NAPO ECO Special Interest Group leader and NAPO Golden Circle member

A famous amphibial puppet speaking of the color of his felt famously sang, “It’s not easy bein’ green; It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.” “Green” has seeped into so many things – far too many – that the word has been overused to the point of being meaningless. This is precisely why, two years ago, a group of professional organizers decided to redefine their specialty from green organizing to the more ecologically- and holistically-infused environmentally-conscious organizing.

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Image courtesy of Rawich/

Steeped in the traditions of voluntary simplicity and sustainable living, this work stems from the values and ethics associated with helping others adapt simple lifestyle changes that support them wherever they are on the environmentally-conscious path. It’s about building awareness and engaging in dialogues to guide clients to a place where they can observe and effect change in the choices they are making each and every day.

Most of us are already working to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible, and environmentally-conscious organizers encourage these practices and more. What will create more impactful and lasting change is exceeding these foundational R’s and allowing ourselves to go deeper.

Take, for example, the multi-faceted practice of reducing. Choosing the path of less packaging reduces the need to recycle or throw away resources. This is especially powerful when you consider that 25% of landfill contents in the U.S. is product packaging. By reducing consumption of single-use disposable plastics (i.e. packaged and bottled water), we reduce the need for more fossil fuels while reducing the risk to ecosystems from oil drilling and transport of these resources. Reducing the need to store cases of plastic bottles creates more physical space while having the added health benefit of reducing your family’s exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor found in certain plastics. The effects of our choices can be cascading.

When we begin to make time and allow ourselves to rethink our choices, refuse what we don’t need, repair what needs fixing, and let food waste rot into nutritious compost, we’re moving closer to what’s most important in our lives. That’s often the end goal of organizing for many of our clients: creating the time and space to do what matters most.

Each of us has the power, through small acts each day, to make ripples of change in the places where we will see and feel those shifts most directly – in our homes and communities. As Kendra Pierre-Louis wrote in her book, Green Washed, Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet, “…consciousness is a starting point, not an end point.” As we stand on the precipice of Earth Day 2014 (April 22), where are you going to start? Hint: It takes one small step.

Open-Storage Kitchens: Pretty, but Practical?

Photo by: Jean-Francois Jaussaud/Luxproductions

An article about hyper-organized kitchen designs recently appeared on Yahoo!, and the display storage trend (open shelving, glass-front cabinets or hanging storage) has been around for a few years.  While the rooms are beautifully orderly and provide some clever storage ideas in the photos, is it possible to maintain such a high level of exposed organizing under real-life conditions?  Tell us what you think in the comments!


Disorder at Work Can Make You More Creative? What the What?

Image from article - The Psychology of Messiness: How Disorder Can Make You More Creative

There has been substantial anecdotal evidence (as well as many studies) to support the claim that clutter causes stress. How many times have you been working on too many projects at once, and had to stop, if only for a few minutes, to restore some order to your desk so you could get your mind out of neutral and think clearly?  Well, according to Kathleen Vohs, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota with an extensive psychology background, we’ve had it all wrong–messiness and clutter at work apparently can increase creativity.

A writer from Inc. magazine contacted NAPO HQ earlier this week to get our take on this controversial concept, and our own Kate Brown took the study to task and explains in the resulting article, “The Psychology of Messiness: How Disorder Can Make You More Creative,”  how professional organizers and productivity specialists recommend appropriate solutions to achieve each client’s vision, and that job responsibilities often impact organizing needs as much as personal preference.

What do you think–does a cluttered work environment increase or decrease creativity?  Tell us about it in the comments!


Organizing with the environment in mind – April is Earth Month!

Earth Month

As nature awakens from its winter’s nap, our thoughts turn to change and renewal. April is Earth Month and National Recycling Month, so it seems like the perfect time to offer up our best tips for organizing with the earth in mind. Check out our pros’ favorite tips and resources for reusing, recycling and being kind to the planet we all call home!


10 Top Technology Tools to Help Manage Your Time

There are all kinds of apps and technologies out there designed to help you manage your time efficiently, but with all the choices available, you can easily waste valuable time deciding which ones are actually worth using. The folks at Men’s Journal recently tapped one of NAPO’s organizing and productivity specialists to weigh in on the best tools for all kinds of time management needs. Click the image below to see which ones made the Top 10.

10 time management apps that will extend your life

Daniel Grizelj / Getty Images



It’s Clutter Awareness Week! Expert advice on how to conquer the chaos

If you’ve been ignoring clutter in your home or office, this is the week to take off the blinders and regain control of your space.  Clutter wastes time, wastes money, and causes stress, so in honor of Clutter Awareness Week, do something good for your health and well-being and tackle that chaotic cabinet, messy desk, or cramped closet so the next time you look at it, you don’t say, “Ugh–I’ve really got to do something about that!”  To help you get started, here are three articles featuring advice on restoring and maintaining order from NAPO organizing experts.

Experts suggest road map to cleaning the clutter - article

Experts suggest road map to cleaning the clutter

Clutter got you down? Here's how to get organized - article

Clutter got you down? Here’s how to get organized

New habits can declutter lives - article

New habits can declutter lives

Need customized guidance or hands-on help?  Find an organizer in your area.

Organizing Tips to Make Tax Time Easier

income tax prep

Tax prep season is in full swing, and it’s time to gather your financial documents so you can file your returns. If you spend way too much time trying to find receipts, bills, statements, digital documents and other critical information and you’ve said to yourself, “there’s got to be a better way,” you’ve come to the right place. Our organizing and productivity experts share their best advice for organizing your paper and electronic financial information to make tax time, well, less taxing.

Win a “fresh start” for your closet! – Presented by EasyClosets

Official Sponsor of GO Month 2014

EasyClosets Fresh Start Sweeps image

Our friends at EasyClosets are giving away a $2,000 custom closet system to help a lucky winner get 2014 off to a fresh start. Know someone who would love a closet makeover? Let them know about the EasyClosets Fresh Start Sweepstakes! Click the image for details and to enter; sweepstakes ends 2/28/14.

Office Productivity Tips – Presented by Smead

Official Sponsor of GO Month 2014

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This office productivity tip comes from a Smead podcast interview with Certified Professional Organizer and NAPO Member Lori Krolik.

Avoid checking your email the first thing in the morning.  Before you know it, an hour or more is already lost in your day if you check your email right away.  Schedule times to check it throughout the day versus answering each email as it comes in.  This will increase productivity and will avoid constant distractions throughout your day.