Wednesday, May 07, 2008

NAPO’s 20th Conference

I spent the second week of April in Reno, Nevada at the annual National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) conference. I returned with both my heart and brain totally full!

To meet so many people who are dedicated to helping others lead simpler, more fulfilling lives is awe inspiring. It was especially exciting to meet some of the legacies of the organizing business, including Barbara Hemphill (author of The Paper Tiger) and Laura Leist (author of Eliminate Chaos).

Peter Walsh, renowned organizer from TLC’s Clean Sweep and the Oprah Show, delivered the opening keynote address “Organizers – Visionaries for Change.” His address expanded on one of the maxims of professional organizing: “It’s not about the stuff.” Walsh believes that organizers can help people move beyond the emotional weight of their clutter to live a life in accordance with their priorities and goals. Although organizers often work individually with people, the cumulative effect of the organizing profession has the potential to be world changing in Walsh’s estimation. It was a talk that filled my heart with joy.

Learning additional skills to deal with the clutter definitely filled my brain. I spent an entire day learning about a filing product called FreedomFiler® (www.freedomfiler.com). Seth Odam, the creator of this product, has looked at our paper stacks in a new way. He has developed a simpler way of filing that greatly reduces the maintenance. In fact, it is a self-purging system. The documentation is kept with the files – pretty much eliminating the questions: “Uh-oh where does this get filed?” and “Where did I file that paper?” I am so impressed with this product that I am in the process of becoming a certified consultant for FreedomFiler®.

As I have stated in the past, tools will not make you organized but they can simplify the process. Some of the new organizing tools that I saw at the conference were the Jakoter® Health Organizer (www.jakoter.com), the Tote Trac (www.totetrac.com), Accountable Kids® (www.accountablekids.com) and Neat Receipts™ (www.neatreceipts.com).

The Jakoter® Health Organizer is a three-ring binder system for sorting and organizing all of your health information. This product makes it much easier for you or a family member to be your health advocate. Advocacy is essential to obtaining appropriate and timely health care in a health care system that is overburdened. Jakoter® offers many other great health organizing products as well. I think this is one niche in the organizing profession that will see tremendous growth as we Baby Boomers age.

Garage organizing is not my forte, but I really liked the Tote Trac system for its simplicity and versatility. Tote Trac stores your bins on your garage ceiling or walls in such a way that they are easily accessible. It accommodates any kind of bin and it eliminates stacking (less lifting!). Each set of tracks holds three to four bins and up to 400 pounds.

Accountable Kids® is a new program for encouraging kids to do their chores, their homework, and generally develop good habits. Since I’m a mom, and I also organize children I am always on the lookout for fun and effective tools. If it’s not fun for the child it will not work. The Accountable Kids® kit comes with a pegboard, reminder cards, reward tickets, and many other tools to reward good behavior. The book and DVD included in the kit make it easy for parents to learn the program.

Neat Receipts™ actually is not new. It is a portable scanner that scans receipts, analyses them, and uses the information to interface with Quicken or QuickBooks. What is new is that it now works with Apple. Yoo-hoo! No more manual entry! Since last year the Neat Receipts company has also released Neat Business Cards™ which scans business cards, analyses them and populates your contact data base.

One of the new services premiered at the conference is Organizing Connection (www.organizingconnection.com), which offers organizing videos on demand for just about every aspect of organizing. I had my two minutes of fame when I was taped for a video on how to use a student planner. Check out the site’s basic organizing video – it’s a fun way to learn the basic steps.

There were so many wonderful events at the NAPO conference that I could not possible include them all here. I am grateful for the tools and education that NAPO provides for us. We are better organizers for them, and we are more prepared to impart positive changes that leave the world a better place.
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