July 2019 - Summer Fun!

The dog days of summer are here!

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



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.


April 2019 Feature! Sydney Young

5 Habit Creating Tips to Staying Organized


Hi, I’m Sidney, Owner of Need Organizing? in Iowa City, IA. Forming good organizational habits and establishing a solid daily routine isn’t easy but it can change your life! 

I’ve been a Professional Organizer and Efficiency Consultant for over 13 years and the one question I get asked the most is, “Once I’m organized, how do I keep it that way?” We are what we repeatedly do, and creating a habit formed around keeping your space or home organized is important! Did you know that 40% of our daily actions aren’t based on actual decisions that we make, but on habits we’ve formed?

That’s right! Nearly half our actions are solely done out of habit! 

So, How Do We Create a Habit to keep you organized?? These 5 tips will help increase your chances of maintaining your organization by creating habits to do so: 

1. TAKE SMALL STEPS! Keeping it simple is the best way to start. Decide what organizing goal is important to you (not to your kids or your husband), and go from there.  If your goal is to keep you home office organized, then start with keeping your desk clear of clutter but spending 10 minutes at the end of your day filing and putting papers away. Always add a time limit when creating a goal, as it gives you an end‐in‐sight and creates intrinsic motivation to see the end product!


2. MAKE IT KNOWN. Getting support from a non‐judgmental friend or family member can help when you get off track or need some additional motivation. A goal without making it known to others isn’t really a goal at all. If you have decided to organize your garage because you would like to fit your car in, tell your husband or family friend that’s what you are going to do. You will have someone to encourage you if you should find that it’s the end of February and your car still can’t make it into the garage! 

3. REPEAT. REPEAT. REPEAT. Research shows that performing the same tasks for at least 2130 days can make just about any action a habit.  Repetition is key, as creating the habit is not a simple task. (If it were, wouldn’t we all be thinner and totally organized?) Decide what organizing habit you want to create and then do it daily until it is an automatic part of your routine.


4.Write down the habit you want to change/create and be sure to write down specific plans for achieving that goal.  If you want to keep the clutter off your kitchen counters, perhaps write, “I will not go to bed without spending 5 minutes to put things on counters in their proper place.”  You’ll be amazed at how a written plan makes execution easier, and how nice it is to wake up to uncluttered kitchen counters!

5. GIVE YOURSELF A REWARD. If you want to create a habit around keeping your closet organized to make it easier to get dressed for work then your will be an amazing looking closet that saves you time in the morning. A physical reward would be motivating as well, you could purchase all new fabric hangers to replace your old plastic ones.

Getting and STAYING organized is a process and there may be some tweaking, but don’t get discouraged!Anything worth doing takes time. For More information, or to book an appointment with Sidney, go to: www.need-organizing.com


March 2019 - I Love My Garage!

The garage is one of my favorite rooms in the house. It’s the last place I see when I leave in the morning and the first I see when I come home.  It’s my creative workshop - a home for all projects from refinishing furniture to building my latest Pinterest creation. My garage makes me happy - but I had to work to get it there.

In order to really love your garage, you need to create a sense of order.  You have to be able to find what you are looking for, when you are looking for it. The garage must serve you functionally, but also have enough of “you” in it to make it feel like home morning and night.  

Here are some simple tips to get your garage in shape enough to make you smile when that door goes up after a long day.

1. Create zones for storage and make sure everything has a home.

Yard tools - I like using track wall systems for rakes, shovels and all the other things that go with taking care of a yard. Utilizing wall space is one of the most important ways to save space in a garage.

I like the Gladiator wall system sold at Lowes and the Rubbermaid Fasttrack system from Home Depot or Lowes.  These wall systems must be screwed into studs, enabling them to hold just about anything you can imagine.

Check out these examples of the     Gladiator System     in my garage!

Check out these examples of the Gladiator System in my garage!

Gladiator System   in my garage

Gladiator System in my garage

And here’s a     Rubbermaid Fasttrack System     in a client’s garage.

And here’s a Rubbermaid Fasttrack System in a client’s garage.

Toys - Depending on the age of your kids, you may have lots of toys to store in the garage.  Corral like items together, label and store in a way that makes it easy for the kids to both get what they want and put it away.     

Look at this great garage closet from Tidbit

I also like the Trofast shelving system from Ikea for toy storage.  You can customize the container sizes for your needs and it is reasonably priced.  Make sure to label the containers to help maintain the organization

Client garage - I found these racks at a local bike shop

Client garage - I found these racks at a local bike shop

Bicycles - These can take up a lot of space in a garage. I like to use free-standing bike racks to keep the bikes in one area.  This also helps remind the kids where their bikes belong at the end of the day.

In the winter months, when the bikes are not being used, I hang them to make more room in the garage.  Gladiator and Fasttrack both make vertical and horizontal bike hooks for their wall systems.

I use this hook I found on Amazon.  My goal was to hang as many bikes as possible in the least amount of space and this did the trick.

(Yes, that is a wine rack that I put on casters and attached my miter saw. Pro tip - Sometimes you just use what you have :))

Tools - Be creative with the space you have.

My Garage Closet

My Garage Closet

I love using pegboard wherever I can. It is inexpensive, easy to install and can easily be cut to any custom size.

Pegboard in client’s garage

Pegboard in client’s garage

Metal pegboard   in Dad’s shop

Metal pegboard in Dad’s shop

I was looking for an easy way to house cords.  This is pieces of pipe with flanges screwed into the door.  I used S hooks and bungee cord rings (similar bungees) to hang the extension cords.  This freed up a 3 foot section of my wall system.

My garage closet

My garage closet

Shoes - I do not have a mud room.  When you enter my house from the garage you go directly into the kitchen.  So I created my own mud room. We keep all of our shoes in the garage. This really does cut back on the dirt that is tracked into the house.

The shelves are inexpensive melamine with upright tracks and brackets.  This ClosetMaid ShelfTrack system is similar.

There is a container of dog food and garbage containers from Ikea that house garbage, plastic grocery bags, paper grocery bags, reusable grocery bags and dog toys.

There is a recycling bin to the left of the door and a shelf I found on the curb.  The shelf holds dog treats, sunscreen, lunch bags and I screwed hooks to the side to hang umbrellas.


Seasonal Storage - Rearrange your garage as necessary for each season.  

In the picture above the plastic drawers on the right hold hats and mittens.  In the spring their contents will go in the bins on top and the drawers will hold flip flops and sandals.

In the spring, the sleds go in the attic and I bring down my garden art and flower pots, the outdoor cushions go out and the bikes come down.

After owning a home in Iowa for 18 years, I finally talked my husband into purchasing a snow blower.  It is one of the best purchases we have made - especially this year! My biggest concern was where we would put the snow blower.  We have a two stall garage and no shed. So, I built this stand to house the snowblower and lawn mower. In the summer the mower is on the bottom and in the winter the snow blower is on the bottom - problem solved :)

2. Don’t let your garage become a dumping ground for things you no longer use. Put a box for donations somewhere in your house or garage.  It makes it much easier to get rid of things you no longer want if you have a place to put them. As soon as the box is full take it to your nearest donation drop off center.

3. Lastly, be conscious of what you bring into your garage.  The more you expect your garage to hold, the more you have to keep organized. Just like decluttering your house - only keep what you use, what you need and what you love.  And for me - I love A LOT of things in my garage :)

Let me know if you need help organizing your garage or any other area of your home.

Anne Ahmann, owner happy.healthy.home.

Anne Ahmann, owner happy.healthy.home.

Learn more about happy.healthy.home. at happyhealthyhomedm.com To see more from Anne, follow her on on Facebook and Instagram

March 2019 Feature! Anne Ahmann

Living my dream


The people who know me best know I’ve never met a garage I couldn’t organize or a Pinterest challenge I wouldn’t tackle. Home projects, particularly of the chaos-to-order sort, are my passion.

So much so that I launched happy.healthy.home., transforming my cathartic hobby into a professional business. For the past year, I’ve been on a mission to simplify lives by taking away the stress associated with never-ending clutter and a lack of functional space. And boy, has this been an amazing year!

I learned that you really can accomplish anything you set your mind to (no matter your age!) - like figuring out how to actually use Facebook and Instagram - not just scroll and snoop.

I did things way outside of my comfort zone - like being interviewed for a television feature - and things I had never done before - like presenting to a packed audience of strangers.

I worked harder than ever before in my life and in turn (or perhaps because of it) I am happier than I have ever been.  

And you know what the best part is? The reaction from my daughters. The pride on Isabel’s  face when she told me she watched my TV interview over lunch with friends. The education and encouragement Gracie gave when I was working on my first presentation. The “good job” I get when I tell them I acquired  another client.

I like that they are seeing their mom pursue a dream.  I know that in one way or another they are taking this in and it will help them believe what C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”


Learn more about happy.healthy.home. at happyhealthyhomedm.com

To see more from Anne, follow her on on Facebook and Instagram

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February 2019 - Where we've come and where we're headed


It’s been icy. It’s been frigid. There have been snow days, ice days, and freezing temperature cancellations. It’s Mid-February in the Midwest. We are cold. We ache for spring, for sunshine, for longer days and for warmth. The consensus seems to be that everyone is feeling a little grumpy, a little bitter. “Blah” or “Grrrr” are words that are coming up a LOT lately for my clients, friends and family. But I will not submit! I want spring too, but I will not give life to the negativity. I will not jump on the blah wagon. This is a great time of year for indoor projects, like sorting photos for example. As I spend this frigid February day sorting some of my photos, I’d like to take this blog as an opportunity to share some moments from where our Organizers have been and some thoughts about where we are heading. I hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane!


The first long distance job that SOS Organizers did was back in 2007. It was for a long time client who had purchased a winter home. We got him all organized and packed for his new adventure and after we dropped him off at the airport, we began driving his car from Iowa down to his new place in Arizona. Here’s a few shots from our trip. There’s a picture of our happy client, as well as one from the Red Rocks of Sedona and another from a super cool cactus nursery that wasn’t far from our clients home. Until then, I had absolutely no idea how many cactus plants bloom and how colorful and absolutely beautiful the flowers can be!


While in Arizona, we took one day of our trip to travel to the Phoenix area to do some shopping and see the sites. One of the places we were most excited to visit was The Container Store! A few years later, we came full circle, when along with fellow IPO Organizer Maggie Jackson, we had the pleasure of meeting Cecilia Boone, Co-founder of The Container Store, at the Annual Iowa Women’s Foundation Awards Luncheon!


A few more exciting celeb sightings! Several years ago, Lori Vande Krol had the chance to meet Peter Walsh, star of HGTV program, Clean Sweep, AND she had the opportunity to give away an autographed copy of her mentor, Barbara Hemphill's book, Less Clutter More Life.


The best part of IPO over the years has been the friendships that have formed. Looks like Lori Vande Krol and Michelle Kuiken had a blastie at NAPO convention (beauties in blue).


And from 2009, then IPO members Jennifer Buser and Sandy Rackis at Simple Organizing Strategies 5 year Anniversary party. All of the Organizers in attendance coincidently wore little black dresses. This picture is even more special since it is one of the last celebrations we had with IPO Organizer Joy Bayshore before she lost her battle with cancer in 2014.

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Professional Organizers are asked to speak quite a bit. I’ve spoken for cardiac survivor and cancer support groups, independent and assisted living centers, Chambers of Commerce, for bereavement groups, libraries, the Knights of Columbus, and at Wellness Fairs. Organizers like me also teach continuing education classes at local Community Colleges. We’re everywhere taking on everything. We have passion for what we do and we are changing the world. I even manage to find ways to incorporate basic principles of organization and wellness into fitness and yoga classes that I teach. Maggie Jackson added ‘the Walk Coach’ to her business, The Organized Life. Organization is all around us and affects everything we do throughout the day so it’s no surprise the number of people who want to hear what organizers have to say and who want to know our secrets!

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Organizers can also make a routine of visiting local TV news programs and offering informational segments on anything from office paperwork to kitchens and pantries. From garage organizing to preparing for Holiday guests. Check out some snapshots of news segments from over the years. I wish I could find footage of one of my first spots. It was in the Quad Cities in 2004 for Paula Sands Live for a segment on Organizing and Baby-Proofing the home. I wore a white turtleneck sweater underneath a buttoned up suit jacket with slacks. I thought that’s what “Professionals” looked like, lol. I was just a baby starting out my new career at that time, and thank goodness, since then I have learned to embrace who I am and to dress in a way that suits me and makes me feel comfortable. Seriously, don’t be surprised if I show up in cat pants these days.


With Marie Kondo’s Netflix show following the release of her New York Time’s Best seller, along with shows like Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive, compounded with the New Year and 50% of people resolving to live a healthier and more balanced life, there is a lot of fuel on the Organizing fire right now. Just recently, Anne Ahmann of Happy.Healthy.Home was featured on a Des Moines area news segment while I was invited to appear on an Iowa City story. Get used to seeing more of our smiling faces!


Then and now. It has always been our goal to grow and to learn. To lean on each other for support, guidance and wisdom. Iowa Professional Organizers are a valuable resource to each other and to our clients. We are a network of like-minded caring humans who reach for more each day and encourage those around us to do the same. I am so proud of my Iowa Professional Organizers. My friends. My colleagues.


And just like every great long distance relationship, we find a way to make it work. Thanks for joining this look down memory lane. Stay tuned as we look towards the future. We can’t wait to share our experiences with you! Grab your sunglasses, it’s going to be bright!

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