April 2008 Anticrastination Tip Sheet

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


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


Message from Rita

Halleluiah! It's springtime. That means warm breezes, daffodils, hearts hoping that this is the year the Cubs win the World Series, it's the end of snow, and time for spring cleaning.
No, no, no - not vacuuming and window washing.
It's time to clear up the clutter and grunge and grime on our computers.

Are you joining me in my email clutter-busting rampage?
If you don't need to, bully for you. Now go wash windows.
BUT if your emails are out of control and you want to bring some order to your in-box, what are you waiting for? If you simply cannot get yourself started, then consider getting either a copy of
The Procrastinator's Handbook or The Procrastinator's Online Course

I still have a way to go with my gazillion emails, but have made great progress in deleting and am starting a filing system. If you are new to this Tip Sheet or missed last month's 14 fabulous tips to gain control of your email, then click here to read about ways to conquer your computer clutter.

Many of you wrote to tell me of your success already in getting your emails down to a manageable 10 or 20 or 30 or 200 (some are doing better than others), a few comedians wrote that "I'll get around to it one of these days" and several sent some fabulous tips. Some of you might need simple tips, others might need more advanced, complex tips. As you might guess, some of these tips not only don't I need yet, I don't even understand them, but you might. Here they are:

Tips from Readers:

Dear Rita
Have your program filter mass mailings (New York Times, Paris Hilton's blog, those tiresome love notes from Brad Pitt) from sites you want to read "when your real priorities free up"
Great newsletter. Delete.
Diane Hansen, Colorado
A note to Diane who deletes my tip sheet. "Diane, the Anticrastination Tip Sheet is NOT clutter." And now here are two tips for on-line buying.

Hi Rita,
One folder I use is one for "Bought stuff". In here I put EVERYTHING to do with online buying, including such things as my plane ticket confirmations.
Robert Jordan, Ireland

Dear Rita,
I used to do the same thing as Robert but now I copy the text and paste it into a text file and store it in 'My Documents' in an "orders" folder.
Web Goddess Mickey, Wisconsin

A tip I just put into practice: Unsubscribe to the newsletters, etc, that you don't get around to reading. You probably won't miss them. I don't. It was such a big reduction in my email that I am sometimes disappointed to see I don't have any or much email. It helped me as part of my de-cluttering.
Mark M. Latham
A note to Mark who Unsubscribes to newsletters. "Mark, you aren't going to unsubscribe to THIS one, are you? Ohhhhh, please say it isn't so."

I receive E-Mail into my computer via a big server (and don't ask me what it is, but its name is Comcast). I use Outlook for E-Mail, which uses Microsoft Word for editing - handy for saving things as Word docs. Since I send and receive email which is personal, professional; correspondence as well as newsletters and research journal references, etc. etc., it is a job to keep it all straight.

Also, I consider personal email to be "Save" material, because I correspond a lot, and such mail acts, eventually, as my journal, my life written down, and I treasure the posts from others for that reason as well as for their content.

Here's what I do (when it works):
The server sends everything to the computer and I've got it set to keep a copy as well. My laptop I use almost exclusively for work, so I have filters set so that when all the mail pours into the laptop, everything personal and commercial (you know, shopping) goes straight to the junk box. Other things are shunted to separate boxes for Reading, by subject; Techno-Gizmo Info I may or may not read, and more.
What I actually see in my In-box is a small amount of manageable mail, most of the time.

At home, I have set up boxes to send professional mail not to Junk (in case - yes, I know - I need it sometime)
Again, boxes and Rules I have set to receive political mail, shopping mail and a variety of other things I might never get to, but it allows me the fantasy without actually interfering with what I need to do. I have a box for Family, but mail goes to such boxes only after I've seen them in the In-box. I can ignore the boxes for long periods of time, and I don't want to miss the important stuff from inattention.

There are times I must handle things more than once. At work, I must often acknowledge receipt of an inquiry about my services before I have the actual time to give it a substantive response. In such cases, I'll tap out a right-now note saying thanks and I'll get back to you in "x" days. I also tell people I never mind reminders (true), and will be grateful if I receive one, because I prefer to do what I set out to do than not.
Generally, given that much of my work is to do with people with AD/HD or their family members, this is encouraging, though they can forget to remind me. I don't consider it their responsibility so much as an aid I can use to be helpful to them.
Betsy Davenport, PhD, Clinician in Private Practice, Oregon

Hi Rita,
What would help all of our email clutter would be if:
1. People who are responding to an individual who sent an email to a group would click on "reply" and not on "reply all" so that the entire list does not get a response that is really only for the initial sender.
2. Everyone who sends out emails to a list has the list set up in a way that prevents the "reply all" option in some way.
Madeleine Van Hecke, PhD, Illinois
Author of Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

If you receive e-mail that "might" be required in a legal action, then either keep all of the e-mails associated with that "subject" or create a deletion policy that you follow carefully, such as you will delete anything in that category after 30 days or 90 day or whatever. Remember, the IRS requires documents to be kept for a "period of time" and a number of other governmental agencies also have time requirements.
Remember, there is no such thing as a "deleted" e-mail.
Remember to develop your own policy with respect to "back-up" files.
If you do get called into court, remember less is better, but you must have a solid explanation for your deletion policy and must be able to demonstrate that you follow that policy.
If you have sensitive information on your computer, you must protect it so it does not get into the hands of those who do not have a "right" to have it.
R. Brian Walsh, Wisconsin

1. Delete junk and/or forwards with large attachments immediately
2. Email friends and family who are chronic "forwarders" to take my name off their email list.
3. Direct all stores/special event/promotional emails to a different folder using email filters.
4. Do not be afraid of deleting email. The sender can "almost always" re-send an email again.
5. Do not forward chain letters - ever! No evil has befallen on me *touch wood* in 12 years of email use.
~ Sabz

Hi Rita,
Be sure to use your Spamblocker if your Internet service provider offers it. That way, your in-box won't be cluttered with e-mail that you're going to delete anyway.
I glance at my spam list just to see if any legitimate e-mail landed there. I move the real e-mail to my in-box but I don't open any of the rest of them. I can then delete all of the spam entries with a single click.
Joy East, Jonesboro, GA

OK, Reader, Happy Spring Computer Cleaning. And remember, many tip sheets are clutter but this one is NOT!!

Here is one more happy customer who raves about The Procrastinator's Online Course

Thanks, Rita.
I really love your course. The video clips are very motivating and for visual-spatial people like me, keep me focused and reinforces the points made.
Plus, you have a great sense of humor and an easygoing manner that encourages me to actually stick with the program.

I had no idea just how much I have let procrastination and clutter affect my life until I faced the cold splash of reality of it while filling out the assessment. This is an extremely useful tool that is the equivalent of holding up a private mirror into one's secret little habits. In the 18 hours since I began your online course, I already have made some positive changes that have made an impact on how I choose to use my time better by investing in myself. What a concept! Well done.

Perhaps there is hope for me yet! Great job and thanks for being courageous and sharing your ideas with the rest of us.
Michaline Siera, Illinois

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