Org4life: The First 15 Years

15 years

Please join me in celebrating 15 years of helping clients to declutter, simplify, organize, and refresh their homes, offices, schedules, and lives…and helping them discover their roots and tell their family stories, too!

And what’s an anniversary without gratitude, a few selected highlights, and a crossword puzzle?

What's an anniversary without gratitude, a few selected highlights, and a crossword puzzle? Click To Tweet

Thank you all

First, I want to thank you all — friends, family, colleagues, clients (especially clients), business networking contacts, joint venture partners, assistants, newsletter subscribers, flow chart users, blog readers, and social media followers — for joining me on my solopreneur roller coaster ride! I am so grateful for your business, your friendship, and your support.


2004 Discovered NAPO and attended my first NAPO-LA regional conference (as a non-member) in February. Started doing free “needs assessments” for my friends, with the intent of becoming a professional organizer in my retirement…which was not at all imminent at the time.

2004 “Surplussed” by the phone company in December, after 21-1/2 years. NOT retired. NO benefits. Immediately joined NAPO. (Read more of my story: Born to Organize.)

NAPO - National Association of Professional Organizers

2004 logo


2019 logo — NAPO has grown and changed too!


2005 – Founded my company, Organized for Life. Created my first website. (Click here for a blast from the Wayback machine.) Started monthly newsletter, Org4life News. Volunteered briefly as NAPO-LA’s Chapter Librarian.



2005 – Attended the NAPO2005 Conference in San Diego.

2005 – Moved to Albuquerque in July and co-founded Professional Organizers of New Mexico with six colleagues. (More: Organizing the Organizers: When colleagues are few and far between. While you’re there, you might as well download your 3 free PONM tips booklets!)

Professional Organizers of New Mexico
2007 – Earned IRIS certification in Home Staging and Interior Redesign by taking Sandy Dixon’s week-long hands-on intensive course in beautiful Evergreen, Colorado.

IRIS - Interior Redesign Industry Specialists

2007 – Attended the NAPO2007 Conference in Minneapolis and was inspired to create a new logo and tag line. (More of the story: The egret represents freedom from clutter)

Old Biz Card

BEFORE: Corporate-looking and boring. Looks like my newsletter was only quarterly in the beginning.


AFTER:  Doesn’t this make you want to rise above your clutter and find the freedom of getting Organized for Life?

December 2009 = End of Year 5

2010 – Accepted into NAPO’s Golden Circle of 5+ year members. (old logo)

NAPO Golden Circle

2010 – Created the Original Clutter Flow Chart to help you declutter when I’m not right there by your side! (All 17 charts available here.).

Click here to subscribe to Org4life News and get your FREE Original Clutter Flow Chart.


2011 – Attended the NAPO2011 conference in San Diego

2011 – Started offering Custom-Branded Clutter Flow Charts to other professional organizers for use with their own clients, presentations, and marketing prospects. Started sending occasional issues of Clutter Flow Chart News.
The ORIGINAL Clutter Flow Chart - Custom SAMPLE

2011 – Compiled the previous year’s weekly Facebook time tips into an indexed and cross-referenced e-book, It’s About Time: 52 tips to help you take control of your time and your life!

It's About Time

2011 – Coordinated a team of local volunteers for an episode of A&E Hoarders. (View our behind-the-scenes photo album.)

2012 – Attended the NAPO2012 Conference in Baltimore.

2012 – Upgraded to a new, combined website and blog. (Read Web Designer Janet Barclay’s story: Another Professional Organizer Chooses WordPress for her Website )

2013 – Attended the NAPO2013 conference in New Orleans.

2013 – Joined the NAPO Virtual Chapter and served as their Secretary for a year.

2013 – Combined 15 flow charts (plus articles, worksheets, resources and instructions) into a new e-workbook: Go With The Flow! The Clutter-Clearing Tool Kit for an Organized Life

Go With The Flow! The Clutter-Clearing Tool Kit for an Organized Life

2013 – Introduced Resource Roundups for DIY Organizing.



2014 – Attended the NAPO2014 conference in Scottsdale, and participated on the Ask the Organizers Golden Circle Panel.

That’s me on the far right.

2014 – Earned  Superstar Blogger status in the Professional Organizers Blog Carnival.

2014 – Joined the NAPO Authorship and Publishing SIG (Special Interest Group).

December 2014 = End of Year 10


10 years logo


Golden Circle new logo


2015 – Attended the NAPO2015 Conference in Los Angeles, at which I was recognized as a Point Platinum MVP and recruited as a POINT Committee volunteer. (POINT is a message board for NAPO members.)

2015-04-19 23.18.06


2015Joined APPO and became a Certified Photo Organizer, which rekindled my longtime interest in genealogy.


2015 –  Added Virtual Organizing Services to my repertoire

Virtual Organizing

Logo from Sheila Delson’s Virtual Organizing Training Program


2016 – Began offering Family History Research Services


2016-2017 – Clue cliche record scratch sound. My past and present collided when reporters started interviewing me again about my experience as a juror on the first Menendez brothers murder trial in 1993-4. My book, Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror was republished and I traveled to Los Angeles several times for interviews and to work with Robert Rand, the journalist whose book was the basis for the NBC 8-part series Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders. (More:

2017 – Presented “Networking for Introverts” at NAPO2017 in Pittsburgh.


2017 – Was honored with the prestigious President’s Award at the NAPO2017 conference in Pittsburgh.


2017 – Started blogging about Mom’s Boxes.

2018 – Attended the NAPO2018 conference in Chicago, and APPOCON2018 in Raleigh.

2018 – Achieved Megastar Blogger status in the Professional Organizers Blog Carnival.


2019 – Earned the 4th of 4 available (at the time) NAPO Certificate Badges (Residential Organizing, Life Transitions, Workplace Productivity, Household Management). 2019 – Was listed on Top 100 Organizing Blogs (actual middle-of-the-pack position varies).

2019 – Joined the Association of Professional Genealogists.


2019 – Co-founded the Genealogy Organizers Facebook group.

2019 – Attended the APPO Conference, and Southwest Writers Conference, both right here in Albuquerque.

December 2019 = End of Year 15

15 years

15 yearsNot listed:

  • Clients organized
  • Carloads of donations to Goodwill
  • Carloads of books to Friends of the Library
  • Classes attended
  • Books read
  • Presentations given
  • Hours donated
  • Guest blog posts written
  • Networking accomplished
  • Friendships forged

What’s next for Org4life?

Good question!

I am in pre-retirement mode, and am no longer doing hands-on organizing. However, please don’t let that stop you from asking me about home and office organizing, and time management! If I can’t help you myself, I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

I am writing a new book called What’s a Photo Without the Story? (<– link to inspiration blog post) My vision is that reading my book will encourage you to share your photos, and tell your family stories, even — especially — if you are not a genealogist, or an organizer, or a writer. Each section will include “how to” ideas for different levels of interest and wherewithal (time, money, and energy). Sound interesting?

I am actively helping clients with their family history, both by doing the research for them, or by teaching them how. I love solving genealogy mysteries! Contact me or schedule a free call!

I am looking forward to seeing all my colleagues at the NAPO2020 conference in Orlando. I will be a co-presenter in a session called “Yikes, I’m 60ish! What are my options?”

Stay tuned, and we’ll both see what happens!



But wait, there’s more!

Client Success Photo Stories

Client Testimonials

Clutter Flow Chart Endorsements

Media Mentions

Menendez Juror website

Thornton Family History website

Introvert Retreat blog contributions

Just for fun:

Crossword puzzle: Org4life Turns 15 <– Interactive Online version with Answer Key

TIP: If you know how to create a split screen on your computer, you can work the puzzle in one screen and check the answers (if necessary) in the other screen without disturbing your progress in the first screen.

Crossword puzzle: Org4life Turns 15 <– Printable PDF version without Answer Key

TIP: Click the online version to access the Answer Key.

How to find the Answer Key on the online version

As always, I welcome all of your comments, questions, and suggestions!

Please leave a comment below, or contact me privately, if you prefer.

Copyright 2020 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
I welcome social media links directly to this page!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.


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  1. Andi Willis on January 5, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    Congratulations, Hazel! I love the chronology of all your accomplishments. I’m so glad we’ve met through the internet, NAPO and APPO. Can’t wait to see how things continue to evolve for you.

    • Hazel Thornton on January 5, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      Thanks, Andi! I, too, am happy to know you! Your blog has been an inspiration to me.

  2. Seana Turner on January 5, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Wow, congratulations Hazel! What an important and impressive career you have had. You have helped so many over the years… clients & fellow organizers alike. I love seeing how your journey has unfolded. I know whatever you do next, it will bless many and be a lot of fun!

    • Hazel Thornton on January 6, 2020 at 4:48 am

      Awww, that’s so sweet, Seana. Thank you. We see things so much the same that you must be right! 😉

  3. Janet Barclay on January 6, 2020 at 5:08 am

    Wow, Hazel! I’m not sure if I’m more impressed by what you’ve accomplished or by the fact that you were able to lay out the details in such an organized and visual fashion! I’m really intrigued by your upcoming NAPO session – it’s not something that I’ve seen addressed too often, and it’s so important!

    • Hazel Thornton on January 6, 2020 at 5:17 am

      Thanks, Janet! Did you notice how many of my milestones had to do with you? (Blog Carnival… website design… Introvert Retreat)

  4. Linda Samuels on January 6, 2020 at 6:43 am

    Congratulations, Hazel, on this amazing 15-year journey! I can only imagine how much fun it was for you to dive into your organizing history, select the milestones, and recognize how much you’ve done and given to the industry and your clients. I’m a big believer in reflecting and honoring the past. Thank you for sharing your process and development with us. It’s truly impressive and humbling.

    While we never know what the future will bring, I love how your enthusiasm for the direction you’re headed. Wishing you all the best of continued success.

    • Hazel Thornton on January 8, 2020 at 10:05 am

      Thank you, Linda! It was, indeed, fun to decide what to include and how to present it.

  5. Diane Quintana on January 6, 2020 at 9:07 am

    This is fabulous, Hazel! I also love the way you presented the chronology of your accomplishments. It’s all amazing and you are to be congratulated! I’m looking forward to seeing you in April and your conference session.

    • Hazel Thornton on January 8, 2020 at 10:00 am

      Thanks, Diane! I’m looking forward to seeing you too!

  6. Sabrina Quairoli on January 6, 2020 at 10:56 am

    Congratulations, Hazel! What an amazing 15 years! May you have many more successful years to come. It is wonderful when you can look back and see where you came from in your business. It’s my favorite thing to do.

    • Hazel Thornton on January 8, 2020 at 10:09 am

      Thank you, Sabrina!

  7. Susan Kousek on January 7, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Fantastic post and fantastic story, Hazel. You are truly amazing and have accomplished so much, including this incredible timeline of your many achievements. Congratulations!!

    • Hazel Thornton on January 8, 2020 at 10:07 am

      Thank you, Susan! See you in our NAPO2020 session!

  8. Susan McKearnan on January 9, 2020 at 10:09 am

    Such a great post, Hazel, and congratulations on your 15-year milestone! I loved seeing the arc of your career, following your interests, finding professional camaraderie and support, and following your heart all the way. Here’s to the other side of winding down, cutting back, and discovering what’s next!

    • Hazel Thornton on January 15, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      Thank you, Susan!

  9. Julie Bestry on January 12, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Mazel tov, Hazel! You deserve to bask in the glory of all of your hard-won successes. Bravissima!

    • Hazel Thornton on January 15, 2020 at 1:09 pm

      “Bask in the glory”….! My, you do have a way with words, Julie! Thank you for being part of my organizing journey.

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Hazel's Books

Book cover: What's a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy

What’s a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy

Cover of "Go With the Flow! (The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook)"

Go With the Flow! (The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook)

Cover of "Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror"

Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror