Gems from #NAPO2013 Conference

Just reviewing my notes from the National Association of Professional Organizers conference (#NAPO2013), which happened in New Orleans last week. I’m doing the suggested half-day (ok, maybe an hour) review of my notes and setting of goals based on my time there, and some things are too good not to share.

You probably saw the few videos that I and my colleagues made sharing our AHA moments.  You can catch up on them over at I was also just tickled pink to get to meet my idol, Julie Morgenstern, who wrote one of the most solid organizing books, Organizing from the Inside Out:The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life

I finally got to meet my idol at NAPO2013, Julie Morgenstern!
I finally got to meet my idol at NAPO2013, Julie Morgenstern!

I have several organizing goodies that I’ll be giving away on future posts, so stay tuned, and have your friends subscribe to my posts so they can get in on the goods.

I also learned that those pictures you take of yourself while looking in the mirror are called a “selfie.”

Here are my favorite one-liner lessons from conference:

  • Multi-tasking is a myth; there is only rapidly shifting attention. The science shows this to be true!
  • “Don’t believe everything you think.”
  • When purging, ask yourself, “Does this just seem important because I’m looking at it right now?”
  • An email inbox is NOT a to-do list, but even super smart people have to learn this.
  • Procrastination does not equal lazy. It usually means that energy levels (best times of day) are not well matched to tasks selected.
  • Motivation can be improved by seeing positive results. You don’t have to change everything, you just have to change enough of the pieces to get you over the Magic Threshold (similar to the tipping point).
  • Professional Organizers aren’t therapists…except when we’re the only ones in the room, and then we are!
  • If you never fail, it doesn’t mean you are awesome; it means you are never pushing yourself.
  • You can have a great batting average, but staying in the Little Leagues forever isn’t the goal.
  • If you’re having trouble getting started, the first step is too big. Break it down.
  • The traditional challenge of paper clutter has morphed into mobile clutter>>cloud clutter>>digital clutter!
  • Strive for paperLESS, not paperFREE!
  • Just scanning isn’t enough.  You still need to maintain and “straighten” your digital files every few months.
  • Staple removers are essential equipment in the new world of scanning.
  • Willpower= the ability to do what matters MOST to YOU, even when challenges present themselves.
  • Willpower is a SURVIVAL instinct, but is not always well adapted to our modern world.
  • Frame and practice your willpower workout in this way:

1. Identify big goal/vision (I want…)

2. Choose commitment (I will…)

3. Notice what gets in the way (I won’t…)

4 Pay attention, flex your willpower, repeat.

  • Willpower is contagious!  Who knew?? Your friends and family can really make you fat. Wow!
  • Distress tolerance, despite being unAmerican, is something that can help us be more successful. We need to accept inner discomfort when seeking change. Avoiding discomfort does not move us forward.
  • Mindfulness (thinking about thinking and accepting discomfort that comes with change) can reduce cravings and discomfort, allowing us to move to new habits and systems.
  • Willpower is driven by physiology (cortisol, brain anatomy, hormones, etc.), but not by genetics. We can train our brain for more willpower!  Praise God!
  • The amygdala, an ancient part of our brain, often does our subconscious thinking, despite our evolved state.  We can affect other people’s amygdala reactions by improving our non-verbal communication, and allowing them to feel discomfort but not distress. Reframing to the positive end-goal helps greatly.
  • Accountability in an organizing relationship is to the client’s self, not to me.
  • “Stuckness” responds well to having more responsibility, not less.  But the responsibility has to be from the party who wants the change, not from outside.
  • “Why shoot for the keyhole, when the doorway is wide open?”
  • The Productivity Chain can help identify what part of our systems and habits are causing overwhelm and under-performance.
  • Brand EVERYTHING you do. You never know what will go viral.
  • Live with transparency. It’s just too easy to dig up dirt.
  • Learn to write. Even Peter Shankman, one of today’s top ADHD globe trotters, has no tolerance for twitter style writing, do U? Good communication skills still make a great first impression, even in 140 characters or less.

Now, you can feel like you were there, too, but without the spicy food and Hurricane hangover! I’d love to hear if you have questions about the conference.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Linda Samuels

    Darla- What an amazing round of one-liners you collected from NAPO New Orleans! Many of the ideas that resonated with you, were similar to mine. I particularly loved Kelly Mcgonigal’s keynote about willpower. Thanks so much for sharing what you learned. I can feel the excitement and energy. How wonderful!

  2. Pammy Pam

    oh SURE name drop P Shankman why dontcha?

    1. Darla

      Well, I didn’t get to buy him a drink, but he is genuinely a nice guy. I guess that explains all those followers.

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