November 2012
From Rita Emmett
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook and
The Clutter-Busting Handbook

Quotes from The Clutter-Busting Handbook by Rita Emmett

If you don't have a place to put something, it automatically & immediately becomes clutter.

Four ways to get rid of paper clutter FAST:
Stand & Deliver
Toss or Recycle

Message from Rita

Dear Perceptive Readers,
Wow, the September & October Tip Sheets about paper clutter generated an avalanche of emails. Many asked for a list of how long certain papers should be kept. I don't advise about time limits for financial papers or tax records because I'm not qualified. You have to talk to someone who works in those fields.

Otherwise, here are a few more paper clutter thoughts from me followed by MORE fantastic tips from our Perceptive Readers.

Did you ever sort your paper clutter into maybe 7 or 8 stacks, then when you looked away for a few seconds, "The Paper Clutter Gremlin" appeared and mushled them all back into one huge stack? Here's a solution.

When I first started clutter-busting, I made big signs for each of only four piles. FILE, ACT, TOSS/RECYCLE or STAND & DELIVER (those odd things that simply do not belong in my office -- I deliver them to where they belong or to the car so I can return them to their owners)
Everything goes into one of those 4 piles. Actually, the "TOSS/RECYCLE" go into the bins next to me, so I am making only 3 piles.
At first, I put these stacks into shoe boxes because I was afraid they would "slide" into each other & I'd lose stuff.

Now I'm battling MUCH less paper clutter, so I just make small stacks & there are only 3 categories: FILE, ACT, or STAND & DELIVER. But to begin with, you may need shoe boxes or baskets or something.

Next, if I could NOT create a place for a paper to belong, I had to question why. That's important. If you don't have a place to put something, it automatically & immediately becomes clutter.

One more thing. There are some papers that most of us are afraid to file away because we are working on those projects and need to keep them in sight. I have a thing that looks like little steps that holds up files. Can you picture it?
So if someone calls about a project, instead of a rummaging like a ferret through stacks of papers, I look at my little "step thing" and I can see which file I want. It is an extraordinary way to keep on top of stuff.

But the first and biggest place to start is you MUST create a home for each paper to belong. That way you have a place to put it now, and later you know where to look for it and find it when you need it.


Hi Rita,
First of all, I have to say that your two talks here at UW-Green Bay are still memorable and have helped me take action on making life choices that have been great. We have yet to have a speaker here that has affected my life as much and I know that I am not the only one.

I have a tip – I bought an iPad. I downloaded a program called Evernote. The two have kept me sane.
The iPad is bigger than a phone so I never need my glasses to read. It fits in my purse nicely. I use the Evernote program for my compulsive list-making and the beauty of it is that it syncs with my home computer. I can jot down notes anywhere and I am always up to date whether I am home or on the road. I can sit in a meeting and have a calendar, calculator, and notebook right at my fingertips, not to mention when I am traveling, I can find restaurants, best gas prices, local art galleries, etc. in seconds. The iPad and Evernote have organized me and for someone who was not tech-savvy, the learning curve was very brief!
I also downloaded another application on my iPad that is also useful. It’s called Penultimate and it is like having a sketchbook. So now I have Evernote for my notetaking, the iPad for everything else (calendar, etc.) and Penultimate (also created by Evernote) for sketching my art quilt ideas or simply handwriting notes. Good to go!
Toni Bergeon
UW-Green Bay

Dear Rita,
If you tend to tear out and save articles, scan the ones you want to keep forever into your computer and get rid of the paper. What about the ones you DON'T want to keep forever? Read 'em and recycle 'em.
Linda Brakeall
Author and Professional Speaker

Hi Rita,
Love reading your newsletters. When I saw the tips about getting rid of paper clutter, I thought I would mention this because a lot of libraries now have it. When you have a library card, you can access the library’s ZINIO database. On there, you can download all kinds of magazines on your tablet or PC – for free, every month. No cost, no clutter. It’s awesome and library patrons are loving it. Just thought I would let you know.
Linda Mulford
Arlington Heights Memorial Library


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.