Tips & Inspiration for Organizing a Simpler Life
September 2014 – Vol. 13 No. 6


“I hate housework. You make the beds, you wash the dishes, and six months later you have to start all over again.” ~ Joan Rivers (R.I.P.)

Are you organized for an emergency? 

Tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods. Perhaps you’ve lived through one or more of these natural disasters and lived to tell about it. Or maybe you’re one of those people at the other end of the spectrum who live in fear of something disastrous happening.

I think most of us would rather not think about the unthinkable. But thinking now – and more importantly, taking action now – could save your life and the lives of the people you care about most. At the very least, it could minimize the potential for injury or damage and help you get your life back on track faster.

September is National Preparedness Month and my goal in writing this article is to raise awareness about the importance of being prepared for emergencies. And I’m not just talking about being able to find a flashlight in the pitch dark if you lose power.

You’ve heard the saying: Expect the best, but prepare for the worst, right? Go to to learn what to do in the event of a natural disaster. You’ll find links for making a plan and building a disaster kit, how to plan for disaster with kids and pets, and lots more.

I’d like to point out that if flooding is a possibility in your community, you’ll want to store things in watertight bins off the floor in your basement. If wildfires sometimes sweep through your area or surrounding communities, you should be prepared to evacuate your home on short notice. What is you only had 20 minutes? What would you take with you? The time to decide is now, not during an emergency situation.

Disaster or no disaster, it’s a good idea to keep organized records of important information and be sure to back up that information. You can scan and store important documents to a secure Cloud server, keep copies in a safe deposit box, or give copies to a trusted family member and do the same for them.

If you’re a newcomer to your area, check to see what natural disasters could happen there. I was surprised to learn when we moved to Michigan that tornadoes could be a threat. Of course, now more than ever, as full-time RVers, we need to stay tuned in to local news and weather forecasts wherever we go, especially in the Northwest where summer wildfires are common. At, you can enter your zip code and get the low-down on disaster potential in your area.


That’s me doing a practice escape through an emergency exit.

Last month, I attended a rally of the Family Motor Coach Association, which included a seminar on fire safety. When the instructor asked for volunteers to do a practice escape through the emergency exit window of a motorhome, my hand shot up immediately. I was really nervous about crawling through the tiny bedroom window and allowing myself to fall to the ground. I’m sure that if there was a real fire, I would have managed to escape, but there’s a good chance I could have hurt myself in the process. Learning how to do it properly and having had that chance to practice doing it has given me the confidence to do it in an emergency (God forbid). And that’s one less thing I need to worry about.

What will you do to be better prepared for an emergency?


Got drugs?

Mark your calendar for September 27 – that’s National Prescription Take-Back Day. On this day, you can properly dispose of your unused and expired prescriptions by dropping them off at a local collection site between 10am and 2pm. To learn more and/or locate a site near you, click here.

If there is not a collection site near you, or if you need to dispose of medications at any time during the year, this is what is recommended:

Ask your local pharmacy if they collect expired prescriptions. If not, follow any disposal instructions on the label. Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless this information instructs you to do so.

Remove medications from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. This makes the drug less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who go through trash seeking drugs. Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.

Before throwing out a medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and privacy.


Favorite organizing products and resources

As a professional organizer for the last 14 years, I’ve used and recommended a lot of organizing products, services and resources. Every month, in this column, I share my favorites.

Purse Perfector

Purse Perfector

Last month, I re-introduced you to one of my all-time favorite organizing products. The Purse Perfector is an insert that transforms the inside of your purse from a black hole to a neatly organized interior. It comes in various colors and sizes to fit any purse – and makes it really easy to change purses. Just pull it out of one and pop it in another! The coupon code given last month has expired, but psssst…here’s a new one – USASEWS – to get the same 15% discount off the Purse Perfector.

This month, in keeping with the “be prepared” theme of this newsletter for National Preparedness Month, I’m going to suggest that you take a look at the Neat Desk scanner. If there was a fire, or a flood, or even just a power surge that fried your computer, would you still have your valuable files for your home or business? With a Neat Desk scanner, you can protect your tax documents, financial information and other valuable information. It scans up to 24 pages a minute so you can turn those piles of papers into organized digital files. Then use it continue to scan incoming receipts and other papers and never have to file paper again!


Neat Desk scanner

I used a Neat Desk scanner to scan tax documents, business bank statements and receipts, and my recipe collection when I made the decision to go paperless. It’s a super-fast and much easier alternative to scanning individual pages on your printer scanner (if you even have one). Plus it’s less expensive to buy the scanner and do it yourself vs. paying someone to scan all your documents. And oh, hey! I just popped over to their web site and guess what? You can get a Free Digital Filing System and NeatCloud Trial with the purchase of any scanner.  Check it out!

For a look at more of my organizing favorites, including some new favorites, visit


Looking for more cleaning, decluttering and organizing tips?

You’ll find more of my tips in these recently published articles:

Clutter Clearing Tips from Organizing Experts (Family Circle)

10 Things You Can Clean in the Dishwasher (Womans Day)

The 10 Dirtiest Places in Your House (Better Homes & Gardens)


Shameless promotion: Better Homes and Gardens book

organize your homeLast summer, Better Homes and Gardens released a book called Organize Your Home: Clutter Cures for Every Room. I was honored to be one of dozens of contributing professional organizers.

Why am I just telling you about it now, 15 months after the book’s launch? Well, I was cleaning out my email inbox today (yeah, I struggle with email too!) and found an email from the project manager with all of the launch information. Whoops! In my defense, it was being launched around the same time we sold our home and took off in our motorhome and I had a lot on my mind back then!

As the title suggests, it’s a comprehensive guide to getting and staying organized at home, room by room. Chapter by chapter, it walks you through the entire home, prividing key advice and inspiration to organize every space. Organize Your Home covers both sides of the organizing equation: the psychology of paring down possessions, reducing clutter, and staying organized as well as the nuts and bolts of finding the right bins, baskets, drawers, and more to store the items you do keep in attractive and efficient ways. Best of all, Organize Your Home shows you how real homes (with real budgets) make organization and efficiency a reality.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that this book has received excellent reviews. One reviewer wrote: I bought this to jump start some long overdue closet and pantry planning. I’ve ended up with some great ideas on how to increase efficiency all over my house. From bathroom cabinets to closets to pantries, this is a great resource for any of your organizing needs.

Organize Your Home is available from your favorite booksellers including Amazon. Happy organizing!


That’s all for this month. Until next month, keep it simple.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission which goes toward the continuation of this complimentary newsletter. Please note that I only recommend products that I would recommend whether I got paid or not.