JERI DANSKY professionalorganizer

September 2006 Newsletter

This month's focus: Things we don't like to think about (disasters, bugs, and taxes)


Event of the Month


The Department of Homeland Security has declared that September is National Preparedness Month. No matter what your politics and your opinion of Homeland Security, why not take some time this month to evaluate if you are prepared for things like:

  • natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes and other storms, etc.)
  • medical emergencies


A few of the many things to consider:


1. Have a home inventory so you can prove what you've lost in the event of a fire, theft, etc. Inventories can include written lists, pictures, and/or videotapes; personally, I have a list and photos - plus receipts for major purchases. Information on home inventories can be found from:


2. Consider carrying an emergency kit in your car. Make your own, or buy one already made. (If you think you should just make your own, but you find yourself procrastinating, then maybe buying a kit is the way to go.) Some organizations you can buy from include:


3. Make sure that key medical information is readily available to those who may need to assist you. My mom had two emergency hospitalizations lately (she's fine now) - and I was sure glad we had a grab-and-go packet that included emergency contact information, an up-to-date list of her medications, her Advance Health Care Directive, etc. Here are some resources that might help if you want to do more in this area:


4. Make sure you have included your pets in your emergency planning. See the information provided by The Partnership for Animal Welfare.



Tip of the Month


If it's worth keeping, it's worth storing it properly. It's always sad to go through someone's boxes of stuff and find that precious items have been attacked by bugs or rodents. Here are some steps you can take to prevent such problems.


1. Clothing and Moths: Clean your clothes before putting them into storage. Clothes moths aren't attracted to clean clothes, but rather to the clothes which are soiled by food, perspiration, etc. And then consider using products which repel moths and beetles, such as cedar and lavender products. (Moth balls are highly toxic.) For much more information regarding clothes storage, see


2. Rats and mice can cause serious damage to property, and spread disease - so it makes sense to take precautions to keep them away from your home by removing their food, water, and shelter. Please be extremely careful cleaning up after them; consider getting professional help. For specific information on controlling rodents (and cleaning up after them), see:



And a bonus tip (for United States taxpayers)


As we let go of things we no longer need, many of us donate them to charities. But did you know that the tax rules regarding items donated to charities just changed? (Oddly enough, this change was part of the Pension Protection Act signed into law on August 17.) Donated items, such as clothing and household goods, must be in "good condition" or no deduction is allowed.


However, the law doesn't define "good condition" and it's too early for the Treasury Department and the IRS to have guidelines in place. Most of the advice I'm seeing talks about keeping more detailed records, and  maybe taking pictures of donated items. Check with your own tax advisor if this change might be important to you. 



Statistic of the Month


OK, let's leave the bugs, taxes, and disasters behind. This statistic is scary enough: A study by U.S. News and World Report found the average American spends one year of his/her life looking for lost or misplaced items in the office.



Quote of the Month


Clutter clearing . . . can open the space for magic and miracles to come into your life.

-- Michelle Passoff



Products of the Month: Organizing Business Cards



I haven't seen this business card binder in person, but it sure looks nice on the web: Kit Business Card Holder Binder from Russell+Hazel.


Another product I haven't seen but which looks good is the mini file cabinet.


But if you'd rather store the information electronically, the CardScan business card reader might help. (I have not tried this myself, but I've heard good things about it.)



Donation/Recycling Idea of the Month


Have old athletic shoes that are too worn out to donate? Consider giving them to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program, which accepts all brands.



Book of the Month


Sink Reflections, by Marla Cilley (The FlyLady) is a combination housekeeping/organizing book. The FlyLady is quite well known, so it's a bit embarrassing that I just got around to reading her book this past month. While I'm not enamored with all of her ideas, her approach works well for many - and she certainly has ideas I DO find useful.


In fact, I've just started using her Before Bed Routine and Morning Routine - written lists of what you do each morning and evening. At first I thought this seemed silly - I know to shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, etc. But I found myself adding to my lists the things I tend to forget to do, where the habit is not yet ingrained - charge my cell phone at night (when it needs it), for example. Checking my lists as I get ready to leave the house and before I go to bed has helped ensure I don't forget these things.


For more reading ideas, see my list of favorite organizing books.



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