April 2012
The Anticrastination Tip Sheet

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

Message from Rita

Dear Readers,
Here is the other half of the fabulous winning tips from our Contest for "Clutter Left Behind (through Death, Divorce, Kids Growing up & Leaving Home, or Other Ways People Leave Their Clutter With You)"

Invite Everyone Over
My mother-in-law, Dorothy, passed away unexpectedly a few years ago. She had a one-bedroom apartment with the usual assortment of clutter from 75 years worth of living.

In order not to pay another month's rent, we had ONE WEEKEND to completely clear this apartment and most of the family worked full-time jobs.

We started by inviting all the family and friends who we thought would be a help and not a hindrance. One of her sons declined as he said there was nothing in the apartment that he wanted. We started the process by asking the daughter if she wanted an item first because she did not own any furniture or home goods of her own.

My husband and I said "yes or no" on the next item and then we turned to the relatives and friends: Anybody know anyone who could use this? We filled car trunks and truck beds and trash bags. For the items that no one wanted, we took two carloads to the local Salvation Army.

We completely cleared out and cleaned the apartment and storage building in a day and a half and all went home happy.
--- Joy East

Mama's Marvelous Gifts
Okay Rita, thought I'd share what my mom did to each of us kids after we left home and had a place of our own. Every time Mom would visit she'd bring something she'd baked plus a big cardboard box or boxes (1 to 3 at a time) which contained our stuff.

When all my stuff that I had left at home was returned to me--she then started on things she wanted out of her house. Literally, our entire bedrooms went to each kid -- bed, dressers, mattress, bedding EVERYTHING. (They had a pickup truck and none of us moved further than 60 miles away).

Thinking back I remember grandma (her mom) bringing "gifts" to us kids every time she visited. We all learned quickly not to give mom or dad anything unless it could be used up by them. Otherwise ---you guessed it --- it made its way back to the giver.

My sister did the same to her daughters. She went a step further-- giving away her china & serving dishes once her daughters were married. Her theory was: if they're coming to visit, we are eating out, or on paper because I'm not slaving over cooking food or cleaning up. I'm enjoying my kids & grandkids. Smart women!

I'm gleefully waiting till my boys get homes of their own. I have visions of the boxes they'll get.
--- Ann Lynne

His Left-Overs
Here's a "Stuff-left-behind" tip for divorce.

When my ex left, he said he didn't want "any of that crap". Years later when he said he wanted certain things, I said nope. I didn't think I owed him anything. I'd sold them, given them away or chosen to keep them myself.
--- Elle J.

Honor The Time Needed
When my father passed away, my three sisters and I thought we were doing our mother a HUGE favor by immediately cleaning out closets and drawers so she would not have to do it herself. The four of us scoured the place clean without giving Mom a chance to say yes she wanted that or no she didn’t. She was left with a household full of their furnishings and albums but not much more.

When my husband died many years later, my kids were going to do the same for me. Luckily a good friend, a recent widow herself, gave me great advice at the wake.

She said that I should not feel obligated to get rid of anything until I was ready. This was all mine now and I could do with it what I wanted. So when my kids showed up the day after the funeral I told them “Touch any of that & you are dead meat”. The 3 of them gave me this blank stare. I told them, "Mrs. H said I don’t have to get rid of it until I'm ready. I’m not ready."

My children had a great deal of respect for Mrs. H so they didn’t argue. Instead we all sat around the dining room table, ate funeral food and talked about all the things Dad loved and the good times we had on summer vacations.

The kids asked me to set a date when I'd be ready and I said "Give me a month." When that date rolled around, I still wasn't ready and needed another month. During those two months and while going through his things with the kids, I tucked away several precious items that I wanted to give to my children as they grew older and more appreciative of their dad's treasures.

Last year, I gave our son a hunting knife that he and my husband watched being forged when he was a child. Another item I gave him was a black powder pistol that my husband HAD to have. It was the kind used by the Calvary in the 1800’s. My son was ecstatic. I was happy that I had stashed it away.

One thing I would have done differently is I would have consulted my mother before cleaning her out. My good intentions were not in her best interest as I came to appreciate with my husband’s passing. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It is always 20/20.
--- Kathleen Reilly Teal, Broomfield, CO

Thank you to everyone who submitted your tips and advice.

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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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