Articles & Advice

Organizing Holiday Decorations

Dear Kathi,

Every year as I unpack my holiday decorations, I am overwhelmed by the enormity of my decorating task. I always feel that I need to have all of my decorations in place immediately after Thanksgiving. What would be a good plan of attack for this endeavor?

Sophia, Carlsbad

Sophia,

Realize that you don’t have to hang all of your decorations every year. In fact, you are not ever obligated to create huge displays. You don’t have to use all of your decorations just because you bring them out of storage.
Subtle, well planned decorating schemes can be far more effective than mass decorations applied with less thought. Consider placement and use only the decorations that apply to your new theme.
Do you own over six boxes of holiday decor? If you keep adding additional boxes to your collection each year, this year might be a good time to purge a few items.

Perhaps your grown children would like to take the old decorations that have meaningful significance? If you have been using the same decor for 20-30 years, let your kids continue the tradition or donate them to someone else less fortunate. Loosen up and let go! You will feel liberated and the holidays might be a breath of fresh air this year.

A great way to keep your decoration collection manageable is to buy the amount of plastic containers that you won’t mind storing year after year.
As the holidays wind down, pack and store only what will fit in your pre-designated containers. Get rid of the overflow and next year you will be facing a less daunting decorating task.

Create a method to distinguish your holiday boxes. You can purchase red/green plastic tubs or simply encircle each unmarked box with holiday packing tape. This will enable you to find your holiday boxes in a snap.
Store your holiday boxes high and out of the way in the hard to reach storage areas. This saves the easy access space for your more frequently used items.

Don’t get bogged down in the details and enjoy the holidays.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.

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Helping Kids Learn Organizing Skills is a Worthwhile Endeavor

Helping Kids Learn Organizing Skills is a Worthwhile Endeavor

One of my readers seems to be at her wits end trying to keep her son from tossing everything on the floor. She was so tired of the constant chaos that she wrote to me for help. This is her situation and my recommendations:

Dear Kathi,

I am a subscriber to Add Space to Your Life and enjoy reading and seeing people’s lives change by simply getting organized.

Well, my question involves my son.  He is 8.5 years old and is the most disorganized child I’ve ever known, he keeps everything and most of it gets left on the floor or stuffed in a drawer.  It drives me crazy and I need some suggestions. 

He has school papers, books, toys, art/craft items, etc.

What we have in place (more…)

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Want to teach your kids how to save money?

Want to teach your kids how to save money?

Tap into their video game passion and make their playtime pay off. Point them to the Great Piggy Bank Adventure.com. This is a free online game created by Walt Disney Imagineering and T Rowe Price to get families talking about money and to help kids learn budgeting skills.

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10 Things We Can Do to Become More Balanced

 10 Things We Can Do to Become More Balanced

I recently listened to a Lorin Beller Blake, a very successful entrepreneur and dynamic keynote speaker at the Moms in Business Unite Conference and wanted to share her tips with you to help you achieve more balance in your life:

1.      Quality time with family.  Choosing to pick up my daughter from school each day is one way I choose to have quality time with her every single day. So, choose quality time with family. It does not have to be long. A few minutes each day is invaluable.

2.     Book it!  I also put in my calendar my work out schedule on a weekly basis.  That schedule is just as important as my work, if not more important! Schedule things that you typically let go by the wayside if you are committed to impact your life here.

3.    Daily goal review.  Look at your goals on a daily basis (or at least weekly) and be sure that, within your week, you create the time and space for each area of your life.

4.    Three goals per day.  Set only three goals each day taken from your goal sheet or “to do” list – no more. Meet your commitments to yourself (more on this later in the book, SPLASH!). Accomplish those things early in the day and then allow the rest of your day to unfold naturally.

5.    Keep it simple!  People think that in order to have more fun and recreation in life it means more vacations! Crazy! What could you do every day for five minutes that is pure joy and fun for you? It might be to walk outside and notice the flowers, stop and really listen to the birds, or bring a massage therapist into the office every Friday for everyone that wants to partake. Bring fun and joy into every day, rather than put it off for the next vacation! Bring a tiny bit of the feeling of vacation into your world today. It changes the feeling of the day.

6.    Acknowledge.  Take two minutes out of each day to acknowledge someone, either at home, at the office, or both. Doing this has us switch our energy to what we are truly happy about rather than things that frustrate us. Acknowledge those around you; it changes the tone of the day!

7.    Bold Actions.  Take a bold action every day toward a big goal. Progress makes us feel productive. It makes us feel that we are in a state of action and makes us feel in charge of our world. Bold actions are key to balance. Take a bold action in each area of your life on a regular basis.

8.    Health and Fitness. Years ago, I was in the fitness industry. We (mistakenly) make people feel like workouts need to be an hour to an hour and a half long.  This is really not true for basic good health. Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiac surgeon and co-author of YOU: The Owner’s Manual and YOU: On a Diet (among others), debunks some of the ideas we used to have about fitness, including:

•    Increase your heart rate only 60 minutes per week! We need this for peace of mind anyway. That can translate to taking three (3) 20-minute power walks a week. Take the break to do this during work hours if you can. You need it!

•    Walk 10,000 steps daily. (Wear a pedometer to see if you are close!) Park a few rows out in all parking lots. Take the stairs, not the elevator, and you’ll quickly make headway toward reaching 10,000 steps.

•    Work in only five minutes a day of stretch/flexibility exercises! (I do this with my daughter when she wants to get on the floor and play.)

•    Incorporate strength training into your workout schedule. A total of 30 minutes per week is sufficient!

9.    Simplify! Throw things away. Be clutter free. Messiness and accumulating “stuff” creates negative energy that truly leaves us feeling more heavy, more unbalanced, and adds to our “to do” list. I am a huge believer in creating clutter free space!

10.    Stop multi-tasking! Yes. Stop! We think that this allows us to get more done.  But really, it makes us crazy!  Do one thing a time and do it well.  Let’s get more mindful about whatever the task is at hand. Love the task at hand.  When we multi-task, we do not fully enjoy anything we are doing.

 

So above I shared HOW we can get more balance in our lives… now, 10 tips on BEING more balanced!  It IS a state of mind as well!

  1. Breathe.  Really breathe, deep down to your toes. Fill your entire chest cavity. If you actually put one hand on your chest and one on your belly, both hands should move if you are truly breathing.
  2. Slow down.  I find this one challenging, but when I get conscious enough to be aware of the silly speed at which I am moving, I breathe, slow down, and life magically changes!
  3. Notice our surroundings.  When I do the first two steps, I realize, “Ah, the wind is blowing, the chimes are singing, the water on the lake is calm, the sun is out, the air is warmer. When we do this, we begin to engage all our senses and, in doing so, life is more balanced.
  4. Acknowledge each other.  This was also part of the doing list, so that must mean it is ultra important!  But acknowledgement is not just something to do; it is a way of being.  When we get out of our own way enough to be able to see how others are being and what they are doing, we can acknowledge them. This actually starts with a way of being in order to do it well and consistently.
  5. Yes or no?  Be clear, conscious, and aware of “choice” in every single thing you are saying “yes” and “no” to. This guarantees that you will enjoy life more. It is when we fill our lives with “shoulds” that we begin to resent the world and ourselves.
  6. Be Silent. Among the noisy world find silence. I notice silence at a red light. I notice silence after asking a question. I notice silence in a gaze. I notice silence while waiting for a plane. The world is a very, very noisy place. But if we actually look for the silence, it is everywhere. And in that silence, work-life balance is found.  “Go quietly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence…”  – From Desiderata, written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920’s
  7. Be in the moment.  Moments matter. In work-life balance it is the moments that matter. My husband and I both work from home. Our lives are busy and fast-paced. Phones are ringing and we are constantly having our own conversations in our offices. Even so, we can sometimes walk past the other person, have our eyes meet, and say “hi” without saying anything. That is a moment. Or, there may be a time when he is on the phone and he reaches out and touches me when I know he is focused elsewhere. In that moment, he is letting me know I am noticed – and that matters. Create moments! This creates work-life balance. Creating moments does not take away from the time in your day and does not take any planning at all. It only takes thoughtfulness and care for humans in your world, and nothing more really matters. One more thing about moments: Don’t only create them only when you feel good – create moments when you don’t! You’ll be surprised how it gets you out of your “funky mood.”
  8. Be grateful. As they say, create an attitude of gratitude.  I remember that when my daughter was three years old, we began ending our day together asking, “What are you grateful for?” She was three and she got it!  She would tell me two things she was grateful for and I shared mine with her. We have continued to do that and it is a fun way to spend time at the end of the day.  For an entire month, she told me she was grateful for the “puppy that JoJo gave me.” Other days, she says: “I’m grateful for you, Mommy,” and she gets to hear that I am grateful for her. She hears that I am grateful for others – for things we do, things we have, and experiences we create. I also tell her things I am grateful for about my work. I tell my colleagues in conversation what I am grateful for rather than finding something to complain about. It is amazing how it quickly changes the tone of the conversation! Try it!
  9. Be joyful about the little things.  We tend to skip over them but stop and be joyful about things that you are truly joyful about. Celebrate in that moment.  This is much like gratitude but slightly different. It is about bringing joy back into your life consistently. I notice how many people don’t laugh any more, and when something is funny we chuckle. Live out loud and laugh out loud!
  10. Reflect.  Notice your life. Notice your body. Notice. Notice. Notice. Be curious. It is amazing how much of life we miss and how much you’ll see by just reflecting. It is the only way we see our progress, others’ progress, and the world’s progress. Reflect. Notice. Be curious.

Finally, Here are some tips from women who have created businesses models based on the 30-hour work week:

  1. Have written and well known company values. The values should be discussed regularly and actually run the company rather than the people.
  2. Reduce or eliminate personal use of technology during the workday, i.e. email, cell phone, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  3. Allow work from home and pay by project rather than hourly, OR reduce full time salary slightly and reward based on quality and bottom line rather than just hourly.
  4. Have weekly planning sessions for teams.
  5. Be thoughtful about the amount of email that is sent internally. Use face-to-face communication rather than email for basic communication.
  6. Utilize leadership and leader behavior to increase the level of communication among the team.
  7. Allow for leaders to emerge at every level of the company.  Breed creative thinkers and problem solvers.
  8. Negotiate contracts on a work week that is shorter.
  9. Have set contact hours that are less than the ones you actually work.
  10. Take vacation/time off often. If you schedule it, it happens!
  11. Everyone in the company should have goals in all areas of their lives.
  12. Maintain a state of freedom and choice versus the thought that life is all work.

 

Lorin Beller Blake is an inspirational and powerful leader of women business owners. Since launching Big Fish Nation – a set of creative tele-programs, books and tools designed to guide and empower women business owners – in 2001, she has served thousands of  ‘Big Fish’ and helped empower them to realize their ideal lives – not just as successful, prosperous entrepreneurs, but as women who feel balanced and fulfilled on all levels.

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Holiday finance and time organizing

Kathi,

Do you have any suggestions on ways to save money and be more organized prior to this busy holiday time?

Gabriella, Entrepreneur

Gabriella,

Compile a list now of the people you will buy Christmas gifts for this year. Keep this list in your purse or wallet. As you go into stores for errands, buy presents and make a note on your list. Keep a running tally and you will avoid duplicate gifts. Wherever you decide to store these gifts, make sure to keep them all in one space. An under-the-bed storage box will serve you well throughout the year. Pre-shopping increases the likelihood that you can take advantage of sales. You will also be more in control of your money.

Your gifts will be thoughtful and it becomes easy to buy extra items while you are already shopping. By the time November rolls around, you will be finished with your list and ready to check it twice. If you come up with a missing item, use the ‘After Thanksgiving Day Sale’ to buy any remaining gifts on your list. It is always a good idea to buy three-five extra small gifts for the occasional hostess gift, co-worker gift raffle, or surprise holiday guest. Implement this practice now and in

December you will be able to enjoy the parties and holiday cheer without stress. Give this a try and you’ll never shop on Christmas Eve again.

 

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Is a Shoe Rack the Best Method for Shoe Storage?

Shoe Storage


(Part One)


(Part Two)

Shoes, shoes, and more shoes!!! Many women have a major infatuation with shoes. After working with hundreds of clients, as both a professional organizer and image consultant, I have determined why most women love to shop for, and have fun wearing, shoes more than any other clothing item.

You see, even while our weight is upsizing and downsizing, our shoe size is remains basically the same, give or take a 1/2 size.  Not only do our feet consistently stay the same size, they never create a humiliating shopping experience.  Shoes are kind. They don’t make us feel fat or accent bulges in all of the wrong places like a bad pair of jeans or a too snug blouse. In fact, more often than not, the right pair of shoes make us feel sexy, powerful and ready to take on the world! So, this in my humble opinion, is why we typically end up with more shoes than we can reasonably fit into our closet.

My most common organizing challenge is how to fit the largest amount of shoes into the smallest amount of space. With this goal in mind, the common shoe rack rarely solves this problem. The shoe rack takes up a lot of floor space. Don’t get me  wrong, floor space can be useful at times but it also collects dust bunnies when cluttered, disorganized and filled wall to wall.

The Hanging Shoe Bag -   This is my all-time favorite shoe storage device! I have been using this system for years and still marvel at the fact that I can store 10 pairs of shoes in a space no wider than 6.5 inches! For those of us with over 40 pairs of shoes, this means we can fit our entire shoe collection into a space of less than 3 feet! Granted with this system, you need to have extra hanging rod space, or, if you are ingenious, you need that much free ceiling and wall space. Most versions have metal hooks to hang them from the rod although some have velcro straps to rap around the rod. Either version connects effortlessly and easily onto your hanging rod.

The men’s version of the hanging shoe bag is slightly wider (8”) to accommodate the larger shoe width.

Side by Side Hanging Shoe Bags – Another variation of the hanging shoe bag is the side by side pocket model. It has pockets on the right and left and holds 30 pairs of shoes. You can hang it on the back of the door or on an empty wall inside your closet.

Hanging shoe bags provide quick and easy access as well as providing a perfect view of what you are looking for. They are stored easily into pairs. You don’t have to open a lid, move stacks of boxes, bend over or go through any other rigamarole to see and access the shoes you need.

Sometimes you simply might not have the rod or wall space for the hanging shoe bag. If not, never fear, I have other solutions for you.

Shoe Storage Boxes - Plastic and canvas options available

Canvas Shoe Box Organizers - feature front end openings and stack well together. The front door is clear so you can see what is inside and also allows you to access your shoes without having to unstack  your collection.

Plastic Shoe Boxes – These are best used when you have a lot of shelf space and limited hanging space. I keep my special occasion shoes on a shelf way up high in my closet. Shoe boxes protect your shoes from dust and pet hair and also keep your best stilettos from being smashed by others. If you decide to use this method, make sure to buy clear containers so you can get a glimpse of what might be inside. Or better yet, spend the time to take a photo of the shoes and attach the pic to the short end of the box so you will not have to guess which gold heels are actually stashed inside the box!

Back of the Door Shoe Storage – This solution is good under extreme small closet conditions as it does provide storage in a small amount of space.

Back of the Door Shoe Pockets – The disadvantage I see witness is that shoes often become crushed when you try to smoosh them into the pockets.

Back of the Door Shoe Racks – I like this solution because it holds a massive amount of shoes in a very small sometimes unused space. The disadvantage is the wire racks can sometimes warp your shoes so use it gently.

Shoe Cabinets – Hide shoes and can provide self stand alone solution when shoes need to be located outside of your closet. Many models use drop down drawers which let you take shoes in and out very easily.

Here is a larger version of a stand alone shoe cabinet. If you are a visual person, this one is perfect because it has doors to hide the visual clutter of 15-48 pairs of shoes.I like it because it again, uses more vertical space!

Ikea also offers a plastic version which can mount on the wall.

Wooden Shoe Benches - provide a place to store shoes and also to sit while putting them on. Sometimes, I use these at the entrance to homes with a lot of foot traffic, meaning a lot of kids and shoe clutter! Sometimes it is easier to get the kids to take off their shoes as soon as they get in the door than to try to find shoes later when they are running out the door and late for school. Shoes off when coming into the house, on when going out! This also eliminates dirt and makes cleaning the carpet less frequently and solves the challenge of storing shoes in the closet.

Shoe Shelves – can solve many challenges. If there is an ample amount of floor/wall space, I  like using stackable shelves so that I can add to your storage capacity if needed.

Many shelves also offer the advantage of being expandable so that you can customize the size based on your space requirements. If you do decide to go with shelf storage, make sure to buy heavy shelving, especially if you are storing mens footwear. I have found that a lot of shelves simply do not hold up and or topple over when loaded to capacity.

Under Bed Shoe Storage – including plastic tubs, rolling racks and zippered pouches. Under the bed rolling shoe organizers use space that is typically free and clear of clutter.

Under Bed Rolling Racks - The open air rolling shoe racks are good for shoes that you wear frequently. The disadvantage is that they tend to collect dust bunnies.

Under the Bed Zippered Pouches - are best for off-season or occasional shoes because they are too much of a hassle to get in and out of on a daily basis.

Under Bed Plastic Bin Storage – I like this solution becuase it has wheels for easy access.

Shoe Storage Carts - I use these for my clients who have a lot of off season shoes. It is tall but only takes less than 14 inches of horizontal space. It is also zippered so it keeps shoes in clean when in storage. Anytime I can use vertical space and less horizontal space, I am happy!

 

Smaller Wheeled and Sealed Storage Cart – Good for stowing under hanging clothes.

Shoe Carousels – You can hang this unit form your hanging rod.  The Swivel hanger allows you to access every pocket and shelf in one swirl. Lifts all your items up off the floor and organizes them so when you are ready to use them they are visible and clean.

Revolving Shoe Trees – These work fantastic when stashed into the small unreachable corners of your closet. I had one installed to the left of a built in cabinet in my two sliding door closet. It served me well for years and made good use of the corner that was never easy to reach. When I needed a pair of shoes, I simply spun the rack and found what I was looking for.  Make sure the space you choose has room around it for the shoes to move since each carousel rotates for easy location.You can buy these as stand alone units or, in my super small closet situation, the floor to ceiling model was perfect!

Standing Racks are yet another way to keep your shoes off of the floor. These are a little better than the shoe rack because they keep your shoes on place and separated.

Shoe Storage Wheel - This is a very interesting and novel way to store your shoes. I have not seen it personally so cannot vouch for it’s quality, but it looks pretty cool! They say you can store 20-30 pairs of shoes inside. The unit is on wheels so you could stow it under your hanging clothes and pull it out to access your shoes. Very interesting. I would love to play with one of these in person!

 

If you still cant find the perfect solution for your shoe collection after reading this article, I quit! Have fun upgrading your shoe storage, and most importantly, stow your shoes somewhere besides in piles on the floor of your closet!

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Organizing holiday cards

Dear Kathi,

I am beginning to plan for the holidays and already feel outnumbered by the mountain of tasks that lie ahead in the next month. My largest and most dreaded task every year is to mail out holiday cards. I hate doing this and typically wait until the last possible moment. What can I do to make this task more enjoyable?

Joy (although I don’t feel joyous today) Leucadia

Joy,

Do you keep a master list from year to year, or do you try to recreate it every year? If you don’t already have a master list, create one this year. Collect all of the envelopes and cards you receive this year into one space and compile a master list from these after the holidays subside. With your newfound list, you will have the option to send a St. Patrick’s Day or other special occasion card.

Every year after the holidays, update your list with new addresses and returned cards.

Consider mailing Thanksgiving cards. Thanksgiving cards are warmly received and also give you an opportunity to send your greetings before the holiday rush begins. Many card manufacturers now offer a mailing service and will even address, label and mail your cards for you!

Another alternative is to create a customized holiday card on your computer. You can include a recent family photo or write a special greeting that can be reproduced on demand.

Have you ever yet received a holiday card online? There are many cute holiday cards on the web that you can send via email. Check out holidaycards.com. Many services are free and provide the opportunity to write a unique message. At audiocard.com you can send a custom family photo and even choose a song to go with an animated greeting. All you need to complete this task is a running email list of your friends and family. Your card will receive special attention and won’t be lost among the other cards received by your friends.

Remember you are never obligated to send holiday cards. If you feel too hectic this year, go easy on yourself and take a year off.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com
.
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Tips for Decluttering Your Life and Your Home

Tips for Decluttering Your Life and Your Home

I recently received a question from an addSpace follower. I am certain that many of you also have a similar concern so I wanted to go into detail and provide practical steps to help you declutter your life. This is what she asked:

What questions can I ask myself as I sort through boxes of “stuff” in order to get rid of most of it?

The answer:

For starters, if these boxes have been packed and loaded for a long period of time (over 3 months), before you open them you need to ask yourself – “what exactly is in there?

If you don’t have a (more…)

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Choosing the Perfect Colors To Compliment Your Eyes

Hi Kathi,

What colors go best with eye colors?  What Gotchas should I be aware of? Please point me in the right direction.

Thank you very much.

Regards, Lacey


Hi Lacey,

Thanks so much for this question! I am sure many others are also curious.

What I have discovered over the years is that eyes, like hair and skin tone tend to run either warm or cool, so let’s start there.

In order to answer this question and create a game plan you must always also consider the skin and hair color. The combination of all three elements will determine what colors you should wear close to your face.

Carole Jackson, author of Color Me Beautiful originally and ingeniously developed the idea of seasonal palettes and complexions. She makes it fairly easy to determine your seasonality through her in depth descriptions and color photos. You might want to pick up a copy of that book to actually see the colors that I will refer to in this article. I will also write a more detailed article about seasons and colors with and include a link to it at the end of this article once it is posted. Check back in a week or so.

Green Eyes

Green eyes come in a variety of tones, from gray/green, clear green, avocado green or hazel with a gray tone. If your eyes are gray/green, or clear green a cooler color palette will work best to compliment your eyes.

If you have the green eyes with the warmer tones of avocado or hazel, you can create a striking combination by wearing warmer colors.

Brown Eyes

Hazel / Brown eyes often have flecks of gold or green within. They would be considered a warm tone and are fun to highlight because they can change tonality or color depending on what colors are close to the face. Sometimes they can look green, sometimes gold or at other times, simply brown. These eyes work well with warm, muted colors and tones.

Some brown eyes are very dark, almost black/brown. If this sounds like your eyes and you also have blue/black hair and blue undertones in your skin, then you are probably a winter complexion and cool, clear, crisp colors will look best around your face.

Blue Eyes

Blue eyes that are deep blue with gold flecks, blue/green, turquoise will look best in softer, warmer tones.

Blue eyes that are deep blue with white flecks, aqua/ grey, clear blue, or will look best in cool colors.

I explain how to determine which season you are and the colors that will look best on you in more detail in the upcoming article titled: Seasons and What Colors to Wear. Check back next week for this article.

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Home Organization Includes Creating an Organized and Efficient Home Office

I was sitting at our kitchen table, with my computer and a small handful of files in a carry bag that were necessary for the project I was working on. Within 30 feet was my office door but I would not go in and work there. Literally, I had moved myself out of my office with all the “muck” I had accumulated over the past 8 years. I thought back to all the things that had moved in, filling up (more…)

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