NAPO 2016—A Few of My Favorite Things

NAPO 2016—A Few of My Favorite Things

It is always fun to see the product expo at the National NAPO conference. Here is a roundup of a few things that made my short list this year.

1. Mainetti Hangers. You might be thinking, “hangers, really?”. But these hangers are definitely a luxe item that can really finish a closet, and perhaps make putting away our clothes a little more enjoyable. They are completely customizable. You choose the hanger finish, body type, color. You can also add non-slip features such as applied coatings (rubber/wax/velvet flocking, etc). And for a real splurge, you can have them engraved at the nape! Worth checking out. They can be found at Nordstrom or

2. Creative Options craft boxes. I’m a sucker for compartmentalized containers. I think that is why I was interested in my dad’s fishing tackle boxes growing up! Anyhoo, these configuration of the containers are customizable, and they look great. They start with project boxes that are specific to your craft type (paper/beading/sewing, etc) and can insert into various types of carrying cases and stackable storage. Very smart.

3. Samsill Essential Pop-Up Box. I like that these do not take up space when they are not in use. Great for documents and photos, and sturdy enough for more substantial items.

4. Time Timer Clock. This clock helps us experience time visually! A great product for those struggling to grasp the concept of time and how it impacts our activities.

5. Pendaflex has thought of another great way to store and organize our papers INSIDE the folders! Available in vinyl and stock options. Great for business and client presentations.

6. SafeRacks. Not a “new” product, but still a favorite. These ceiling-mounted shelves provide excellent storage in garages and outbuidings.

7. Lock and Rollin Floor Solutions. A great way to cover attic floors to allow for storage. This option is portable and reusable and comes in long rolling strips!

Rightsizing Later in Life

Rightsizing Later in Life

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the aging population who is either downsizing to smaller homes, moving in with a family member or to a senior community, or making their current home safer to live in. Assisting with the decision making for what to retain from a lifetime of possessions has revealed learnings about how to evaluate and edit our things later in life.

Whether downsizing by sheer square footage or to a single room, assessing what is needed, what others will like to have, and which items bring the most joy and contentment requires evaluation and planning. And regardless of what we want or need, being realistic about our physical ability to participate with and care for our kept things is an invaluable measure of what should stay with us.

So what does rightsizing look like after a lifetime of acquiring and keeping? Afterall, we can’t take it with us, as they say! And certainly our family members or smaller living space aren’t equipped for it all.

First, identify the important things: what do you cherish and what do others cherish? Most of us have a short list in mind of things we value most. Generally, things that family members most desire fall into a relatively small category of items: photos, jewelry, recipes, furniture, items once enjoyed, etc. Regarding photos, make sure that you have personally curated the piles of photos that are important. Remove photos that carry little meaning and include names and years on the back of the ones that do. You might even make a different keepsake stash for each family member. Include family in this activity! Photos are meant to be shared and enjoyed together.

It is necessary to recognize that saving things to pass on to others doesn’t hold the same value it once did.  Access to goods and creature comforts and our consumption habits have made obsolete the desire for this heirloom ritual. Interest in traditional and formal goods like china and silver and crystal is at an all time low. We’ve modernized–and become more disposable. So, durable goods like appliances and electronics are not desirable beyond a few years. Therefore, it is best to plan and to ask family members what, if anything, they might want or enjoy.

Secondly, it is important to get your paperwork in order not just for yourself but for those who will help manage your estate later in life. I recommend making copies of this paperwork for them as well as your legal representative. And keep a copy in a safe deposit box. Shred and dispose of all other paperwork.

Thirdly, it is important to minimize stored things that might possibly be used “one day” such as supplies for hobbies or projects that have not yet been started or completed. This is true at ANY age. But later in life, our ability and desire to participate is an even more important criteria in deciding what to keep. For example, one of my favorite clients was a crafter who enjoyed needlepoint, quilting, knitting, decoupage, polymer clay arts, and painting. She had 2 extra bedrooms dedicated to her supplies. But her heart condition would allow for only an hour or so a day of her favorite activity. So we decided that knitting and painting were going to be best enjoyed during her retirement.

This is the most difficult exercise for those who feel they are coming to terms with end-of-life issues rather than releasing things no longer needed. I try to focus on the more positive aspects of rightsizing. Small living helps bring focus, clarity, and easy access to the things that are truly important to us and our loved ones. It also relieves our care burden and ensures that our things are dealt with on our terms.

By the Book–Organizing for Book Lovers

By the Book–Organizing for Book Lovers

We all know people who love books….not just reading them….but love the physical presence of books in their lives. Nothing pleases book keepers more than seeing a wall full of hard bound pages.

Like keeping a souvenir from a favorite trip, collecting is personal. The book is a reminder of a favorite character, place, or story. It’s also a sign of accomplishment–the reward for time spent invested in reading. And for many, a book is a tribute to the noble pursuit of literary accomplishment–a symbol of reverence for the written word. For these collectors, the idea of a digital book collection is not satisfactory. And the thought of throwing out or even donating a book is unsettling.

The down side of book keeping is the large amount of physical space required to have them. I might also add, after working with many clients who love books, many end up in boxes that become heavy and unwieldy and difficult to store and to move. The truth is, paper just doesn’t store well over time.

So even for the most avid reader, a book keeping strategy is important. I like to help by separating books into 3 categories: Books Completed, Not yet read/Read Again, Collection-Worthy.

The Not Yet Read Category is the one to keep handy in your favorite reading area.
The Keepers/Collectors are the ones for the long-term library.
BUT the general Books Completed are the ones that should be considered for release. Donating and Reselling are great options. But consider also the fun aspect of sharing your books with others. Perhaps start a “library” at work or senior center or at your favorite vacation getaway to share with other vacationers.

Moving forward, I believe that book lovers should also have an eBook strategy. Buying only the hard copies that are collection-worthy and buying the digital version for all other reads. Not feeling good about eBooks? Well you might be interested in the benefits of going digital: immediate access, digital bookmarks, highlights, and margin notes, and a much lighter carbon footprint. BUT it gets even better: there are a host of apps for making your digital reading experience a social one. You can rate books and leave reviews, comment amongst fellow readers and authors, and gain invaluable insights to other publications. Here are just a few fun ways to enjoy digital reading:

Goodreads for Android. Goodreads is considered the world’s largest social network for avid readers and book lovers. You can interact with other book lovers around the world, read book reviews, and post your own book reviews and ratings. The app also comes with a barcode scanner to learn more about the book. You can also use this functionality to quickly add books to your own library.

It turns out that reading is also about listening. Audible is the world’s largest provider of digital audio books. Apart from the endless audio books, the app also offers bookmarking features and social media integration.

Wattpad is the world’s largest community of readers and writers where you can read thousands of books written by some of the best budding writers around the world. Wattpad lets you browse over 3 million books in its library, with stories ranging from romance to science fiction. You can also share the books that you’ve read via your social networking account or upload the content written by you.

Happy reading!