SHOES – The Who, Why, What, When, Where, and How of Letting Go

There are a lot of us who LOVE shoes. Why is that? Some shoes make us feel sexy or pretty while others feel like comfy slippers. They enhance our outfits and keep our feet safe. But when is “enough” more than enough?

Professional tips for organizing your shoes.

WHO owns the most shoes? Statistics say the average man owns 11 pairs of shoes and the average woman 27 pairs. In my profession (and closet) I see more than that but 27 or under is a good goal to work toward.

WHY let go of shoes? To free your closet of congestion so you can see what you own and start to wear those previously hidden treasures. To make getting dressed less stressful. To save money because you won’t re-buy what you already own but can’t locate.

WHAT to let go of: The rule of thumb is to let go of shoes you haven’t worn in a year. The hardest to let go of are the attractive ones you love the looks of but that hurt. Or how about the ones you spent a lot of money on? There is no point in keeping shoes you won’t wear, even if letting go pulls at your heartstrings. Consider taking a photo of them but say good-bye. Let go of those old favorites that are too worn out to wear. Ask yourself: If I didn’t already own them would I buy them?

WHEN to purge: Get in the habit of reviewing your shoes (and clothes) twice a year when you’re switching out the seasons.

WHERE to dispose of unwanted shoes:

  1. Donate – In addition to Goodwill, Salvation Army and your favorite charities there is an organization that specializes in shoe donations. Soles4Souls is a non-profit that has supplied over 30 million pairs to people who need them most in 127 countries. To donate to S4S you can drop off your gently-used shoes at a DSW store (and receive 50 VIP points) or ship for free to Zappos. Consider donating to organizations that provide prom or wedding dresses and accessories to people in need.
  2. Consign – Why not recoup some of your investment by consigning your barely-worn designer shoes to a local clothing consignment store? My favorite store is Greene Street Consignment, with locations in PA and NJ, but there are many others to consider.
  3. Recycle – Athletic shoes are recycled into athletic flooring by Nike Grind. You can drop your used sneakers at most Nike stores.

HOW to store: You’ll want to store similar types of shoes together (winter/summer and/or dressy/work/casual). You’ll want your shoes to be as visible as possible with what you wear most often to be most easy to access.

♪♫ Your shoes were made for walkin’ and that’s just what they’ll do♩♪

either by you or those in need!

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Show Off Your Magnetic Personality!

It’s common practice for Professional Organizers to advise their clients to use their vertical spaces. Oftentimes, rooms are so jam packed with furniture and your 4 walls are like, hey…look up here…there’s all this great space! Take a picture of each of your walls and really see how much space is being underutilized.

Now, close your eyes and think of the magnetic surfaces in your home, like appliances, file cabinets and bathroom cabinets.  You use their interiors for food, files and toiletries respectively, but what about their exteriors? Aha! They offer vertical spaces too! Remember learning your alphabet with those magnetic block letters and using your refrigerator as a surface for organizing words or to document your trips with
fun magnets? Bingo!
Using Magnets to get organized.
No, I’m not going to tell you to use those spaces. Besides, anyone with a Stainless-Steel refrigerator knows that they can’t use the front. Plus, I don’t want them to get cluttered up!

I first became intrigued by the idea of using metal surfaces for storage from a product named Grundtal (oh, those names!) from Ikea. It is a set of three magnetic spice tins. Designed to show what’s inside with a clear top, I thought of all the things that they could store aside from spices. There are the paper clips for your office, beads for crafters, and nails for your tool area.

So sure, there are magnet boards that you can buy to put such items on, but how about getting creative and creating one of your own!  Try some of these other applications to get your stuff off surfaces and up on the wall!

Metal Serving Trays – Head to flea markets and garage sales, even thrift stores to look for these.  To know for sure that they are magnetic, simply keep a small magnet in your pocket or purse and test it out.  Spray paint your treasure in a color that you love and hang it up!  Another idea is to frame the tray and use a colorful scrapbooking paper on the surface or wrap the tray taut in fabric!

Baking Sheets – I know what you are thinking…baking sheets are aluminum and not magnetic.  True, however, with a coat of magnetic paint, it instantly becomes a magnet board!  You take a regular cookie sheet, coat it with magnetic paint (available in a spray can) and it instantly becomes a magnet board!
Disclaimer:  I have not tried the magnetic paint spray, so I’m not sure if it works.  Reviews are mixed as to its magnetizing success.

The possibilities are endless with ideas of how to use these items for storage.  Try them in:

…Your Entryway – using some magnetic caddies in various sizes for your sunglasses, your wallet, and a magnetic hook for your keys.

…Your Kitchen – using a small magnetic caddy for pens and note paper, invitations to parties (think one board for each family member) and of course for the above-mentioned spices in the Grundtal containers.

…Your Office – for inspirational pictures and quotes, your to do list, and small office supplies again in the Grundtal containers or ones like it.

…Your Bathroom – Listen up ladies! Look on Pinterest and use the search term “magnetic makeup organizers” and you’ll see a booming trend of using trays to hold makeup items vertical…genius!  Glue those small disc magnets (from your local craft store) onto the back of products like powders, blushes and eyeshadows.  For items like mascara, eyeliner and brushes, attach a small magnetic cup and store them there.

There is a myriad of other possibilities. Where would this work for you in your home?

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Organizing: What Not to Do

Yes, Believe it – There are Several “Nots”!

Organizing TIps from a Professional

We’ve all read books and articles about how to organize. I’ve even written many articles on what to do first, what to do second, etc. However, I’ve never written about what not to do. It seems counter-intuitive to write about anything negative, but sometimes we need to discuss this aspect about de-cluttering and organizing as well.

Below are five (5) suggestions about what not to do when you begin any organizing project:

1. Don’t buy any organizing products until you see you what you actually need. You won’t know the answer to that until you finish de-cluttering and putting like with like to figure out the size of the product/container and where it’s going to go. Why waste your time buying something, not needing it, and then having to return it? You also have to remember where you put the receipt so you can return it and either exchange it for something that will work or just return it because you don’t need it.

2. Shop in your own home or office. Once you’ve finished de-cluttering and organizing, you will likely have something empty that will work to contain the items you have decided to keep. Think of the money you could save by using something you already own.

3. Stay in one area. Don’t jump from one space to another. If you do that, you’ll have spent hours all over your house or office and not get anything done. Let’s say you want to organize your living room and you find a hairbrush in that room. You take the hairbrush to the bathroom where it should live, and next, you start working on organizing your bathroom. Then, you find something that belongs in the bedroom, so you move to the bedroom. What’s the result? You’ve now been in 3 different rooms for the past several hours and haven’t gotten anything done in any of the areas. In this example, stay in the living room. If you see that something belongs in another room, put the item in a place near where that room is.

4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you only have an hour, don’t tackle your 2-car garage. You may be able to work in a small area in the garage, but if you think you can get everything done in this small window of time, you may get discouraged and not want to continue when you have more time. Remember the SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

5. Remove donated items and trash right away. You’ll be amazed at how you will feel and how much room you have when these items leave your home or office. It’s almost like a breath of fresh air. And, if you put them in your car to go somewhere, deliver as soon as possible so your car doesn’t become cluttered.

How do these “nots” sound to you? Can you implement them when you take on your next organizing project?

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How to Get Dressed (Hint: Wear the Same Thing(s) ALL THE TIME)

KonMari Method

I’m a professional organizer with a minimalist streak, so my clients often ask me: “Do you wear the same thing every day?”

The answer is …. Sort of.

I don’t necessarily wear the EXACT SAME THING EVERY DAY, but yes, I have about 4-5 outfits that I wear ALL THE TIME.

Why do I do that?

We make 35,000 decisions a day. That drains us.

As a business owner, mom and CFO and COO (and housekeeper and launderer …) of our household, I’ve got A LOT TO DO. So the last thing I want to waste my energy on is figuring out what the heck to wear.

So, my general formula is:

  • I wear mostly black, dark blue, white and gray.
  • I usually wear black leggings with a tunic-style shirt. (My fave leggings are here: Athleta – pricey but worth it – and Old Navy – inexpensive, so you can buy several).
  • I try to buy higher quality items so that they last longer and wash better.
  • I choose things can be dressed up or dressed down.
  • I wear things that are comfortable.
  • I have to feel amazing in it. (Like, you-might-run-into-your-celebrity-crush great)
  • Oh, and NO ironing!

And that’s about it. There’s no magic formula. There’s no exact number of items. There are no rules.

Ok, so now you may be thinking. Sounds great, Amanda. All puppies and butterflies. But how the heck do I get to that point??

Here’s a few things to try:

Pare it down

  • Kondo It – The KonMari MethodTM provides a great path for making sure EVERYTHING in your closet “sparks joy”. You can get this done in less than 5 hours, with a patient friend or a professional organizer like me. Check out my step-by-step blog post here.
  • Edit often – Sometimes I’ll catch a non-joy-sparking offender in my closet and ask myself “How the heck did you survive in here this long?” Toss it in a basket in your closet, and when the basket is full, donate it.
  • Keep a shopping list – I use Wunderlist to keep a running list of things I need. I do NOT wander aimlessly through the mall. Right now, I need a black camisole and black crew socks. That’s it.

The Bottom Line

When you are at a stage in life where you’ve just got TOO MUCH TO DO, then DO LESSChannel your inner Steve Jobs (black tee and jeans!), make one less decision, and kick your morning off right.

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Back-to-School, Organizing, and Life

When my kids were young…

I saw every day as both an opportunity and an obligation to teach them about the world and life. From their first day home, I started talking to them about the beauty of nature, moral values and behavior, how to treat others, and why we lived the way we did.

Since I am wired to be the kind of person who becomes a professional organizer, I found life to be more messy and chaotic than I would have liked, and I had a sixth sense that it was only getting worse. And because I assumed my kids were wired at least somewhat like me, I knew they would one day benefit from knowing things like how to:

  • keep a tidy home without stress
  • make sure your work is done ahead of deadline
  • make sure you aren’t in trouble if your car breaks down

I wanted to teach them to enjoy and beautify the necessary activities of life instead of resenting them as an evil to be avoided until the last minute. Since education was a top priority, getting ready for school in an organized and happy way was part of that set of values.

Getting ready for the new school year was the logical extension of ending the previous one…

And ending each year was a time for blissful relaxation: cleaning up together without hurry or deadline, purging and re-beautifying anything that was left in a mess. No matter what else might have been planned for the summer, down time to regroup and re-organize was also built in. No getting up and dressed in a rush. No obligations to any one or anything, just restful down time. We would snack and shop and play and bake at leisure. We would watch TV and clean up no-longer-needed schoolwork. We would update wardrobes and clean out drawers and closets.

In later years…

Files would be created for any materials that might be needed the next school year. This was a time to take stock of materials and decide which products and systems worked well and might want to be repurchased in advance. We knew lists would be sent from school outlining what each teacher wanted for the next year, but we purchased whatever we could in advance to minimize time in the last-minute crowds. The girls and I did it all together in a spirit of leisurely family bonding and creativity. School, work, home-maintenance …these were all the ongoing art projects of living, enjoyed in an atmosphere of “eat dessert first.”

We always planned more private down time again before the beginning of school to gather focus and shop for remaining materials. We didn’t just race home from out-of-town the night before school, hoping someone would lend them a pen. We had been all but ready long ago!

The whole point of this was to make the necessary activities of life pleasant, relaxing, and a type of fun.

There was nothing punitive about it; it was presented and experienced as a form of relaxation. To this day, when my daughters and I visit and want to relax at home together, we find something to improve. We joke that nothing tops a beautiful organizing product or system, or the joy of getting things done in advance.

Mission accomplished.

Organizing is just another part of life. Make it a happy one!

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From Summer to School: Back To School Organizing Do’s & Don’ts

OK, folks…it’s August. Any day now, the mail will arrive with teacher assignments and the excitement (and anxiety) of the new school year will start to bubble up!

While the kids won’t go back to school for a few more weeks, we all know the
planning for the FDOS (“First Day Of School”) starts much sooner, behind the scenes… The work done here will set you (and your kids) up for a successful transition from summer to school! Check out my Do’s & Don’ts…they save me the first day headaches…every year!

Back to School Tips

1.) DO Roll Back…Bedtime

The relaxed bedtime routine during the summer can be a FDOS killer! One small adjustment, each day, in the week or two leading up to the start of school can ensure success. Start rolling back their bedtime by 15-minutes each night. Continue until you reach your desired school year bedtime. Later, when it’s time to get up at 6:30am, they are already adjusted. Bodies and brains are ready to go, move, learn!

2.) DON’T Get Trapped In The Paper Chase

Don’t sit on those must complete school and medical forms. Save yourself the 11th hour scramble…If your kids require ongoing medical monitoring (think daily meds or allergy related epi-pens), contact your school nurse at least 3-4 weeks prior to the start of school. There will be forms that need to be filled out by your physician before the start of school.

3.) DON’T Over-Do The Back To School Clothes Shopping 

Summer clothes rule on the first day of school. Look back through your FDOS pics…most likely shorts, skirts, dresses, tanks and tees…I only buy a few things and then buy clothes when they do need them, closer to October. Give yourself a break and put Fall shopping on the back burner for now.

4.) DO Set Your Kids Up For Success – The Homework Station 

Create a homework station. Quiet, calm, comfortable and consistent is what you want. Pick up some extra supplies for your kids’ homework station…items you might not have around the house. For my twins, I purchased extra protractors, rulers and a dictionary. I knew that they would need them at home as well as school. Bonus: it eliminates the, “I left my protractor at school” excuse. Set them up for homework success with a “homework caddy”. Stock it with pencils, glue sticks, crayons, rulers and anything else they may need to get their homework done. I also make a color coded file for each of them that stays at the homework-station. When they come home, they put any important papers, that need to be reviewed, in their folder. Everything they need….is within reach.

5.) DO Prep Your Pantry 

School makes kids hungry! And they need good fuel to keep their bodies and minds moving. Give them easy access to healthy snacks (for lunches and after school) by prepping your pantry. I prefer to use clear bins so they can see what’s inside and they can grab and go. The clear bins make also make it easy for me to see what’s inside so I know when to restock. I can also see what they are eating and what they aren’t.

6.) DON’T Get Caught Up In The Tasks 

Take some time to enjoy the last days of summer leading into the first day of school. Plan ahead and save time, every day, for good quality family time. Remember that all of the emotions that you are feeling….the stress, excitement, anxiety, fear….well, your kids are feeling that too! Make your home and the days leading up to school a safe, calm, comfortable space to quell the Back To School nerves. Talk to your kids about how they’re feeling, spend quality time and enjoy each others company before the craziness begins!

Need more inspiration? Want to see these tips & more in action, at my own home? Click the link below for a sneak peek video into this professional organizer’s back to school setup:

How To Set Up Your Home For School Year Success

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