December 2010
The Anticrastination Tip Sheet

From Rita Emmett
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook

Quote for December

The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.
--- opening lines of "The Procrastinator's Handbook" by Rita Emmett


Message from Rita


My step-father often -- and loudly -- claimed that he worked best under pressure. So his favorite shopping tip was to wait till 6 PM on Christmas Eve to begin selecting gifts for his loved ones. If someone dare imply that the choice at that late date might be mighty limited, he argued that everyone ALWAYS loved the gifts he gave.

When I was eleven, he gave me a fruitcake.

My big brother Tom did not stop laughing until he opened his gift…. also a fruitcake.

If you are ready to stop pretending that you work best under the pressure of last minute holiday gift shopping, here is a Guide just for you. Keep it and use it every year.

YOUR ULTIMATE GIFT SHOPPING GUIDE (to conquer procrastination)

  1. START NOW. Find it hard to get started? Did you read "The Procrastinator's Handbook"? Hmmmm, if not, consider buying it as a gift for yourself. Your life will become SO much easier. (end of commercial)
  2. MAKE A LIST. Until you make that list, you will feel overwhelmed. Once it's made, you will be more in control and can make a plan.
    If you discover you have way too many people to buy for, suggest a grab bag. OR is there anyone on your list who might also feel overwhelmed with too many to buy for? One year an aunt suggested that we NOT exchange gifts anymore because her list was getting out of hand, and I was relieved and grateful for her suggestion. Might that work with someone you know??
  3. RESEARCH. When possible find out what your friends and family want ahead of time. Plan your calendar around getting those must-haves before they run out. One way to simplify your gift list is to find two or three favorite things (electronic gadget, sweater, book etc.) and get them for multiple people.
    Avoid getting the season's "hottest gift." They're usually the hardest to get and therefore most expensive. This year, let someone else run from store to store looking for an item that isn't there.
  4. TAKE INVENTORY. Before your start shopping, wander your house, check your closets, under your bed or anywhere you might have hid purchases you've made in the past. Think back. Did you buy a ton of bargains during last year's Day-After-Christmas-Sales? Track them down.
  5. SET UP A HIDING PLACE. Find a permanent spot for gift storage -- closet, shelf, drawer or under-bed storage unit and make it your year-round "hiding place". Locate all previously purchased gifts and stash them in your secret location.
    Now, make a file on your computer (or a hardcopy) and list everyone on your gift list, plus all the gifts you've already bought. Match up who gets what. Now every time you buy more gifts, add them to your list. See how organized you will be? AND that overwhelmed feeling will melt away. You might even enjoy the holidays this year.
    Don't forget, as you buy more gifts throughout the coming year, keep them all together in your secret hiding place.
  6. COMPARISON SHOP. Check to see who has the best price. Plan out where you're going to go and what you're going to get.
  7. SHOP ONLINE. The Internet is a great place to find unique gifts. Once you know the "likes" & hobbies of people on your list, go to web sites that address those subjects. For example, if they would love to stop procrastinating, conquer clutter or prevent burnout (ohhh nooo, another commercial) you can get books, DVDs, CDs and even some online courses at
    And if you are looking for a great gift for teachers or parents, you can purchase autographed copies of "The Procrastinating Child: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off" (retail $11.00) at half price for only $5.50.
  8. FIND SHIPPING DISCOUNTS. Look for online web sites that offer free or low-cost shipping. offers free shipping on most purchases over $25.
    has a flat shipping rate of $2.95. has a "Site to Store" service where you can order online and have the item delivered free to the store of your choice.
  9. HIT THE MALL. If on-line shopping isn't for you or you don't have time for items to arrive (What's that?? You procrastinated?? OK, no commercial this time. I used to procrastinate and know how bad you feel already.) it's time to hit the mall.
    Avoid peak mall hours. Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. are the worst. Go early in the day, preferably weekdays, or try dinnertime, between 5 and 7 p.m. Monday night at 9 p.m. can be very quiet, even in mid-December
  10. GIVE GIFT CERTIFICATES. Why not? Then they can buy what THEY want. Many malls sell gift certificates that are valid at most stores within the mall. And if you want to avoid the mall crowd altogether, many local stores sell a wide variety of gift certificates (besides their own)
    Our local Jewel Food Store sells Gift Certificates for tons of stores, restaurants, Fast food places and the Chicago Bulls. Call your local food store or pharmacy to see if they sell gift certificates for other retailers.
  11. MAKE PERSONAL CERTIFICATES. This isn't just a money saving gift, it usually is the most appreciated of all gifts. Write a note that you will give an evening of baby-sitting, or help with clutter-busting the basement or garage, or teach a new skill or shovel snow or help someone clean their house.
    If you have someone on your list who has a spouse in the military or is a single parent, that means there isn't someone to take the kids out to buy a gift for that parent. Can you offer? Or even just drive the children around to look at holiday lights while the parent wraps gifts.
    Too busy to do anything before Christmas for a parent? Don't forget that afterwards children are usually off school for another week, and they get bored. How about an offer to build a snowman or take the kids to a museum?
  12. STAY WITHIN BUDGET. Start by considering your income, savings balance, financial obligations, and hopes for your financial future. Then set a dollar amount for each person on your gift list. If you stay under budget, reward yourself by buying a little something just for you.
    If you have hit a point in your life that you don't need anything more (don't laugh, it happens to many & might even happen to YOU some day) contribute to your favorite charity.
  13. STOP COMPETING. Don't give a gift because someone else in the family spends a ton of money on their presents. They might be drowning in debt as a result of "trying to impress someone". Be careful to NOT get lured into overspending and regretting it later when the bills arrive. Take control and spend what you choose to spend, and forget about competing.
    I haven't mentioned home-made gifts because I didn't want to give you something to procrastinate about, but why not take a risk and make fudge, cookies, a tree ornament, photo album or something that you are good at? And for that "someone who has everything" what about a donation to their favorite charity accompanied by a sincere note telling them how much they mean to you.
  14. DO IT NOW. (nope, not another commercial. I just didn't want to give a list of 13 tips to any reader who might be superstitious.)
    In closing, I beg you not to give a fruitcake to an eleven year old, unless she really, really, really wants one.
    Trust me --- most do not.

However you celebrate the holidays, we wish you time with people you love and the good health to enjoy that time together. And maybe a bit of fun and laughter, too.

Rita is looking for someone who would make calls (part-time) for her to "Meeting Planners" who hire speakers. She will provide the call-lists and training so you do NOT need any experience. Just a positive attitude.
You will be part of Rita's "Dream Team" working from your home, but you must be in the United States. If you want to talk to Rita about this, send an email to
Write DREAM TEAM in the subject line.

Please share this Tip Sheet with 2 or 3 friends who would be interested. And feel free to use this message in your blog or newsletter, as long as you include my bio and contact info:

Rita Emmett
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook and
Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress: A Handbook for the Overworked, Overscheduled, and Overwhelmed
2331 Eastview
Des Plaines, IL 60018

No trees were destroyed in the sending of this message,
but a significant number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.