May 2011
The Anticrastination Tip Sheet

From 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

Quotes for May
All quotes from The Clutter-Busting Handbook by Rita Emmett

We all have stuff that we love --- for a while --- and then one day, instead of looking wonderful, it looks like clutter.

It will get messier before it gets de-cluttered. You will need to pull everything out and go through it – whether working with a closet, a wallet or a desk drawer.

If you don’t find a place for something, then you’ve got clutter.

If you haven’t used it in a year, it can’t be too vital to your lifestyle.

Message from Rita

Happy Spring Time!
For many of you, the kids will be out of school soon. One challenge that leaves some
parents feeling hopeless is how do you teach children to become clutter-busters.

Children feel just as overwhelmed with clutter as we do, but they don’t know what to do about it. So their idea of cleaning is to stuff and stash and hide, cramming and jamming things with hopes that you won’t notice.

You do and you reprimand them.

To help them simplify their rooms is one of the kindest gifts you can give children. It helps make their living space manageable and breaks that negative cycle of frustration and futility that a cluttered room generates.

Do your own de-cluttering first, but let your children know what’s happening. Share your struggles with them. Tell them about getting rid of those things you thought you couldn’t do without. Tell them about how you feel seeing clutter disappear. Share your excitement, joy, enthusiasm, relief, feelings of freedom or whatever.

To support you in helping kids conquer clutter, at the end of this message is a link for a helpful audio download of a radio interview with me talking about "Kids and Clutter". In July, we will start charging for it but readers of this tip sheet can download it now for free at

BUT WAIT -- THERE'S MORE: don't forget we recently lowered the price of The Procrastinating Child book from $11.00 to $5.50.

BUT WAIT -- THERE'S EVEN MORE. Here are 21 tips to help kids become clutter-busters. (and a lot are helpful to adults, too.)

  1. Cleaning their rooms involves making decisions. The more you help to simplify the room, the easier the cleaning and the decision-making becomes.
  2. Check out books from the library, and buy only the ones your children really love. Why spend money on books they’ll never read?
  3. If toys, books, puzzles and games don’t have a happy home that the child can reach easily to put away, then, you’ve got clutter.
  4. Help them get drawers and closet to a state where they can easily fit their clothes and other belongings into them without pushing or shoving.
  5. Make it easy to keep clothes neat. Put shoe boxes without lids in drawers to help keep clothes from getting jumbled. Maybe socks in one shoe box, underwear in another. You can use any kind of container, but if you are a true Clutter Glutton, you still have every shoe box that has ever entered your home, so you may as well use them.
  6. Put a large container (box or basket) on the closet floor for shoes, flip flops and slippers. Another one for sports equipment, art supplies, Barbie dolls or whatever.
  7. Provide containers for different toys. When they don’t know where to put things, it’s hard to keep clutter under control. Make it easy to put toys, clothes and other items where they belong.
  8. Let children help label containers (they will be more open to using them) They can be as creative as they want with the labels -- either with writing or drawing pictures. Or take photos of the child showing what goes in each container. Encourage them to “ham it up”, to hold the toy up to his face and exaggerate pointing to where it goes like we see in commercials. Have fun with it, and your child will be more open to making the system work.
  9. Put clothes hampers (or baskets or boxes) in each child’s room. Any dirty clothes not in the hamper don’t get washed.
  10. When your child receives new toys, help them select old ones to clean up and donate to a local charity. Children love the feeling of helping others.
  11. Some children have an extra twin bed in their room “for sleepovers.” But most friends know to bring a sleeping bag and pillow when they sleep over. Space is too valuable to waste on a spare bed that just collects clutter on it. Unless the extra bed is used frequently, sell it or give it away to someone who will use it, and free up some space in your child’s room. Two options that do not use up floor space are:

  12.   1.  a trundle bed where the mattress stores under the bed.
      2.  a bunk bed, but the extra bed could still become a magnet for clutter.
  13. Clear off furniture tops in the room so visual space is open, clear and clean.
  14. Set up a box or plastic bag in a permanent spot in the house, such as a closet or the garage. Encourage your children to contribute items to the donation container that you’ve set up for the family. When the bags are full, donate them to your favorite charity.
  15. Teach children to keep asking themselves, “Why keep broken toys, tired stuffed animals, books with torn pages or covers, games with broken or missing pieces?” Especially if they are no longer interested in these things.
  16. To simplify the children’s laundry, try assigning a separate “signature” color to each child for towels, sheets and blankets.
  17. Roommates handle their shared space better if a parent or someone helps to establish clear boundaries. This is Meghan’s drawer and this is Cassidy’s drawer; or this is Connor’s shelf, this is Noah’s shelf. And so on. Sometimes labels are needed to help keep things straight.
  18. When helping them de-clutter, give children the opportunity to decide what stays and what goes. If they can get rid of only a few things at first, let it be. Let them see how you’re getting rid of your stuff.
  19. If the family is working together to de-clutter one area, have a big celebration when it’s clear or a mini-celebration after one solid hour of work.
  20. Too many toys, puzzles and books? Pack some away to be brought out:

  21.   - when a babysitter comes
      - for a long car ride
      - on a rainy day
      - when visiting children have left your child feeling used and abused
      - on a sick day
      - when your child just needs a “spirit lifter”
  22. Don’t give space to games no one likes or games with broken or missing pieces.
  23. Help your children (teens need help too) to de-clutter but let them make choices. Then teach them to cultivate simple habits to help them maintain a clutter free environment.

Hope you found this helpful. Be sure to pass it on to any parents you know who might have a slightly-less-than-organized child. Again, Happy Spring Time


Free Audio Download

For the months of May and June, readers of our Tip Sheet can download free of charge a super-helpful radio audio download of Rita discussing "Kids and Clutter". In July, we will start charging for it but readers of this tip sheet can download it now for free at

The Procrastinating Child: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off is still for sale at half price. It was $11.00 and is now $5.50
It's time to get kids on the right track. There IS help and hope for you at

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

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