March 2008 Anticrastination Tip Sheet

What's the opposite of Procrastination?
An Idea and Tip Sheet to Blast Away the
Procrastination Habit
From Rita Emmett


Quotes for March:

How you gather, manage, and use information will determine if you win or lose.
--- Bill Gates


Message from Rita

When the Email File System Becomes Email Chaos

The very first time management tip I ever heard was "Handle each piece of paper only once." I always applied that advice to minimize paper clutter in my life and sort of thought I was applying it to my emails.

However, one day web goddess Mickey got a glimpse of my email In-Box. She turned white, and her eyes got funny. I didn't know whether to worry or not, but she finally regained consciousness and came after me like some demented crusader.
"OK, Clutter Lady, what's this?" sez she.
"My emails," sez me.
"ALL of these hundreds and hundreds need replies??" choked she.
"No, they are all taken care of." croaked me.

I wanted to point out to her that "In-Box" implies "IN" so that's where I put them in. However, Mickey was starting to look like a fire goddess of war. She had grown 12 feet tall with flames and a spear.

But perhaps that was just my imagination.

So I very logically explained to her, "That's my filing system." What followed was a long, Long, LONG conversation that ended with me whining that I'm a low-tech woman in a high-tech world and Mickey calling the pharmacy to order a five-gallon drum of Valium. <g>

The result is a list we made up that I'll be working on this month. Feel free to join me. If I can do this, so can you.

(because keeping every single email you ever received is NOT an effective filing system)

  • Treat email - whether at home or at work -- as you would treat your snail mail.
  • Delete the junk mail without opening or reading it.
  • Decide on set times to work on emails. Twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon are adequate. You don't have to check every time a voice announces,  "You've got mail".
  • Make decisions with emails the minute you open them and respond to every one  that you can right away. To say, "I'll reply later" might lead to Computer Clutter because often - "later" never comes.
  • The ones that you cannot reply to right away should be filed in an "Urgent" folder or marked as "unread" so you can get to it as soon as you have the time.
  • Create a folder called "Responded" or "Done" for those emails you have replied to but still need to follow up on. Check it at the end of each week.
  • Make a "To Read" folder for all those good newsletters and great tip sheets. Read them when you need a break or at the end of the day.
  • Rather than moving each person's email to individual folders, group them together. (Friends, Work, Special Interest, Committee, Clutter tips, Urgent)
  • Read Computer Clutter (page 130) in The Clutter-Busting Handbook
  • Don't get sucked into forwarding jokes, poems, and stories when you don't have the time.
  • Write a descriptive subject that informs enough so if the recipients file your emails, later they don't have to open them and read the messages again to know what they're about. (Web goddess Mickey says writing HELP!! as the subject of every email is NOT descriptive enough. Picky Picky Picky)
  • Every time you start to write an email, ask, "Do I have time to do this. Is this the best use of my time right now?"
  • Start to clear out your emails and set a goal to have no more than 10 to 20 in your In-Box. You will gain control of your email clutter and find your emails are much more manageable.
  • And last, for all those emails that cause a panic attack at the thought you might need it some day, create a file called "What if I need this" and put all those oddball emails in there. Or, better yet, copy the email and paste it into a text file or Word document and delete it from your mailbox.

Let's hear from YOU. What are your favorite ways of handling emails? Send your tips to
I PROMISE I won't let your email turn into Computer Clutter.
Closing Thought:
On those days when everything seems frustrating and stressful, think about how lucky you are that you are not my technology advisor.



Here's an email about how much help The Procrastinator's Online Course provides:

Dear Rita,
Love your "Procrastinator's Online Course." I've taken many assessment tests and yours is worth more than the cost of the whole course. It helped me figure out where my strengths and weaknesses were in my procrastination habit. No small thing, that.
Now I'm almost through the next section and already I've processed a batch of invoices that have been nagging at me for weeks, and I've made a huge dent in the inevitable paper clutter on my desk. Are you proud?
The next section is on clutter and I'm really looking forward to it. The only other ways I could get all this information is to read a LOT of books, or to pack up and take a 3 or 4 week class at my local college. Also, I loved the videos.
This was a great investment in myself and it is paying off already. Thank you for sharing your brilliance with the world!

Linda Brakeall, author of Unlocking The Secrets of Successful Women in Business and How To Get Men to Take You Seriously in Business and in Life

Dear Readers,
We offered a 50% discount on our "Procrastinator's Online Course" last month but after receiving several emails (such as the one above) about how much the course has helped people, we have decided to extend the bargain price 50% discount through the month of March.
If you want to read more about it, click here