March 2012
The Anticrastination Tip Sheet

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

Message from Rita


Dear Readers,

Thank you to everyone who sent tips for how to handle clutter left behind whether through death, divorce, kids growing up & leaving home, or any other way. As you might have guessed, I'm a soft-hearted Irish woman, and I could not limit it to just 3 winners.

Bruce and I had many fights over trying to get the number down to a manageable amount. (He felt that 3 was the ideal number of winners; I felt that 37 was a more reasonable number). Then he brought in two other friends to get unbiased opinions. One sided with him, the other one wanted to have EVERYONE win. (I chuckled and snickered at Bruce and said, "SEEEEE, now I'm not the World's Worst Contest Judge, am I? HA!)

Here's is what we agreed on: if someone's tip was a duplicate of one already received, we declared the winner to be the first one received. Then after much whining and bickering, we whittled it down to 8 winners. Bruce - in a pouting, cranky voice -- said this Tip Sheet will be so long, nobody will read it. So we have split the winning tips in half -- five this month and four next month. Never mind the math. Yes I snuck in another one. Please don't tell.

Each winner can select as their prize, a book, CD or DVD from our web site The tips all offer help during overwhelming and/or painfully emotional times. Here are the first five winners who sent great tips for handling "left-over" clutter.

The Keeper Of Everybody's Stuff
My stuff story has to do with my parents home after their deaths. We four kids (I am the oldest, only girl) were going to have to sell the house in which our family had lived for forty years. My mom had everybody's stuff, including old neighbors, our deceased grandmother's stuff, our deceased grandmother's deceased friend's stuff, and on and on - we had a full basement which was full!

I eventually hit on this way to handle it. I brought up/out items and put them in the living room with a sign: "Whatever is left on _____(date) will be donated."

It worked very well - we all lived somewhere else and were usually not in the house at the same time, so this gave everyone a chance to look at the items and decide without all of us having to be present. Goodwill and AmVets got quite a bit of our discards and we all had an opportunity to keep a manageable amount.

Of course, I took a lot of things too, because I don't like to throw away good stuff! But when I was getting ready to sell our house two years later, now I had all of it! So I had eight garage sales and many many many trips to the donation stores. The trick I think is to start - and keep going - a little at a time - one closet, one shelf, one dresser - just keep going!
--- Mary Jo Patterson

Allow Others To Help Take Away Clutter
A friend bought a 4-story house with a lot of stuff left in it from the previous owner. To get rid of the items he had a Garage Sale and charged very little - Ex.: a rowing machine was sold for $1! Most items were sold for less than $1.

I asked him why he didn't ask more. He told me if it didn't sell he would have to donate or toss the stuff and do all the work by himself. This way everyone else carried the stuff away! He had very little left at the end of the sale which was easy for him to donate, etc.
--- Marian

When Time Is Short
When my husband's mother passed away in Omaha, we lived in Alaska and his brother also lived far from Nebraska, so we had to empty the apartment before we could go back home. This is the story:

Don and Jim entered the apartment alone with only a yellow legal pad and a pen. They went from room to room and talked about who should take what and what to do with the things that neither wanted. They made a list of items to give to special friends and family as well. When it was done, they had spent a mere 2 hours in the apartment and came out with a detailed list of what items were going where.

It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Two brothers working together to accomplish a dreaded deed without one argument or one bit of tension. All of their mother's close friends were remembered and they both have items to remember their mother and their childhood with.

The rest of the items were given to a local charity. From start to finish it took less than two days.

Even though this went so fast, there has only been one regret on my husband's part. He wishes he would have taken mom's recipe box and her vinyl albums. He was considering the cost to move them to Alaska. They say hind sight is 20/20 and they are right, but I truly feel that if that is the only regret, they did a great job.
--- Margaret Varlamos

Keep The Spirit; Share The Stuff
This past summer my brother-in-law and his wife and children were killed in a car accident while on vacation. My husband is the executor with the responsibility of settling the estate and cleaning out the house. Imagine what your house looks like when you have leave on vacation planning to be back in three weeks. Library books to be returned. Projects left out on the tables. Stacks of mail and papers waiting to be filed.

Everything in the house speaks to creativity, generosity, and caring. An active life full of love and joy. There are very few valuable things: no heirlooms, no expensive furniture, a 20 year old television set. But there are boxes of art supplies, many files for my sister-in-law's volunteer work and my brother-in-law's design work. Lots of serving dishes and platters my sister-in-law used hosting many dinners for family and friends. School projects, books and music, a piano and a violin.

We took the food to local food closets and delivered all of the toiletries (soap, shampoo, lotions, etc.) to a domestic violence shelter. I delivered the PTA files to the people who took over the jobs Ana-Maria left.

While I was sorting though papers and files, it helped to have a friend sit with me. Someone who could help me see that the folder full of travel articles is not worth keeping but the folder of first school papers may need more thought. And someone who could be an anchor through grief that hits at unexpected times.

Doing this has made me think about my possessions and what they reflect about me. My husband jokes that we hope to leave for our children a small box of files with a check on top and nothing else. We both have a long way to go, and many possessions to shed, to get to that point. But I am giving more away and thinking more carefully about what I bring into the house.
--- Cindy Howard

Clutter Visitations
John Smith from Operation Homefront, while talking to me about the possibility of hiring me to speak to his group, shared this observation about what he calls "Clutter Visitation".
Right after his retirement from the Army, John’s mom moved into assisted living, leaving most of her stuff stored at his house.

Every once in a while, his siblings would come over to his house, sit in 120 degree heat in his attic and “visit their stuff". They’d pick up things, hold them, gaze at them, and fondle them (such as 8 track tapes which they had no way of playing, or a cat-stained sombrero their late father used to wear). Then they’d tenderly put everything back in boxes and sacks, and leave it all for big brother to keep.

He and his wife finally told them, “Don’t just come visit your stuff. If it means anything to you…take it! Your Clutter Visitations are over." They were told to take their stuff or it would disappear.
(Rita's note: I laughed at the concept of "Visitation Time". I think that goes on in more homes than we realize.)

Free Teleclass

Rita Emmett discusses:
It's Time to Stop Procrastinating about Writing Your Book

  • March 15 Class (by telephone)
  • 8:00 PM Central time (9:00 Eastern)

If you've wanted to write your book forever, but just can't get started, this is the class for you. "Recovering Procrastinator" Rita Emmett knows how you feel. She will share tips and strategies to help you figure out how to get going on your best-selling book and will de-mystify what it is agents do, how to find a great one, and the pros & cons of self-publishing versus trade publishing.
To register: go to

Click on the "Free TeleClasses" tab and select "Personal Development"

Clutter Sale At Amazon

Amazon is scheduling an “Amazon Daily Deal” promotion from March 17-25, that includes the ebook of THE CLUTTER-BUSTING HANDBOOK at a special bargain price of $1.99

Go to the "Deal of the Day" any day from March 17 till March 23 and search for THE CLUTTER-BUSTING Kindle edition (or Kindle ebook) for the great bargain price of $1.99

And while looking that up, I noticed that paperback version of THE CLUTTER-BUSTING paperback (usually $12.00) is on sale for only $4.80 (to find that, just type in The Clutter-Busting Handbook and it will pop up)~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

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.