The Anticrastination Tip Sheet
From Rita Emmett
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook
Quotes for the New Year
Perfectionism is NOT a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst
in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good
enough -- that we should try again. --- Julia Cameron (quoted in The Procrastinator's
Handbook by Rita Emmett)
Waiting until everything is perfect before making a move is like waiting
to start a trip until all the traffic lights are green.
--- Karen Ireland (quoted in The Clutter-Busting Handbook by Rita Emmett)
Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect. It means you've decided to
see beyond the imperfections. --- Helen Keller (quoted in Manage Your Time
to Reduce Your Stress by Rita Emmett)
Message from Rita
Can you name 3 of the top New Year's Resolutions that people make every
Do you know what my 3 topics are?? AHA! How perceptive of you. That's right.
The answers to both questions are the same.
My topics are (and my passion is) helping people to 1) break the procrastination
habit, 2) conquer clutter and 3) manage stress in a healthy way.
These three topics are covered in my books:
MANAGE YOUR TIME TO REDUCE YOUR STRESS: A HANDBOOK FOR THE OVERWORKED, OVERSCHEDULED,
Also, at my web site (which is cleverly named
RitaEmmett.com) there is help for
each of these topics with CDs, downloads, DVDs, and even on-line courses.
Would you believe that there is one specific habit/attitude that has such
a profound impact on ALL of these topics that all three of my books devote
a large chunk of space to it? Got any idea what attitude would increase
your clutter AND procrastination AND stress? Go ahead. Try to guess.
OK, I'll give you a hint…the hint is….OK, I'll tell you what it is.
It's perfectionism. Yes, expecting perfection from yourself, from those
around you … and from life. It generates procrastination, clutter and stress.
Now I'm not saying that instead of perfection, you should strive for mediocrity.
I don't think anyone who takes time to read this Tip Sheet would accept
mediocrity. What I'm saying is -- shoot for excellence. THAT is achievable.
Perfection is hardly every achievable.
Years ago, I was sitting at a table signing books after giving a Keynote
at a conference, and a woman standing in front of me said, "My house is
always a mess…. because I am a perfectionist." I looked up at her and said,
"That sounds backwards. I would think if you are a perfectionist, your house
would look perfect."
She said, "OH NO!! I was taught that the right way to wash the kitchen floor
is to move everything to one side, wash it, then move everything back.
(Now pay attention to what she said next.) If I don't have
the time or the energy to do something perfectly…. I don't do it at all."
Can you relate to that? Have you ever NOT had the time or energy to do something
perfectly….. so you just never got around to doing it??
There was a time in my life when I was an avid perfectionist. I put off
everything till the circumstance or time was perfect. Then something happened
when I was a Cub Scout Den Leader which turned my thinking upside down.
In our Den of 6 boys were twins named Pat and Mike. When we made gifts for
parents, these twins constantly looked over each other’s shoulder to make
sure their gifts were identical.
One year we made stained-glass ornaments for Christmas gifts. On a cookie
sheet, the boys placed a metal outline of a snowman or a star, then filled
the frame with plastic beads which would melt in a hot oven, and look like
stained glass. By the end of the meeting, the boys had completed everything
except we hadn’t baked the beads yet. I told them I’d bake them that evening,
and they could pick up the finished present the next day.
I don’t know what went wrong, but when I took out the ornaments, the beads
in 5 of the metal frames had bounced around and colors had mixed together.
Five ornaments were wrecked, one was perfect; it was Michael’s. The twins’
gifts didn’t match. The boys had worked so hard and now five of the Christmas
gifts were ruined. I felt terrible.
That night, a friend told me the story of how some Native Americans deliberately
put a flaw in their beadwork to remind them that this is an imperfect world
and we are imperfect people. I went to the library and found a book with
photos of Native American beadwork. There were the flaws, as obvious as
So, when the boys came to my house the next day, five of them wanted to
know why I had “wrecked” their ornaments; the sixth one, Michael, was strutting
around telling everyone how wonderful his looked. I sat them down and told
them about the Native Americans putting a flaw in their beadwork, and I
showed them photos in the library book. Then I gave them their ornaments
and sent them all home.
About twenty-five minutes later, the twins' mom called and said, “Rita,
every once in a while I need an explanation about what goes on at these
den meetings. This is one of those times.
“Can you please tell me why Patrick is grinning from ear to ear over his
little white snowman with the green blob across its belly, and Michael is
in his bedroom crying, ‘Mine’s too perfect! Mine’s too perfect!’ ”
I cherish this story and hold it close to my heart, because for me it was
the turning point in really grasping the difference between excellence and
perfection ... and the beginning of my conquering procrastination.
SO if you find that your New Year's Resolutions are already gone and forgotten,
skip them and simply start to recognize those times that you expect perfection
-- and keep reminding yourself that this is an imperfect world and we are
May your New Year be delightfully imperfect.
Do You Have A Story To Share? Let's Have A Contest.
As you know, I LOVE stories. Do you have a story about people leaving
stuff behind (not only through death, but also through divorce, kids leaving
home & leaving things behind, or any way that you have experienced.) HOW
DID YOU HANDLE IT (OR WISH YOU HAD HANDLED IT). Send us your story.
If you are the first to send an idea, you will be entered into a contest.
The top 3 winners will receive a CD, DVD or autographed book of your choice
from our web site.
I might want to share your ideas in the Tip Sheet so let me know if I can
use your name or not. Just hit reply to send me your stories.
Here's a sample story:
JB's 3 adult kids would move out, leave their stuff behind, then move back
bringing their new stuff with them, then move out again and leave MORE stuff
One day, she announced that in 2 months, she was having a garage sale. Whatever
they did not come and retrieve would be sold.
JB made enough on that sale that it paid all the lodging for a vacation
she and her husband took to Yosemite Park.
Two of their adult children accompanied them and by now, JB had learned
to treat them as adults … so she let them pay for their own lodging.
SO SEND YOUR STORIES -- YOU WILL HELP OTHERS AND…. MAYBE … even win a
book or CD or DVD. (Plus I really like reading your stories)
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:
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook and
Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress: A Handbook for the Overworked, Overscheduled,
Des Plaines, IL 60018
No trees were destroyed in the sending of this message,
but a significant number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.