The Great Race
Finishing the race, even when you can’t see the finish line
My husband and three children are cross country runners. In the past 20 years, I have attended over 100 races, from diaper dashes to full marathons. In preparation for these races, my family of runners utilized a full arsenal of strategies including interval training, sprints, hill workouts, tempo runs, repeats, and long runs. The beauty of a cross country race is that you can train for the distance and you know exactly where the finish line is.
One of the challenges of life is that sometimes we cannot see the finish line. We may be motivated to start the race – the project, the job, the task – but without a clear and designated endpoint, we sometimes lose our interest, our nerve, and our motivation. Some of the races we run are caring for an elderly parent or an ill child. For some, the race may be a large and overwhelming home project. For others, the race may be a fitness challenge – losing 10 lbs., biking 50 miles, or hiking Kilimanjaro. In of midst of these personal races, we are all slogging through the pandemic, wondering when (and if) it will ever end. Without the finish line in our sites, how can we continue to move forward?
Here are three ideas for finishing strong and staying motivated even when the end is not in sight:
1) Focus on the short-term goal.
In 2019, I had the opportunity to chat with Olympic marathon runner, Jared Ward. A professor at my alma mater, Jared told me that when it comes to goal setting, he does not look at the long-term goals because they seem too daunting and overwhelming. Jared only focuses on one or two short-term goals such as having a good workout, passing the runner ahead of him, or hitting his PR in his upcoming race. With this short-term focus, Jared reduces stress and overwhelm and only focuses on what he reasonably can accomplish. If we take this strategy and focus on what we can do today and tomorrow, we will reduce stress and overwhelm.
2) A strong core.
About 15 years ago, I met another marathon runner, Meb Keflezighi, an Olympic silver medalist. Meb was hosting an annual Fourth of July race in Mammoth Lakes, CA where my family vacations. After this race, we asked Meb the secret to being a great runner. Meb said that to be a successful distance runner, you need to have a strong core as all physical strength emanates from this area. Are our physical, mental, and emotional cores sufficiently strong? If we are going to be successful in our personal distance races, we need to do those things that foundationally give us strength. For some, this personal strength might come from physical fitness or nutritional eating, for others it might be spiritual devotionals, and for others, it might be daily journaling. Our success in completing our personal races will rely, in part, on having a strong core.
3) Joy in the journey.
Sometimes we are so focused on the finish line that we forget to enjoy the journey. As a young mother, I used to hear other young mothers say things like, “I can’t wait until my kids are in school” or “I can’t wait until my kids leave for college.” As a mother of three, I understood the sentiment behind this perspective. But we must remember is that there is beauty in the passing of our life adventure. During a recent bike ride, I saw 5 deer crossing a berm. During another ride, I saw two armadillos. During a particularly challenging ride, I witnessed a breath-taking sunrise. Had I not looked up, I would have missed these incredible vistas and the inspiration derived from the experience.
As we pursue our personal races, especially the races where the finish line is not in sight, I hope we can all find the motivation to move forward and enjoy the journey!
Wishing you health and safety. If you have any questions or concerns, my door is always open!
President, NAPO Houston Chapter
I hope you are all well, safe, and healthy!
Thank you for your recent response to the NAPO Houston Annual Survey. We will be using the results of this survey as a guide to planning a rich and full program for each of you, our NAPO Houston family.
Our membership with NAPO Houston provides many benefits. Some of these are:
- NAPO-Houston’s high Google ranking when people search for “professional organizers Houston.” This takes potential clients to our Find An Organizer search.
- Inclusion in our Find An Organizer search where potential clients can find you…their new Professional Organizer or Productivity Consultant.
- Social Media mentions in our weekly Member Spotlight and when you provide NAPO-Houston blog posts, and Facebook posts.
- Use of the NAPO-Houston Logo on your website, social media platforms, and stationery.
- Members Only access to new industry ideas, products, information, events and more!
- Organizing Resource Library with access to more than ten years of NAPO National Conference recordings.
- Professional Development during our chapter meetings and special training workshops.
- Chapter Message Board to easily tap into the amazing knowledge base of NAPO-Houston members.
- Neighborhood Groups connect and build relationships with other NAPO-Houston members in your area.
- Quarterly Special Events provide opportunities to give back to our community, showcase your organizing skills, and have fun with other NAPO-Houston members.
- Leadership and Volunteer Opportunities through our Board of Directors, regional conference planning, and special committees.
- Network with Other Organizers at chapter meetings, volunteer events, workshops, and neighborhood group meetings.
In addition to local benefits, we have an abundance of resources through NAPO National. NAPO National recently held their annual Strategic Board Meeting and constructed several new initiatives that will benefit both our chapter as well as you individually. I have summarized these NAPO National 2020-2021 Strategic Initiatives, as follows:
- Strengthen the foundation of high-quality education program through restructuring and following accreditation standards.
- Expand recruitment activities across all channels to attract and convert new members to the NAPO community.
- Continue the integration of productivity into NAPO operations and programs and begin to develop and deliver unique benefits.
- Identify how to build the core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion into our association, as well as implement opportunities and model these values as we advance our mission.
- Explore the structure of NAPO Chapters to find new and better ways to serve and educate leadership and members on the local level.
To learn more about the NAPO National 2020-2021 Strategic Initiatives, click here.
We are so glad that you all are a part of our NAPO family! If you have any questions, concerns or ideas, my (virtual) door is always open!
President, NAPO Houston
P.S. If you are interested in volunteering for NAPO Houston, email Lisa Hettinger.
Chapter News & Events
Upcoming Meetings Schedule
September 3 – Chapter Meeting 6-8 pm, Speaker Jen Gaudet, Author and Business Coach
October 1 – Chapter Meeting* 6-8 pm, Speaker TBD
November 5 – Chapter Meeting 6-8 pm, Speaker TBD
December 3 – Holiday Member Party
If you need additional information, contact Kerry Spencer, Professional Development Director.
*The Board made the decision to postpone the Vendor Fair, to its regular schedule in the Spring–May 6, 2021, when we can make new connections with both vendors and Business Partners in person!
August 6 Social – Meeting Summary
Lisa Hettinger hosted a Virtual Happy Hour for current members on Thursday, August 6, from 5:30-7 pm. Each person shared in turn a personal or professional “Rose and a Thorn” story. We were happy to get better acquainted with 17 of our members, including our newest 2 members!
Typically during the Summer we have a Chapter Field Trip hosted by one of our Business Partners, in August, and in July we offer a member social activity. We hope to see you next month, as we return to educational programming for the Fall! Check out our Meetings & Events Calendar for details coming soon.
Connect With Members in Your Neighborhood
Neighborhood Group Meetings (NGM)
Meet with local organizers and business partners in a more intimate setting. Develop relationships with your fellow members and gain professional insights. Open to Members and Business Partners only. RSVP in the Events tab of the Facebook NAPO Houston Member Forum. Mark your calendars with these upcoming NGM dates.
August 17 @ 7pm
September 14 @ 7pm
October 12 @ 7pm
November 16 @ 7pm
December 14 @ 7pm
Inner Loop/Memorial NGM
August 20 @ 7pm
September 17 @ 7pm
October 15 @ 7pm
November 19 @ 7pm
Coffee and Convo
Want to learn more about NAPO Houston and the Professional Organizer industry? This monthly get-together is the perfect opportunity to mingle with new and veteran organizers. Open to members and non-members. Dates and information on the NAPO Houston Calendar.
September 8: Virtual, 7:00 – 8:00 am
October 13: Virtual, 7:00 – 8:00 am
November 10: TBD
December 8: TBD
Meeting ID: 850 3789 8480
If you need additional information, contact Stephanie King, Membership Director.
Congratulations to our members who have earned Specialist Certificates!
Marie Marchand: Household Management Specialist
Marie Marchand: Team Productivity Specialist
Nikki Bell: Household Management Specialist
Nikki Bell: Residential Organizing Specialist
Blanka Molnar: Residential Organizing Specialist
Welcome to our New Business Partners!
We are thrilled to welcome three new companies to the NAPO Houston Chapter this Summer:
Stone Coverings of Houston, Julie Leach, Sales & Ana Fernandez, Owner
Family-owned Remodeling Contractor and Countertop Fabricator.
Zen Business, Ross Buhrdorf, Owner
Known for low prices, easy online LLC formation process, and extra business services, like website creation.
CallBox Storage Houston, Aimee Rorick
Concierge Storage Services serving Houston, Dallas, Austin, Phoenix and Seattle.
Get the most out of our Find An Organizer search! Make sure your Member Profile is updated, including your work zip code, work area radius, and geographic area sections are filled out.
Business Partner Spotlight
Meet Sandra Medrano, owner of Bookkeeping and Beyond (aka BKBY)…experienced accounting professional, QuickBooks Online Certified Pro-Advisor, and professional organizer.
Prior to creating her own company, Sandra spent 20+ years in corporate management in a variety of industries. As Controller, Sandra enjoyed creating solid accounting foundations and processes for her employers.
It was during this time in the corporate world that Sandra discovered her passion for organization. She learned that she loved putting things in order and maximizing efficiency—and that there was no better opportunity to do this than by managing a companies’ financial records through bookkeeping. In 2013, she established Bookkeeping and Beyond—and her many years of experience enables her to serve a variety of client types today.
She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Houston and an Associate’s Degree in Accounting from HCC, and is QuickBooks-certified.
We are very fortunate at NAPO Houston to have Bookkeeping and Beyond handling the bookkeeping for our Chapter!
A sampling of services offered by Bookkeeping and Beyond:
Business Management Support
Business and Personal Bookkeeping
QuickBooks Conversions, Setup, Cleanup and Training
Professional Organizing for Home and Office
NAPO Houston Member – since 2017
We love our NAPO Houston Business Partners!
If you know someone who would be a great business partner, contact
Michelle Smithpeter, Business Partner Director.
Submit a Blog
Publishing a blog on our NAPO Houston website is a great way for Members and Business Partners to gain exposure and showcase their expertise! First review the blog guidelines in NAPO POINT > Houston Community > Library (or website Member Area Library). Then email firstname.lastname@example.org with your article, a profile picture and a brief biography of you and your business. Each month we reserve a spot to promote member articles, but we do not consistently receive content.
Connect on Social Media
NAPO Houston is on Facebook. We also host a Facebook Member Forum. We are always looking for content to promote and would love to share your inspiration and tips! Please email Ann Zanon to submit your content.
Listen to NAPO National Podcasts
NAPO produces monthly Stand Out podcasts about the Organizing and Productivity profession. In addition to listening and learning, you can apply to be a featured guest. Learn more at NapoPodcast.com.
Organizing your files today? Or would you rather watch paint dry on a wall? It seems that this is not the most exciting topic however it can be one of the most necessary in everyday life and in emergencies. Simplifying your filing and paper files includes knowing what’s holding you back as well as knowing what to keep. Build your simple filing system with your strengths in mind. Here’s how to simplify your paper files.
Assess what’s holding you back
What is filing for? Here’s the first step to get clear. Files are your reference section to keep information to be used in the next year or so. It’s not necessary to keep every piece of paper that comes into your home or business, especially if it’s not useful for you. Be ruthless when it comes to keeping what you need now, knowing you can use the internet, friends’ references, or other ways to get information instead of keeping extra paper.
What do you need to keep and how long? On Oprah.com, Julie Morgenstern has an extensive list. Print this to keep as a reference while filing. However, that’s not generally what’s causing a filing problem. Instead, it’s the articles on parenting, decorating, landscaping or other hobbies that keep holding us back. Remember, that’s what the internet, Pinterest, blogs, podcasts, and Google are for when we are ready to get started on a project.
Simplifying your system
What’s the best system? The best system for you is the simplest way to move paper into a system. It’s also the best system for you to know where to retrieve the paper. Categories are often the context that’s easiest to use in creating files. Whether there are for file folders, hanging files, notebooks or digital notebooks, using general, broad categories helps us file and retrieve.
For homes, these are the general categories I suggest:
- House and Auto
- Auto purchase
- Home Major Purchases
- Home Repair/Maintenance
- House inventory
- Financial (anything to do with money)
- Credit Cards
- Property Taxes
- Life Insurance
- Personal (anything to do with people or pets)
- Medical Benefits
- Medical History
- Medical Explanation of Benefits
- Medical Paid bills
- (Interests such as parenting, decorating, guns, etc.)
- Work history
- CV or resume
For office files, here are categories I include:
- HR or Employees
- Financials 20XX
Use hanging files for the broad categories and file folders for the subcategories. Use naming conventions, where the file names are created in a parallel way, in order to stay consistent and find documents.
Tax records for each year, legal documents such as purchase or sale of property, and final loan payments are should be kept permanently. While you only need to keep tax preparation documents for seven years, please consult your own lawyer or accountant to be sure. It’s best to annually when you are preparing for tax time in the spring.
- I typically keep mementos and keepsakes in a box, one box per person, in the closet of that person. A one box per person system also helps you limit keepsakes.
- Important documents are generally kept in a safe or safe deposit box. Here’s a list of important documents. It’s critical to keep these up to date each year. While you are archiving during tax time, update your important documents too.
Paper can be overwhelming and it’s always coming in. Always keep in mind the document’s value in terms of “shelf life.” How long will this information be “good” is a relative value and you may be able to find information more easily on the internet or elsewhere.
About Ellen Delap of Professional-Organizer.com
Certified Professional Organizer Ellen Delap launched Professional-Organizer.com in 2000 in Houston, Texas. Ellen works one on one with clients, streamlining their environment, creating effective strategies for an organized lifestyle and helping clients realize their organization and productivity goals. She holds specialist certificates in ADD, Chronic Disorganization, Life Transitions and Work Place Productivity and completed the Coach Approach curriculum. Ellen works primarily with ADHD individuals in Houston and virtually throughout the United States. She is President of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO).
Certified Professional Organizer Ellen Delap
Enter, the memory box! This is simply a file box with files for each year of the child’s life. This is where you can store their beautiful masterpieces, awards, special notes from friends and teachers, end of year report cards, etc.
Here are my tips for keeping it under control:
- ️Limit yourself to what can fit in this box. There is a folder for each year. There is no need to keep more than that. Trust me, when your child is 30, they won’t want or need more than what can fit in this box!
- ️Only keep your FAVORITE pieces or those that are of particular importance to your child. If you have a child who has a hard time parting with papers, give them a display area in the home. The fridge, a cork board, etc. Let them display their works and when it fills up, let them decide what goes in the box and what goes away. You can also try limiting them to a specific number of items for each school year.
- ️Only keep the end of year report card. It contains the same information as the quarterly report cards and progress reports on one sheet.
- ️Before placing an item in the box, make sure it has their name and grade on the back. If the box ever gets knocked over or out of order, you can easily fix it.
- ️If possible, place the box in an easily accessible place and leave the lid off. This will make it easy to drop papers in as they come home.
I would love to hear how this works out for you!
She is a member of The Inspired Organizer Network and the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals
Charming Spaces serves clients in the greater Houston and surrounding areas.
I personally moved in early September (resettled in Houston after 13 years away!). Moving into my place made me feel like a home owner as I YouTubed so many “how to’s”, ruined multiple outfits from painting, became addicted to home repair shows, and maxed out my credit card at Home Depot (FYI: those last two statements are false). But I did have a few freak out moments when I had to figure out how to seal out all the bugs and drafts from my super cute (but still a garage) apartment. Some fun issues I had to solve:
- The Queen box spring wouldn’t fit up the steep staircase. Took the door off, tried every angle possible. Refused to budge that last inch. So, what did we do? YouTube’d how to saw it in half! It was actually easier than anticipated and the feeling of folding it (hamburger style) and easily walking up the stairs (after struggling for so long to force it) provided giddy relief. (The springs easily folded back into original shape when we unfolded the box spring and nailed the three cut boards back to the frame). #success
- The front door didn’t have a frame. It’s open to the outside wood and garage wood. On the left is a tapered 4-2 inches, the right about 1 inch, and the top an even 4 inches. Can I just say one word? Cobwebs. *shudder* Light shining through from the outside…which meant bugs. Lizards. Dust. When I actually saw this (…and how did I not SEE this on the first two visits?!), I panicked. Sleeping that first night was a dismal experience as I felt creepy crawly things all over me (and yes, that first move in day, we found multiple spiders). So, my wonderful parents brought some wood and tools from my brothers (thanks T&R), and we (okay, they, I just held the wood as it was being sawed) added insulation, then built a door frame. Then I caulked the gaps and painted. Oh, it looks so good (and no room for spiders to sneak in!). #happiness
- Also sealed and painted the baseboards white as well as the stairs. #perkmeup
- A/C window unit. I’ve never experienced one of these. It’s loud. I wondered about the cost of it running 24/7 (turns out, around $20-$30 each month…*high five to savings*). There are gaps where the accordion thing connects to the unit. Guess what? I sealed those too!. After a week, I was able to tune out the racket, but I am excited for these cooler nights when I can open a widow for air and have peace and quiet. #freshair
- Gas leak. I had the gas turned on 6 days after move-in (because you have to be here 8am-8pm). So, when the gas people arrived, they checked everything in my apt, then went downstairs to the garage. There’s a gas leak, they’ll have to call in a crew from CenterPoint. Crew arrived. Bigger than they can handle, need another crew. So, after about 4 hours, my leak was fixed. Wahoo. Then a few days later, I decided to use the broiler in my oven. Another gas leak. Centerpoint shut me down a second time. #joysofgas
- Storage: so, it’s a 475 sq. ft. apartment. Tiny. But has a full kitchen, a walk-in closet, a coat closet, and plenty of space for my bed, tv, dresser, and hope chest. I bought a shoe organizer and a hanging organizer for the walk-in. The bathroom didn’t have any storage so I bought an over-the-toilet cabinet. Works perfectly. The kitchen has brand new cabinets but not enough storage for all my kitchen stuff so I bought a tall pantry cabinet. I already had one of those six cube organizers, so that’s helped with a lot of my odds and ends (winter gloves/hats, electronics, workout gear, extra bath stuff I don’t use often, candles). Finally, I bought a cute table (off FB marketplace) to be my desk and then a three cube organizer to hold my work papers and extra Tupperware. #OrganizingSkills
Another client was affected by Harvey. The renovations were finally complete and we were hired to unpack them into their beautiful “new” home. Here, they were able to move the majority of the furniture, dishes, etc. to the second floor, so our job was to mimic the set-up pre-Harvey based on photos taken throughout the years. All items were touched and decluttering/purging did occur.
- Lists: Make a list of all of the accounts that you will need to turn off in your current home and set up in your new home (water, gas, electric, insurance (home, flood, wind, earthquake, etc.), trash, cable/satellite, internet, security alarm, etc.). Make a second list of all the accounts where you need to change the physical address (bank, anything attached to your credit card, USPS, subscriptions, cellphone, etc.).
- Declutter: Before. You. Move. I cannot stress this enough. This could potentially save you hundreds of dollars as (1) you may have enough to host a garage sale (or sell on Poshmark, FB Marketplace, Craigslist, etc.), so you’ll actually make money, (2) you won’t have to buy as many boxes, (3) you’ll possibly need a smaller moving truck, and (4) your movers will be done faster as they have less to load and unload. Go through all of your belongings, literally, every closet, every drawer, even the boxes you haven’t opened in over a year or that you “know what’s in there and you want to keep it all”. Everything. Then decide if you will keep, donate, sell, or give away. Also, check out Green City Recycler who accepts all clothing, shoes, household lines, belts, purses, hats, and toys, no matter the condition.
Lastly, categorize your items together before the packing (move all that winter clothing into your master closet, collect all office supplies together, put your Tupperware lids with the matching bowls, etc.). Also, check out this list of common non-allowable moving items, so you’ll know what to discard before your movers arrive.
- Free Boxes: Log into Facebook Marketplace and search “Free moving boxes”. This is an easy way for people to clear all the boxes from their home (to your benefit!). You can also post on FB after you’ve unpacked and are looking to remove the boxes. Just don’t list your specific address on the ad (private message it to the person coming to pick it up).
- Visualize: Once you know what you’re keeping, visualize the rooms in your new home, and what you will place where. Now, walk around your current home and label the furniture and all the boxes with the new room assignment (e.g. is everything in the Master going into the new Master? Do you have a sunroom that you didn’t have before and now half your living room furniture will be in there? Oh, no, there isn’t an office in the new home, where do all those boxes go?). I like to color code my boxes/furniture to assigned rooms (you can buy labels from Amazon) as it’s easier for the movers to see a color than to read each box. Be wary of placing the stickers on furniture (these ones are recommended for not leaving sticky residue on furniture or you can use color masking tape). Also, when taking apart anything, place all parts inside a Ziploc bag, label it, and then tape it to the largest piece. This way, you’ll have everything you need to set up the bed, dresser, tv stand, etc., without having to dig through any boxes. Lastly, make sure to label the box FRAGILE if there’s anything breakable inside.
- Personal Vehicle Packing: Make a list of everything you will need within the first 5 days (I say 5 days because sometimes there are delays and it’s better to over-prepare than under-prepare). Then box it up (or place in a suitcase) and transport it in your personal vehicle. This includes packing for a 5 day trip (clothes, toiletries, hairdryer, etc.), anything you store in your safe (important documents, mad money stash, nice jewelry, etc.), basic tools (hammer, nails/screws, screw drivers, pliers, box cutters), cleaning supplies (dish soap, sponges/rags, multi-surface spray, trash bags, hand soap), electronics (phones, laptops, e-readers, chargers, etc.), and daily vitamins/medications, sheets/comforter/pillows, towels/washcloths/shower curtain, toilet paper (most important!), tea/coffee (caffeine!), and to help you feel normal and somewhat civilized, a set of plates, cups, and silverware (or buy plastic silverware and Styrofoam plates for easy cleanup). You can also pre-purchase and cut shelf liner so the shelves are ready before the movers arrive. Lastly, keep some cash for tipping or last minute purchases. If you have children or pets, pack food, clothes, medications, etc. for them as well.
- Food: Ideally, you’re only moving an hour or two away and can deliver the food via cooler. However, if you are moving long distance, it’s best to whittle down the food supply in advance, so you do not have to throw anything into the trash. A month before you move, start planning meals around the food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. The goal is to use the majority of what you have and only buy a few fresh ingredients. If you still have food left near moving day (and you don’t (or can’t) move it in your personal vehicle (moving companies won’t move perishable food)), consider donating it to a local food bank. In addition, don’t forget to store snacks and ready-to-go meals in your personal vehicle during the times when movers are loading and unloading. You’ll need a pick-me-up throughout the moving process.
- Storage Items: If you know you’ll be storing items in your new home, skip the moving box, and buy a bin to transport these items. Then the bin just goes into your garage, closet, etc. Plus it’s one less box to unpack!
- Soft Items: You can use heavy duty trash bags to transport large soft items such as comforters, blankets, sheets, towels, etc. This will save you money on buying large boxes (30 bags for the price of one box…loving it) and be easy to unpack in the new home.