5 Products from the NAPO Conference 2012

The world abounds with organizing products. There are many products to choose from and the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) expo is a great place to discover and play with these tools. As usual, products need to meet your specific needs – not all tools will be useful for everyone. Consider your own needs and style when evaluating these or any organizing products.

I’ve chosen 5 products to briefly share with you; look in future months to see more in depth reviews.

1. WallMates: self-adhesive dry erase planning surfaces from At-A-Glance. These come in various sizes and formats. The entire back is adhesive and they claim they stick to everything. I saw them sticking them to a carpet-covered pedestal repeatedly without problems.

At-A-Glance's WallMate

At-A-Glance's WallMate's self-adhesive dry erase planning surface

2. M by Staples Arc system: customizable notebook system.
These are notebooks of 2 sizes with various accessories that you can easily rearrange and design for your personality and style. There’s a special punch you can purchase to let you use any paper inside the notebook – mushroom shaped for the “tear-out” pages which you can easily put back in anywhere.

M by Staples Arc system

M by Staples Arc system, customizable notebook

3. File Case and Case Wrap from Smead.
A box for keeping file folders that comes with a case wrap for storage. These can replace hanging folders and fit in most file drawers. They are also decorative enough you could store them on a shelf and with the case wrap it won’t even look like a filing system.

Smead's File Case and Case Wrap

File Case and Case Wrap from Smead

4. Mini-cube systems with fabric drawers from ClosetMaid.
You might be familiar with ClosetMaid cubeicals already – have you seen the mini-cube systems? There are currently 2 styles. There are fabric drawers to fit this mini-cube system with a wide variety of colors to choose from.

Mini-fabric drawer for a mini-cube system from ClosetMaid

Mini-fabric drawer for a mini-cube system from ClosetMaid

5. Various adhesive tools from 3M.
– We’re all familiar with Post-It’s and now there’s one with almost a full adhesive back. There are the familiar flags for marking pages.
– The filing tabs are interesting which can be written on and repositionable.
– There are some storage container label pads, even applying to canvas materials securely (as the advertising says).
– You’re probably familiar with the Command hooks as well. It seems quite late, but I saw demonstrated how the adhesive works – they used a Plexiglas sheet in order to see both side of the application and removal. If removed properly it shouldn’t leave any marks on the wall, no matter the material (they mentioned- with the possible exception of stucco walls). They’ve also got Command strips for poster strips and picture hanging. Those picture-hanging strips are fascinating from the non-Velcro connection that is quite strong.

Various adhseive products from 3M

Variety of adhseive products from 3M

These were by no means all the products that I played with during conference, simply ones I found worth sharing. I’m excited to get a chance to get some hands on experience using these products and then sharing what I find with you over the coming months.

Filertek Dry Erase Hanging File Tabs

4 out of 5 stars

Dry Erase Hanging File Tabs

Filotek Dry Erase Hanging File Tabs



  • reusable – as you can simply erase the label as often as needed
  • snap cover to protect your label
  • clear or color options
  • dry erase very effective
  • snaps easily onto hanging files
  • fits all hanging files
  • each package includes a dry erase pen



  • do stand taller that standard hanging file tabs
  • doesn’t hold paper inside well



Each year I head to the NAPO conference and end up discovering something new and interesting.  In 2011, one of the things discovered were the Filertek Dry Erase Hanging File Tabs.  Immediately I was fascinated with these, yet some products do not always stand up to their appearance.  These hanging file tabs have – they are exactly what they seem.

What strikes me most about these hanging file tabs is the complete ease of use.  They snap onto the top of all hanging files that I have tried – from the standard thick paper hanging folders to the newer plastic ones, which tend to be a bit thicker than the paper ones.  Since they snap on so easily, they’re easy to attach and dis-attach, which isn’t always the case with the usual plastic tabs for hanging files.

The dry erase feature works beautifully – the ink adheres precisely to the dry erase surface of the tab.  This is in stark contrast to the similar Peter Walsh’s product.  Since the tab has a built in cover, it’s safe from being smudged off.  One of the warnings I was told about was how if it sits for a long time with your label, you’d need to moisten the label to erase it (not unexpected since it’s dry erase).  Whether you purchase the 12 or the 50 pack of tabs, they include a dry erase pen to use with your file tabs.

From what I can tell, these file tabs will last you for your lifetime – they are sturdy and since they are dry erase, you can reuse them indefinitely.  There’s no need to worry about finding (or making) those paper strips to label in order to go inside the plastic file tabs.  Even the snap cover appears to be quite durable yet not difficult to work with.

They come in a variety or colors – you can choose the clear option or you can get assorted colors (4 colors and includes some clear).  Sometimes it’s nice to have some color choices while at other times you might not want the distraction of colors.

There are a couple of possible drawbacks, though I do see these as quite minimal.  First, they stand taller on the hanging files than typical plastic file tabs.  This could easily be something that’s an improvement since it makes them more visible.  In my experience, file drawers and most places you would attach hanging file tabs are not short on space.  This means that the added height of these would be unlikely to cause any difficulty.  Second, if you didn’t want to write on the tabs, but rather wanted to insert paper labels inside the snap cover – the paper slides out.  I didn’t explore this aspect much to test using thicker paper or anything since with the dry erase feature, I don’t see a point of trying to use paper.

The Filertek Dry Erase Hanging File Tabs are a wonderful alternative to the standard hanging file tabs.  They’re easier to use and are indefinitely reusable.  They come completely ready for you to use them – no need to worry about having a dry erase pen on hand, it’s included.  There are some choices, yet not too many – with size and color.  If you need or want an alternative to the typical file tabs – these are definitely worth considering.

My Notes on Organizing Craft Supplies

One day I was waiting to meet someone, I took out a little notebook and made notes – just based on my memory and thoughts about what things I would be dealing with.

Initially I spent time thinking about what I needed to be kept in the closet and room –  I knew I wanted to make room for my business stuff, then there was the paperwork for the volunteering I do, and of course all the craft items.  For me this included the completed photo albums, scrapbooks, old journals, as well as all the supplies for projects to come. From here, I decided to break it down – remember this is still just notes I am jotting down, brain storming.





Memorabilia – yearbooks, photo albums, scrapbooks, containers, pen pal notebooks

“Kid” – piano music, “diaries”


To read

To type

To fix/repair

To finish


After this one of the first things was I thought about was the supplies I had to deal with and get organized.  I began with just a list, things like the following:

Supplies – re-done with groups


Candle making

Cross-stitch & knitting


Color- chalk, pens, pencils, paint







General – cutting, glues, wire



Empty containers


Memorabilia (to do something with)

Tear outs to use somewhere

Journals – blank

Albums – blank

Scrapbook- blank

It became first, general supplies – things like paper, “color” (pens, pencils, paint, chalk), punches, beads, stickers, templates – that I could use across multiple mediums.  Then specific supplies, I have specific tools for making books (a remnant from my library science days), candle making, and “needle stuff” (which was my grouping for cross-stitching, a learn to knit kit, and some small other needle kits).  The specific tools ideally would live together as I wouldn’t want my candle making supplies to be mixed up with book binding supplies.

Supplies – Grouped











General flowers





“Needle” stuff






Blank books

Empty containers


This were my final notes, considering if this would be another approach which I did use partially.

Supplies by                ??

TYPE or                     CATEGORY

Paper                                      Wedding

Die-cuts                                  Kid

Stickers                                   Season

Embellishments                    Holiday


– or both for large quantities

–>then sub-divide & keep type close together

Cultivate Curiosity

In this line of work, I run into too many people who are busy “should-ing” on themselves – “I should have done more”, “I ought to have time for that”, “I never get enough done” and on and on.  And my heart breaks a little.  I get it, it does hit close to home for me too, yet this doesn’t help anyone get more accomplished.  Most often this can even derail our efforts to improve.  We’re too preoccupied feeling badly, angry, frustrated, whatever and this doesn’t move us any closer to our goals.  To some extent we become stuck.

“How do I get unstuck then?”

If we can cultivate curiosity about ourselves we can solve many of our struggles.  One of the key pieces of this though is that we need to rid ourselves of the judgment that comes along with looking at what we do and why.  Has there ever been a time when criticizing yourself has helped you get past a struggle or to solve a problem?

Instead, try to step back and examine what is causing your difficulties.  Sometimes this benefits from a compare and contrast – so if it’s a particular chore – what is different about this chore compared to another chore you accomplish with minimal challenge?  The answers you come up with could be a long list, as you want to consider as many different factors as possible: time of day, effort, energy, time consuming, complicated/simple, boring/interesting, dreaded/exciting, rewarding, etc.

Even if you cannot compare it to something else, you can examine what that thing brings up for you.  What is it about that thing that has you resisting it? When you start to get the clues for where your struggles are, you can then start making changes to how you approach that thing.

In trying to make this applicable to many situations, this is vague.  Therefore, let me give you an example.  I was often procrastinating mowing the lawn.  One of the major factors was the dread of lugging out of and back into the basement.  Another factor was feeling like it was extremely time consuming.  The first factor has now been dealt with as we have a garage, but until that happened, there wasn’t much I could do about it.  The second factor – time – I could discover how much time it actually took up, so I timed it.  From lugging it up, mowing the front and back yard, and lugging it back down, it took me 45 minutes.  From that point onward I could easily dismiss mowing as an option if I didn’t have that much time and could plan when I would have enough time.  I also began to stop procrastinating it as much, yes, I did qualify that, I will sometimes still procrastinate doing it, though it gets less and less as time goes on.

There are other chores I dislike because they seem dull, and I can take my iPad and play a show on it while I work or vacuum during commercials.  Obviously I don’t need to watch it intently, it’s a way to make the chores a little more interesting.  The point is that I’ve approached my quirks (my resistances) with curiosity, identified what factors contribute to my resistance to accomplishing them, and then found ways to lessen the resistance.  Even when I falter and don’t get it done when or how I would like, I work at giving myself a break.

Is there another way to look at the chore (or whatever you are struggling with)?  Much of our lives deal with perspectives – the way we decide to look at things.  Yes, it is a choice and this means we can change the way we view things.  Therefore we can decide to look at that dreaded chore differently.  This rarely happens overnight, but if we discover the reasons that matter to us as an individual, we can begin to make the changes.

For me, making the bed was one of these.  I didn’t care much if it was made or not and I struggled with wanting it to be near perfect if it were made.  This meant I spent time and energy walking back and forth around the bed fixing it.  Then I timed myself lying in bed doing a sort ‘snow angel’, slipping out from under the covers, and doing some minor straightening – under 2 minutes.  Then I started appreciating the made bed when it was time to go to bed at night.  I stopped looking at making the bed as a chore; rather it became something to look forward to – a nicely made bed –at the end of the day.

What is it about this situation that causes you difficulties?  Thinking about the answers for yourself can help lead you to the answers you need to make the necessary changes.  Don’t get me wrong, you might not find THE answer on the first try.  Nevertheless it will lead you toward the solutions you need.

Get curious.

Delaying Gratification

If you were told that you would get 2 marshmallows if you could wait for 15 minutes while 1 marshmallow was sitting in front of you – could you wait? What if you were between 4-6 years old? This was a study, called Stanford Marshmallow experiment, done in the late 1960s (of all the articles and blogs I read, the information varied a lot between all of them). This study has fascinated me from the first time I heard about it (Crucial Conversations- book & my blog), and somehow references to this study keep coming into my life.

The initial results were that about 30% of the children were able to wait the 15 minutes to receive the 2nd marshmallow; they weren’t told to not eat the first marshmallow, they could just with the consequences of not getting a second marshmallow. Yet, of the children who managed to wait, many years later were the ones who scored higher on their SATs and had longer lasting relationships – they had a higher resiliency than their peers who couldn’t stop themselves from eating the marshmallow before the 15 minutes were up.

What made the children who could wait different from those you didn’t? Often the children that resisted eating the marshmallow, found ways to distract themselves from the temptation sitting there – they looked at the ceiling and sang a song, cover their eyes, kicked the table, etc. – essentially not focusing on the marshmallow.

You might be able to glean then why these “long delayers” scored higher on their SATs and in general seemed to be more successful – they had the skills to put off pleasurable activities to accomplish things. They would be able to resist going to a party in order to stay in and study. Many people are talking about how this is self-control – and yes, it is, the self- control to delay gratification.

Every day we face temptations. How we respond to these are what matters – and now I tend to think about marshmallows. I don’t know that I would have managed to wait long enough to eat two of them as a child, yet this doesn’t mean I can’t stretch those self-control “muscles” now.

The scientists are continuing to study the original group and other studies on this also are active. There is some data to suggest that we can learn how to become “long-delayers” – and focus our attention away from the temptation and avoid giving in. I think this requires enough practice to have success – we need the positive reinforcement, even internally, to have the motivation to keep stretching that self-control muscle.

The marshmallow study is motivation for me – the idea pops up periodically and I then pause to consider what self-control might be applied. Sometimes it’s walking away from a tempting purchase for a period of time. Sometimes it’s putting things away before I sit down and relax. Sometimes it’s waiting for time to pass and see if the desire is real – like the temptation to eat. Sometimes it’s exercising when I don’t really feel like doing it – not procrastinating when it would be “easy.” In essence, I try to apply this to most areas of my life.

Can the marshmallow study be motivation for you too? How would you apply it to your own life and choices?

Office Max Portable Folding Cart


3 out of 5 stars

Office Max Folding Cart



  • large capacity for transporting things
  • wheels roll smoothly
  • can be condensed (when empty) to be compact
  • retractable handle
  • relatively inexpensive



  • awkward to move when not rolling i.e. when you need to pick it up
  • large and can get heavy when filled
  • pieces for holding the shape don’t attach the best, along the top
  • wheels are noisy (no sneaking up on anyone with this in tow!)



Once a month I volunteer for the CCFA (Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America) where I facilitate a support group.  I bring brochures and handouts/articles for the attendees to take as needed.  When I started, I loaded everything into a large bag.  I created a binder with tabbed pockets for the handouts.  My shoulder would ache after a meeting from lugging it around that day, and then the bag strap started to tear.  I knew I wanted something rolling to lug the papers around in – it would just make things easier.  I considered many options and decided on this portable folding cart from Office Max.

Let me be blunt, I liked the price – at $20.99 it was affordable, unlike the roller and catalog cases which most often were over $100.00.  The folding cart also inspired an idea about changing how I would organize the articles I brought to each meeting, which has turned out to be quite successful.  The size allows me to have 2 smaller desktop hanging file organizers inside the folding cart organizing the paperwork for the meetings (one of which is pictured here).

Desktop File Organizer - one style I bought to live inside the folding cart

The larger of the desktop hanging file organizers is pulled out completely for each meeting and then sits on the table (more fitting for it’s name than living inside the cart most of each month).  The size of the cart of the file organizer makes it relatively easy to pull out and put back in.  Since the size of the cart is large, I also have room for a smaller file organizer that holds the brochures and sign-in sheets, this is also easy to pull out and put away as necessary.

Here's my own folding cart

I was admittedly surprised by the noise of the wheels.  You definitely will not be able to sneak up on anyone, yet the wheels seem to work on every surface you’d likely encounter.  The handle retracts and extends as needed.  There is a slight flimsy feel to it, though I have encountered no problems in the 6 months I have been using it.

As soon as I had filled it, I knew there would some areas that it would bother me.  Our home has stairs at both entrances – which means I have to pick the whole cart up and carry it up or down those stairs. (Yes, I considered leaving it in the garage, but this isn’t feasible.)  Since the cart is large, it is bulky and not convenient for carrying around, even short distances.  This applies to lifting it into and out of the trunk of the car.  Once I accidentally caught one corner as I was putting it down and cracked the plastic.  Fortunately the cart still functions as it had before this accident.

Another aspect of needing to pick it up and carry it however briefly – is that it gets heavy when you have things inside it.  This is rather intuitive – of course it’s heavy when it’s loaded with stuff.  The other aspect is that there are these little pieces of plastic that you attach to 2 sides of the top to help keep the square shape.  They live close to the handles you use for picking the cart up.  They don’t attach the best – most every time I pick it up, I need to push these pieces back down (wondering when I will forget to do that and they will fall off, unnoticed).

Challenging to photograph - the little plastic piece(s) that attach to the frame on 2 sides

If you find yourself needing a portable folding cart, this is something to consider.  Although there are several aspects I struggle with, overall it is serving me well.  It continues to provide the benefits that matter most to me – portability and consistency.  It’s still working as well as it was over 6 months ago when it was brand new and considering the price – I am satisfied (not thrilled, yet how often can be thrilled by products?).

* There is a similar one offered by Office Depot as well.

** As usual, I have not received anything for this review.  🙂

Taylor Planner

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Small, portable size
  • Limited space for tasks
  • Week at a glance view
  • Perforated edges for easy marking of current week


  • Monthly view too compact
  • Limited space for planning outside of scheduled time slots


I discovered Harold Taylor at the NAPO conference last year, and came home with some questionnaires he developed to identify problem areas with organization and time management.  This year, I came home with one of his books and a sample of his planner. After using the PlannerPad, I moved to this Taylor Planner.  What better time of year to consider what you might need for next year?

One of the things that I absolutely love about this planner layout is the extremely limited space allotted for daily tasks.  I have often struggled with trying to do too much in a given day and I see this frequently with the people I work with as well.  We’re never satisfied with our accomplishments, “we should have done more.” With this planner, you choose the top 3 things you want to get done on a given day, which is written above the daily scheduling column.  It can help focus you on the most important tasks, then everything else you get done is a bonus.  You only had three things, you get those done, you’ve succeeded with your plans.

The weekly view of the Taylor Planner

There is an additional space in each column for any follow-up actions you need to attend to for a given day.  I used this more sporadically, as it applied to my life and tasks.  It’s good to have an additional space, yet limited space for something that arises.  He suggests using that to record when assignments are due.

On the left side of the two-page weekly layout is a column for that week’s priority, your weekly action items, and notes. It’s important to focus on your goals, and it’s great that he provides a small box to remind you on a weekly basis as well as cuing you to work toward your long-term goals.

There are different ways to approach your calendar.  As I talked about in the review of Getting Things Done, David Allen proposes that you schedule tasks into your calendar with caution.  Harold Taylor is of a different perspective, where you use your calendar to schedule all activities, providing the commitment as well as time to get them done.  Since this is just talked about in the beginning of the planner, I cannot tell to what extent he promotes this.  I know that for myself, if I schedule things that are not time sensitive or important, it’s too easy to still not work on those tasks and then feel the sense of failure at not accomplishing them!  Other than in the column to the far left for weekly action items, there is not much space for planning.

When I was strictly a paper planner person, I relied on the monthly calendar view.  This planner’s version of that is considerably too small for me.  The monthly view consists of 3 months on a page.  Yet, as I move to scheduling on my iPad, the monthly view no longer holds much value to me.  You need to evaluate what your priorities are in this regard.  This is the same layout for the future years, at the back of the planner.  I find the year at a glance intriguing while at the same time a little odd – each column is a month and the holidays are labeled.

The monthly view, with 3 months to a page

Year-at-a-glance on two pages















From my sensitivity to carrying around planners, I appreciate the compact size of this planner.  It is slightly larger than a standard trade paperback book and fairly thin; it will not contribute much weight to a purse or bag.  The version I have is bound, with some space for the binding to not interfere with entering the information you need to. Since it was a free copy, it’s just the planner itself, though offers a cover, with pockets for business cards and to carry post-it notes around with your planner.  Also, with the perforated lower corner, it’s easy to mark (tear it off) and find the current week.  Included with the planner are contact pages, several assignment record pages, notes, and a section for back burner ideas.

Getting Things Done

It has only been in the last year that I actually picked up and read David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  As I’ve mentioned before, my father was an avid follower of Franklin Covey – this is what I learned about how to structure time and productivity.  I’ve also seen how often Franklin Covey does not work for people – clients with binders never opened and frustration.  This is just another reason there is such a plethora of systems for people – one way doesn’t work for everyone.  David Allen doesn’t care what tools you use, he outlines his way of organizing your time and productivity.

A major component of David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach is the idea that if something will take you less than 2 minutes to accomplish – you do it now.  If it will take you longer than 2 minutes, you then evaluate where it needs to go: into a specific day/time in your calendar or into your organization system to do later (or to delegate it).  If you can successfully apply this, you cannot procrastinate those fast tasks and will in fact getting things done.  Also intrinsic to this system is the need to review your system at regular intervals from the daily to the Weekly Review.

There are 5 stages to mastering work-flow: collect, process, organize, review, and do.  One of the steps people gloss over is often the collecting – it can be hard to really collect all of your tasks, emptying your mind of everything and getting it down on paper (or electronically).  Our brains can only hold a certain amount of information at a given time – we need to have it collected somewhere concrete.  Processing is about deciding on the next action item, which I wrote about in “Decide on the Next Action.” Organize for him is where you add the action to your calendar or appropriate list.  Review is critical to any time management system; you need to stay aware of what is on the horizon.  Finally, do is for deciding on what you will tackle next.

One of the most intriguing aspects of what David Allen talks about is his “4 Criteria for Choosing Actions in the Moment.”  Many systems focus first and foremost on the priority of the task, not with Getting Things Done.  This applies only to those tasks that aren’t important enough to be in your calendar already.  His criteria are:

  1. Context
  2. Time available
  3. Energy available
  4. Priority

Context is an easy initial criterion since if the task requires a computer, but you are not near one, you cannot do it.  Time and energy available are self-explanatory, and do need to be evaluated before deciding on a task.  No matter how high the priority might be to work on ‘x’, if you do not have the time or energy, it’s better to wait until the initial 3 criteria are in place.  I think choosing your next action based on following these criteria could ease the stress I see people putting on themselves – the rational for why they need to wait.

Most productivity systems promote the importance of thinking beyond the immediate – Stephen Covey wants you to create a mission statement for your life; David Allen is no different, he talks about the six levels for reviewing: the runway or your current actions to 50,000+ feet or life.  David Allen clearly outlines what the six levels are and I find this more accessible than a mission statement.  Too often this is an area we neglect in our planning, yet is a worthwhile task in order to keep us in line with where we want to be.

Although this book was a bit dry, I appreciated many of his ideas.  It has flexibility built into it, with the idea that you don’t put things into your calendar that aren’t time sensitive.  I’ve been know to be one of those people who will put things into the calendar with the best of intentions and then to avoid it.  I’ve learned how important it is to keep the calendar a sacred space and now have another way to approach the other tasks – to consider the 4 criteria.

The key to any system you use to manage your time and productivity is to make time for reviewing.  It’s likely most of us fall off our systems from time to time – I know I do – but we need to be able to get back on the system.  David Allen lays out the steps to hopping back onto it and makes it easier to do so.

Planner Pad Organizers

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Planner Pad organizer



  • money back guarantee (6 month)
  • nice layout – monthly & weekly
  • good division of schedule & to-do lists
  • focuses on a “funnel down” prioritizing


  • size constraints
  • spiral or binder in middle of weekly view; can get in way of writing things



When I was in high school, my father insisted I start using the Franklin Covey organizers.  I continued to use these organizers through college and for many years after.  It wasn’t until my shoulder and back started giving me troubles that I began to reconsider what I wanted to use – I always carried a purse big enough to hold the classic size organizer.  Although this was the breaking point for me, I was struggling with the system – it was no longer as helpful.

From other professional organizers, I heard about Planner Pads and was definitely intrigued with their layout.  I even set up a spreadsheet that replicated their design; I was still too frugal to order one.  This turned out to be a good decision since I won a Planner Pad in a contest – and have had the chance to actively use the executive spiral organizer.  This organizer has a monthly view as well as a weekly view.  I’ve come to value the weekly view – it provides a great way to review your week and track your tasks and appointments.

funnel planning for the week with the Planner Pad

Planner Pad funnel planning

One of the things I like about this particular organizer is the layout – the top section, spanning the two pages of the weekly view – is for you to list your categories of projects or type of activities.  For me these were things like: Business-usual, Business-client, Business-other, Household, Volunteering, Personal.  I could then identify my priorities and tasks according to these categories – not worrying about putting them into specific days.  One of the strengths of this area is the limited amount of space – the thing I see most often, even with myself, is thinking and trying to do more than what is realistic – so this helps to control that inclination. 🙂

Top section of the weekly view of the Planner Pad

The second section, below the first section, has the days of the week for your daily to-dos. This is where you can put in the tasks you absolutely must do on specific days.  I also would record what I did from the above section on the corresponding day.  I appreciate the openness since I sometimes feel limited by trying to decide when I will do certain things.  It’s also easy to see how I am coming with my tasks as the week progresses.

Middle section of daily to-dos of the Planner Pad

The final section is for your appointments – with the executive size, showing time from 7 until 9 with lines for the hour.  Ideally, you want to use this area for the time specific appointments – whether meeting with someone or time chunks for dealing with tasks.

Bottom section of scheduling for the Planner Pad

Along the right side is a column they’ve divided for “Notes/Calls” and “Expenses” as well as 3 small month views for the prior, current, and future month.  There are also pages in the front and back of the organizer for some of the more typical things you’d like to have with you – address book, future year planning, notes, and goals/projects/calendar.  The pages throughout the planner have a dotted line along the upper page corners, which I would cut off to help me get the pages I needed more easily.

If I were to purchase one at this point, I would lean towards the smaller, personal size. I do have concerns that it would be too small to be as useful.  I also would prefer the spiral, as the binder lends itself to the temptation for overfilling.  It then can become heavy and cumbersome.  The spiral occasionally makes writing in things near it more challenging – not enough that I would not use it.

Although my primary calendar is electronic, I find it useful to have a physical list of my current activities, even including calendar events.  An organizer is meant for planning – this is extremely challenging to do with a digital device.  I haven’t yet decided whether I want to carry around a paper organizer, although I’m seriously considering it.  Next month, I will be reviewing another planner system.Continue reading

Another Answer About Professional Organizers

I was talking with another organizer in our state and she mentioned that there is an organizer in her area, offering services for less than half of her hourly rate.  We, as organizers, do not talk to each other about what we charge.  Although I was in a similar situation early in my career – I spoke with a possible client who wanted some additional services I didn’t provide.  I shared the name of an organizer I knew of who would provide those services.  When I made my follow-up call with this possible client, she shared that the other organizer was offering her services at about half of what I charge.  This was disappointing as this was another NAPO organizer.

So, why do professional organizers charge what they do?  It’s not about wanting to prove that they have expertise.  It’s not that they want to become rich.  It’s about the technical business side of things.

First and foremost, this rate is before taxes.  Professional organizers, like other independent business people, have to pay their own taxes – and this means that they are earning a fraction of what you are paying them.  This is true as long as they are functioning as a legitimate business.  When you think about what their rate is, do you consider what your mechanic’s hourly rate is? Or your doctor’s? Or other professional people you deal with?

Second, when you are running an actual business you have other costs – like insurance and bonding.  There are fees for being registered with the state and then the membership fees for organizations that educate and support the organizer.  In all my years in business, I have only had one client ask if I was insured (that was a lawyer), although I’ve mentioned it to a few clients.  Insurance and bonding protect both the organizer and the client from any unpleasant accidents. Unfortunately, I know that there are NAPO organizers who do not carry insurance or bonding for themselves and their clients.  Maybe this is the reason they might charge significantly less.

Third, there are other expenses. Websites cost money, both to register and maintain – and in this day and time – a website is critical. Personally, I want to always expand my expertise and learn more – hence why I attend the national NAPO conference, read books, and listen to teleclasses and webinars.  Since professional organizers travel to the client, their car needs gas and maintenance.  These costs serve the client as well.

I had a client once who asked this question – and I shared these answers with her.  Her response was that I should charge more since it is hard work.  It’s not hard work to me, I love what I do, and the amazing people I get to meet and work with.  I’ve even surprised myself by enjoying the business side of running an organizing business.  What’s unfortunate is how not many people realize what goes into setting one’s price – whether you are a professional organizer or some other independent business.