September 2019 - Library Card Sign Up Month!

Stalling Future Book Clutter by Making

A Visit to Your Local Library Can Save You Money $$$.


I was scrolling through my emails when I clicked on one from my local library, the subject was September is library card sign up month. After doing some research I found out Library Card sigh up month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year since 1987. During the month, the American Library Association and libraries unite in a national effort to ensure every child and adult who hasn’t already gets signs-up for their own library card. 

As a mother of two avid readers we spend lots of time at the library but also an equal amount of time in Barns & Noble or shopping on Amazon.   My Amazon cart currently has 6 books in it just for my 9 year old alone it doesn’t include any books for myself or daughter yet. My husband and I have been discussing different ways to save money and it just clicked that all these small book purchases REALLY DO ADD UP.

I was inspired by a recent Reddit post that answers the question of how much money you can save using the library, in black and white. People were sharing pictures of their library receipts, which shows how much money they saved by checking books out from the library instead of buying them, the response was absolutely eye opening. At a time when library funding is in danger across the country, it makes it clear just how valuable libraries are to the American public.

But how much money should a single person expect to save by using their local library instead of buying books? Americans read an average of 12 books per year, according to a 2018 study by Pew Research, and a typical hardcover novel for adults retails for between $25 and $30. If we consider $27.50 to be the average price of an adult hardcover, then a single library user who reads only one book per month could expect to save $330 per year by using their local library. 

Research shows $18 as "a typical list price for a picture book" in hardcover, which means that parents and caretakers can save $18,000 in five years — or $3,600 per year — by checking out children's books from their local library. Assuming you read one new book to your child per day, your savings would total $6,570 every year, or $32,850 in five years.  THAT’S A TON OF SAVINGS FOLKS!!!

Think about how it would add up if you stopped purchasing books for your babies, toddlers and beginning readers and began borrowing from the library. Yikes!!!! That could equal lots of book clutter avoided over the years. Since parents and caregivers are encouraged to read daily to their childrens in their formative years, if your just getting hip to this, go check out some books ideas that you can easily return! You too can avoid having a ton of purchased books lying around.

Maybe all those potential savings could inspire a little book purge at home, Because Why Not. I wanted to share some amazing tips from one of my favorite organizing websites Home Storage Solutions It gives 5 quick Questions to ask yourself when decluttering Books:

5 Questions To Ask Yourself when Decluttering Books

  • Is this a duplicate? This one is a no-brainer

  • Is the material in this book out of date or no longer relevant?

  • Have I read this book yet or will I in the future?

  • Why do I want to keep this book?

  • Could I check out this book at the library if I wanted to read it again?

I hope this information has inspired you to go to the library.

Save some money and purge a few books along the way.

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September 2019 Feature! Sidney Young

13 Sure-Fire Tips to Get and KEEP Your Home in Order

These 13 tips will help you clear your home of the messy buildups and help relieve the stress that comes with having a disorganized home.  Letting go of the things that take up space or do not enhance your life will make each day feel more productive and satisfying.

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1. De-clutter for 20 minutes every day. Organizing and purging in small increments makes a HUGE difference and helps to create a routine.

2. Donate or Sell the stuff you’re de-cluttering. There are many websites for selling online: Craigslist, EBay, Facebook sites and so on. You can also do a good deed and get a tax deduction to boot when you donate your items to a charity.

3. Make it a habit to clean your desk.  Use the 20 minute rule for your home office at the end of each day. File and shred daily to help prevent those mounts of paper work and bills to accumulate.  It is also easier to focus on your projects with your desk in order.

4. Get the kids involved.  For those of you with children even the little ones, get them in on the fun.  Kids are more than likely to keep things organized if they are involved with the process.  Make it a game, set a timer and offer rewards.

5. Practice the “one in, one out” rule.  Whenever you bring in an item, you have to purge one as well. Utilizing this rule will help you be mindful of the items you purchase as well.

6. De-clutter one room or space at a time. This will help you stay focused and motivate to do more!

7. Stand and Sort. Open and sort your mail the minute you take it from the mailbox.  Toss all junk mail and envelopes in the recycle bin and put all bills and other important docs in an IN BOX or Bill file.  Don’t let your mail pile up!!

8. When in doubt, throw it out! Follow this rule and it can change your life.  Ask yourself, “Do I need this?” and if not, throw it out, donate it or sell it.  95% of what you toss you will never need again. I promise!!


9. A place for everything…and everything in its place.  This simply means putting things where they belong.  Make a habit of not putting things down unless you are putting them where they belong

10. GET HELP! Ask a friend you trust to help you go through things. They will not be emotionally attached and can help you focus. When in doubt hire a PRO: If you're just too overwhelmed a professional organizer can help you get the job done quickly and efficiently.

11. CLEAR OUT YOUR GARAGE and storage clutter!!! Letting go of stored items is one of the most difficult projects for many of my clients but it’s necessary.  Let go of old documents, 10 year old taxes, baby items, unused furniture and broken items. If the item has gone unused for the past 1-2 years it’s best to clear it out and make room for items you truly want to store.

12. Get your kitchen in order! Remove everything from the counters that is not used on a daily basis.  Make sure to store cookware and keep nick-knacks to a minimum.

13. Stop clutter before it starts!  Instead of shopping when you don’t need anything specific, go for a walk or spend time with a friend.  The idea is to spend less time creating more clutter and focus on more important things.


Need Organizing has been helping people gain control of their clutter since 1999 and has been featured on local news and published articles on Conquering clutter.  My approach is simple and straight forward. I will work collaboratively with you to prioritize what you have and what you need at home or the office.

My mission is to rid homes and offices of clutter, while helping to make each day feel more productive and satisfying.

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August 2019 - My Favorite Books for Organizing Inspiration!

My favorite books for organizing inspiration!

I’ve always loved learning. Ever since I completed my formal education and pursued my passion of organizing as a way to help others, I have deliberately sought out credible resources for further inspiration and instruction. Most of those resources are books. I relish the act of reading physical books (rather than articles on my phone, which inevitably just leads to browsing social media). A great day, for me, includes visiting the local library, perusing the online catalog, walking up and down the shelves with my head cocked at 90 degrees, and taking home a stack of books about home organization methods. 

I’ve come across some true gems, and I wanted to share them with the Iowa Professional Organizers community! 

NOTE: It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I somewhat pride myself on being a “minimalist”, so you will notice a trend among my selections. I know that not everyone aspires to be a minimalist; however, I feel that everyone can benefit from some of the philosophy of minimalism on their path to organization and productivity. Organizing is not a “one size fits all” exercise, so pick and choose what works for you!

The Minimalist Home | Joshua Becker

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The Joy of Less | Francine Jay

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New Minimalism | Cary Telander Fortin + Kyle Louise Quilici

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I also enjoyed these books more geared towards increasing your productivity potential:

The Power of Less | Leo Babauta

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Essentialism | Greg McKeown


I’d love to hear about your favorite books and other resources related to organizing – please do share!

Happy reading 😊

August 2019 Feature! Christine Dornbusch

Catching up with the ‘The Neat Freak’ of Waterloo

Happy August fellow organization enthusiasts! I am excited to be celebrating my third beautiful summer as an Iowan and continue to be very pleased with my decision to move to this lovely state.


A little update on my business – I kicked off the summer with a “Take Back Your Space” presentation at the Cedar Falls Public Library at the end of May. It was great to see such a diversity of ages in the attendees, and the questions I got were fantastic! That momentum and energy carried over to the next stop on my library roadshow at the Marion Public Library in June. Thank you to everyone who attended those events! It was truly a joy to share my passion of organizing through those public forums, and I always learn so much from the participants.


I am continuing to accept new clients and am particularly interested in helping families who are either preparing to move or have recently moved. That is a great time to take inventory of your “stuff” and create sustainable organization systems that increase productivity, give you more space, and allow you to spend your precious time doing the things you love.


Outside of my business, I am active in the community theatre scene. I recently wrapped up my commitment as the choreographer for Waterloo Community Playhouse’s production of “Beauty and the Beast”. The talent in that cast was outstanding, and I especially enjoyed creating a dance for enchanted dishes and flatware for the “Be Our Guest” number. I couldn’t stop smiling as I sat in the audience during performances. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.

In June, I hosted my family’s annual reunion. Wow – what a weekend! We all had a great time watching old home videos, playing lawn games, and eating endless amounts of food. While I quickly learned that it is a ton of work to prepare for and execute such an event, I found that my knack for organization (in the form of a shared spreadsheet via Google Drive) helped me solicit help from family members, delegate food prep responsibilities, and keep track of the number of tables and chairs I was going to need. It felt great to show everyone that even a minimalist can host and entertain guests 😊


Soak up the sunshine while it lasts – thanks for reading!

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July 2019 - Become More Mindful to Become More Organized

Not many would put organization and mindfulness on a two-armed scale and think they would balance each other out. Are they even related?

Being mindful is a way to look at your perspective on a situation and be open to new awareness and adjustment. After two years of taking coaching courses, I’m now a huge advocate that you can’t have long-term success at being organized without a thorough look at your perspectives. When I first started my business 5 years ago, this wasn’t my professional approach. Now, I hold out the two-arm scale and say with confidence that organization and mindfulness go hand-in-hand in order to have a balanced home, life, and mind.

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Let me explain further.

Organization is creating function in a space. Mindfulness and perspective is seeing what is affecting the bigger picture. You need the big picture before you can improve function.

An oil change metaphor
You can take your car to get an oil change. It runs well until the next oil change. You can go one step further and learn how to change your own oil, and it will also run well until the next change. But, when the car breaks down and you change the oil thinking that will repair the leak in the radiator, your car won’t run well, if at all. You need to step back and learn how the whole car functions in order to learn (and see) how to keep it running smoothly. 

Perspective helps you see the cause and effect.

This bigger picture is the benefit of perspective. You can organize a space by purging and rearranging, but it doesn’t change how the space operates in the big picture. You need to step back, assess the bigger picture and create self-awareness. Perspective helps you see the cause and effect. It helps you learn and uncover your habits (good or bad!) so you can create change for the long term. A quick oil change will only get you so far.

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The mountain view
I love to hike. When I hike in my hometown of Phoenix on Cambelback Mountain, I am always tricked into thinking I’m almost at the top. It’s a deceiving trail because the trail winds and the small peaks with beautiful views give the illusion that you’re near the top. But, if you keep climbing you will finally arrive at the top of the mountain, and you can see a 360 view of the city. It’s stunning. I love sitting up there and taking in the city and being able to see for miles. A view I wouldn’t have otherwise had if I’d stayed at the bottom of the mountain or stopped at the lower peaks. The 360-degree perspective gives a new appreciation for the hard work it took to get to the top and an awareness that there is more than one view of the city scape.

This is life. We can see one viewpoint from where we stand today. But there are many other angels and panoramas that we are missing out on if we don’t explore things from the bigger picture.

Per-spec-tive. Long word with a lot of power.

How to gain perspective?
Perspective and mindfulness comes from creating self-awareness. We need to explore our awareness which leads to action and learning. What we once thought was truth is now adjusted because we are open to new possibilities. Ask yourself, what is working in the space? What’s getting in the way? What has power over my thoughts? What life do I want to live? What’s the bigger goal/picture? 

Become more mindful today and gain new perspective to move forward with more order…and more life!

If you desire more productivity and don’t know what is getting you stuck, contact an Iowa Professional Organizer in your region to get started today. 

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Michelle Kuiken, Organizer + Coach, offers Productivity Coaching via phone regardless of location. If you’re curious about how your perspective is getting in the way, schedule a free More Order Strategy Session with Michelle here Learn how to be free to do more life!

Michelle Kuiken

The Proper Place

Organizer + Coach

organizing in NW Iowa and coaching nationwide

June 2019 - Summer Fun!

The dog days of summer are almost here!

Here are some activities/ideas to do with the kids whether you want to be inside or outside.

Enjoy your summer!


1. Games can be easy and fun. Traditional “Simon Says” or 123 Red Light” are great ones for when you are outside on a sunny warm day. Board games are a great way to spend time inside on a rainy day. You can also sit and make silly faces or play hide and seek.


2. Go to a nearby park or playground. This is a great way to burn off energy on a beautiful day. You can always grab a ball and take it with you.

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3. Crafts are fun for all ages. Finger painting can be done both inside and outside using edible materials such as yogurt and food coloring. Make some cookie dough and have them cut out favorite shapes.

4. Reading aloud is always an option and enhances the experience if you include props such as blankets, pillows, chairs to make a tent or fort. Pop some popcorn and it will make it all come to life.

5. Reverse roles and let the kids be the babysitter and and permit them to give you a prepared snack like fruit roll-ups and a juice box.

6. Put on some music and dance! Create your own dance moves to their favorite songs.


7. Puzzles are a great way to spend time keeping busy and entertained. It is a great activity before bedtime.

8. Keep a positive attitude and have fun! Your energy and smile will enhance any activity and will make for great memories for both you and the kids.

9. It is always fun to pack a picnic basket and play outside on the playset or with other friends in the neighborhood.

10. You may have passes to a local pool/aquatic center just make sure you pack sunscreen, goggles, water toys, towels, and dry clothes to come home in.

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June 2019 Feature! Jennifer Robb

Perspective and Perserverance


It’s June already? 2019 is almost half over? Where does the time go? This is a special year of reflection and of perspective for me, as 2019 marks my 15th year of Organizing Professionally. I created Simple Organizing Strategies in 2004 while I was selling high end eyewear and teaching contact lens insertion and removal to patients at THE cutest Optical Boutique in Iowa City. At that time, my boss and mentor suggested that I follow the direction of my strengths and become a Pro Organizer.


I made the leap when my baby girl was 8 months old and my oldest was just a toddler. Now, my youngest is a high school sophomore taking online college courses and my oldest is a high school senior, a proud member of the West Branch Volunteer Fire Department, and is on track to graduate with the class of 2020 while also receiving her EMT certification through our local community college. Since making the decision to create a life of health and balance for myself and my girls, there has been no looking back, and no stopping the momentum on our journey of improving lives.


In 2006, the original members of Iowa Professional Organizers came together to form a support system for networking and for referrals throughout the state. We knew we were different, and we wanted to set ourselves apart in order to support and strengthen each other, and the industry of Professional Organizing and Productivity Consulting in Iowa. In 2019, 13 years later, IPO continues to thrive. In the last 2 years, we have received hundreds of messages and inquiries resulting in nearly 100 client referrals to our members.


As father time slows for no man, my career and family have evolved and so have I personally. I have been married and divorced. My children have grown up before my eyes. I lost my beloved mother too soon to cancer. Close friends have died, pets have come and gone, and the only constant has been that nothing stays the same. Everything changes. All of these events, in conjunction with my soul crying out for simplicity, balance and unconditional love for myself and those around me, has given me time to reflect on who I am to myself, who I am to others and how I can do my best to have the impact I want to have on this world and on my community, and to create the legacy I want to leave behind.

Last year I made a commitment to my physical health in addition to keeping my surroundings in order. I began practicing yoga, fell in love with how it made my mind feel and how it was making my body look, so I committed to yoga teacher training, becoming an RYT-200 Certified Yoga Instructor. By October, my YTT classmate Emily, Myself and our teacher Megan purchased a studio, and now we have Muddy Feet Yoga to add to our tool box of resources for creating heath and balance! We can tackle it all now, get everything organized once and for all. We can create systems for your space and time, as well as clear a path through mental and physical clutter.


So, in reflection I preach perspective and perseverance. Is your glass half empty or half full? When I mentioned yoga, did you catch yourself thinking, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.” If so, “not flexible” is a great place to start. Think of the results you will see. If you commit to changing your perspective, you will begin to think about how absolutely freaking amazing your body is for what it allows you to do and you’ll start to celebrate the shit out of that. At our studio we accept fat or skinny, light or dark, tall or short, flexible or not. We meet you where you are and encourage you to grow, in more ways than you know. And once you find the courage to start, you must persevere. Stay the course and give yourself a chance to create a routine, and then to turn that routine into a habit that becomes second nature. Imagine if all of your daily tasks were second nature, no conscious thought needed for things like staying on schedule, finding keys, purses, paying bills, grocery shopping, nutrition, exercise, etc. If all of these things were just part of your usual routine and you didn’t have to give thought or energy to making them happen, you would have so much more time and energy for anything you truly LOVE and want to spend more time on. TIME IS PRECIOUS. You can’t buy back time and you can’t buy health. Treasure those things and try to maintain them. Persevere. Don’t give up.

I may not have the answers, but I can tell you what I’ve lived and experienced as a student of the universe. Detach from your ego. Be kind to others. Be the glass half full person. Practice appreciation. Be humble. Love is love. It’s all that matters and it’s universal. Be it, show it, receive it. We all deserve it.

For More Information:


May 2019 Feature! Noelle Carroll

Welcome to May! Where are you at in your life? We’re all walking paths, and for me, it’s time to bring home my college student and to start planning summer activities with both kids! If you can relate, below are some suggestions to make things go a little smoother. Enjoy!

Moving College Kids Home From Dorms/Apartments/House:


1. Bring coffee/hot chocolate/soda with some bagels/donuts. Everyone is always ready to

eat. This will start the process off with a smile for the day!

2. Three areas for kids to sort before the move out takes place:

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a. Items never used

b. Items to store over summer

c. Items needed during summer

3. Have your kids do the following before arrival:

a. Discard any trash

b. Return anything to the college

c. Anything rented needs to be returned or

picked up

d. Bookstore - make sure you have all papers needed for return

e. Separate anything from your roommate

4. Dress to move items - no flip flops or sandals.

5. Packing Items:

a. Plastic containers to get home and for summer storage

b. Labels/Markers - for summer storage items

c. Garbage bags - you can use white bags for keep items and hanging clothes;

black bags for trash - bring the whole box

d. Boxes are good for donation items - more sturdy than bags

6. Shipping Items - Not all items may fit into a car for a long trip home; may need to box some items so look at times to send through FedEx, UPS or USPS.

7. Storage Options:

a: On-campus - may not be a possibility

b. Local storage - may be expensive

c. Home storage - do you have room?

d. Friends/Roommate Storage - for those that live to far away

8. Cleaning supplies - there may already be supplies in the room or apartment but take some anyway just to make sure you do not have to make a special trip to the store to buy more product that you would already have in hand!

Good Luck and Have a Great Summer!


For her own family and her clients alike, Noelle Carroll is the transitions expert! Her Company, Simply Organized, Inc is based out of Des Moines, IA but services customers nationwide. That’s a pretty BIG deal.  Noelle has over 20+ years of professional organizational experience dealing with clients and delivering the highest standard of service and customer satisfaction. Areas of expertise include: coordinating, managing, organizing, and directing.

Noelle has a Masters in Business Leadership and BS in Marketing/ Management/Human Resource Management from Upper Iowa University and an AA in Business Administration/ Office Management from AIB in Des Moines, IA.

Noelle also helps clients across the United States with downsizing, packing, moving and unpacking projects as well as estate sales. Noelle has worked with many senior living providers to help with the process of transition for their clients. Let Noelle ease your next transition, and look for her blog on the 15th that will be packed with more useful tips for summer!

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April 2019 - Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month


How To Organize Toys When Your Child Has Autism

World Autism Day was April 2nd and it kicked off an entire month dedicated to spreading awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder.  My name is Sidney Young and I’ve been a Professional Organizer for 20 years, I wanted to share my organizational tips to help families with children on the spectrum.

Creating an organized structure is important for children.  They thrive on the predictability that routines bring. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (“ASD”) can especially benefit from living in a well-arranged home.  Knowing what to expect in an unpredictable world can bring life-changing comfort and calm to children with ASD.

Putting a predictable system in place at home can truly help promote focus and concentration for children with ASD.  Playrooms, teaching areas and general living spaces should be organized to help alleviate stress and anxiety.

These tips will help establish a starting point.

  • Put a system in place for school, work, toys, crafts and books.  This is the most important step of the entire process.

  • Systems allow you to have set locations for easy access.  Your child will find great comfort knowing where everything belongs, and where he can expect to find them the next time he wants to play with them.

  • Use clear plastic storage bins or fabric baskets with windows.  The object is for your child to be able to see what is inside, and for easy labeling.

  • Separate items into groups or categories (for instance, board games, learning tools, books etc.)

  • Label corresponding containers with a written label as well as a photograph of the content.

  • Color coding bins can also give helpful reminders of where things go.  Remember the clear visibility is important.


Clean up requires more predictability and routine to ensure success and cooperation:

  • A great way is to play a 10 minute clean up game.

  • Set a timer to help motivate and get your child involved in the process of putting things back in their designated areas.

  • This will help them not only learn where the toys belongs, and he will practice accomplishing task with follow-through, as you execute the newly established routine.


Creating structure can be daunting in the beginning.  But remember, these are goals you can achieve step-by-step.  A little organization goes a long way and all it takes is a commitment to create a system that works for your family.  Ask for help from friends and relatives. If truly takes a village- especially to organize a child’s room! These tips are just to get you started! Modify and adjust based on your child’s needs, age and ability-and enjoy the organization.