JERI DANSKY professionalorganizer

January 2010 Newsletter

Tip of the Month: Lessons Re-Learned in the Last Weeks of 2009


Professional organizers have organizing challenges, just like everyone else. In the time between Christmas and New Year's, I did some of my own housekeeping, and had some organizing lessons hit home.


1. Paper takes time.

One thing I worked on was getting my basket of miscellaneous papers cleaned up. It's not like there were important items, like bills, in there - but there was a backlog of notes, non-critical mail, newspaper clippings, and such. And each little scrap of paper required me to remember what it was, why I had it - and decide what I wanted to do about it.


2. Inbox zero is wonderful. But inbox 186 still beats inbox 974.

Merlin Mann popularized the phrase inbox zero for an empty e-mail inbox. And an empty inbox (or basket of papers - see above) is a grand goal. But I didn't make it; I didn't get my basket entirely empty. Still, it's in much better shape. I have no idea exactly how many papers I had to begin with, or how many I have left - the numbers above are random - but the basket is no longer frightful. And I got past my inertia of dealing with the stack, so I know I will get it fully cleaned out soon.


3. Good computer backups are critical.

As I decluttered my list of to-do items, I tackled one I'd had for exactly a year, related to getting a computer problem fixed. The problem was an annoyance, not anything critical, so it was easy to postpone getting it taken care of - but it still had to be done, and my warranty isn't going to last forever.


So at 8:30 a.m. on December 26 I took my MacBook and my external monitor to The Apple Store, fully expecting the problem to be related to the monitor. Surprise - the staff found a problem with my computer, and it was a problem that required reinstalling the operating system and standard applications, leaving me with none of my data or other applications. But I had an up-to-date backup on an external hard drive, and restoring everything took just about an hour. (Techie note: I'm on OS/X 10.5.8 and I use SuperDuper to create a bootable external drive - highly recommended!)


4. A quick way to make progress is to decide a whole category of things no longer needs to be saved.

This one comes from my brother, not me. He's planning to make sure that a certain technical journal is finally on-line, and then get rid of all his paper copies (except a couple with sentimental value), saving an enormous amount of space.



Organizing Products of the Month


to do list on green paper; includes call cat psychic



I've been a fan of the CubeTimer for its ease of use, even though it wasn't the best-looking thing around - and after a while it got hard to find. But now I see the Miracle Time Cube, which seems very similar.


to do list on green paper; includes call cat psychic


Another variation is the Cubic Timer. [Thanks to Better Living Through Design for the pointer.]



Organizing Quote of the Month


Paula Wolfert has a new book devoted to clay-pot cooking, but it feels too ambitious in advance; we have tried too many other modish pots, and know that ... after their hour is done they will live out their years forgotten and alone, on the floor of the closet, alongside the fondue forks and the spice grinder and the George Foreman grill.


-- Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker



Organizing Statistic of the Month


When we can't store our many things, we just throw them away. As business writer Polly LaBarre notes, "The United States spends more on trash bags than ninety other countries spend on everything. In other words, the receptacles of our waste cost more than all the good consumed by nearly half of the world's nations."


-- Daniel Pink in A Whole New Mind



Recycling/Reuse Idea of the Month


Have china, crystal, silver or collectibles that you no longer want? Would you like to sell the stuff - but not have to deal with eBay or craigslist? If your items are not chipped or cracked, you might try Replacements, Ltd.



Highlights From My Blog in November and December


There were 15 entries in my organizing and de-cluttering blog in November, and another 15 in December. Some of the most popular entries were:


You can sign up for free e-mail updates from my blog; each time I make an update, you'll get a message. Look in the upper right-hand corner of the blog for subscription information.



My Little Twitter Tidbits


I'm using Twitter mostly for those tidbits of organizing-related stuff I find - little things that will never make their way into a newsletter or a blog post. I also use Twitter to announce new blog posts. Follow me, @JeriDansky, if you'd like.


For those who don't use Twitter, here are some of the things I've written lately, slightly edited for a non-Twitter environment:

  • From David Allen: There is never enough time to do what you really don't want to do. Time management is really value management.
  • Reading: "I don’t need to file information anymore that is searchable."
  • Admiring: Clothes from 4 generations made into a baby quilt:
  • Old medical records for both the cats and me are now scanned, and paper shredded; more room in file cabinet, and easier to find info.
  • Reading: Dump the junk.
  • Noted: IKEA launches catalog as iPhone app.
  • Reading: Do you store things in the oven?


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