August 2009

THE ANTICRASTINATION TIP SHEET
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

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Quotes for August

Man alone of all the creatures on earth can change his own pattern. Man alone is the architect of his destiny.-- William James

Think of what you have rather that of what you lack. Of the things you have, select the best and then reflect how eagerly you would have sought them if you did not have them. -- Marcus Aurelius

If you canít be happy with what youíve got, youíll never be happy with what youíre trying to get. -- quoted by Buck Jacobs

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Message from Rita

When Other People's Stuff Becomes Your Clutter

Last month's topic "Leaving A Legacy of Clutter" brought an avalanche of responses. Here's a follow-up.

I told you my cousin Mike died and -- besides his mother in a nursing home -- I'm his only living relative so I'm handling his estate.

Well, last Monday, I sat with his mom and told her "We see the light at the end of the tunnel." We've taken care of everything for Mike, and her time on the waiting list for a private room is over.

With that, we went with the nursing home Administrator on a tour of private rooms, and we both assured my aunt that she will be in a private room by the end of the month. She was enthusiastic & excited about everything.

The next day --- unexpectedly and so sadly -- she died peacefully in her sleep. Obviously we are all reeling with shock & grief, but I want to share the clutter issue with you because many of your have gone through this or will go through it some day.

When a loved one dies, in addition to all the emotions involved, there is always the challenge of what to do with all their stuff. After you donate, allocate, toss, sell, recycle and give items to family and friends, there is always STILL a huge stack of "stuff" left over.

We had just found places for or moved out the last of Mike's stuff from our house, and now I have Aunt Jo's stuff covering the garage floor, dining room table, plus the kitchen counters, table and floor.

We are all exhausted -- physically, emotionally and spiritually. As you can imagine, every time I look at her lifetime's worth of treasures, I just want to cry. So here are some tips that have helped to save my sanity.

1. Know this: the main (& sometimes toughest) part of clutter-busting is making decisions. Approach all clutter DETERMINED to decide whether to keep or not. If yes, where will you put it? If no, how will you get rid of it?

2. Get a helper. Our daughter-in-law, Michelle, stepped up & spent time working with me -- giving lots of help with decisions. "Why don't we ask so-&-so if she would like this?" or "I'll take these when I leave & deliver them to the Salvation Army."

If you don't have anyone to help, call a local church and explain that you need someone just to be with you, to help you sort & decide. They usually can find some kind-hearted person to help.

3. When you feel overwhelmed, just work in short bursts. Every time I go into the kitchen, I take one item & either find a place for it, or decide how I will get rid of it. Almost all her paperwork is now in files and my counters are empty. This is a system I use when we've had a big group over and now everything is washed & stacked around the kitchen, but I just don't have the energy to put it all away at once. I'll simply put away one or two items at a time every time I go into that room.

This is a sad topic but judging from the emails I received after last month's Tip Sheet, it seems that many of you have been through this and are still struggling with your beloved person's "stuff". Here's one more thought -- keeping their unwanted stuff in NOT a sign that you love them, and getting rid of it is NOT a sign that you don't love them. It you don't want it or need it, it is OK to pass it on to someone else.

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What People Are Saying About Rita's Books

Your book Manage Your Time To Reduce Your Stress --- just like The Procrastinator's Handbook --- came to me during one of the roughest periods of my life when I needed it the most. And both times, your books saved me. Without your recent book, I don't think I would have been able to calm down and settle my thoughts amidst all the chaos of moving from San Francisco to Tokyo. Especially considering that I ended up with jury duty in the midst of it all! But I did have your book, and I was able to manage my time to reduce my stress, just like you said I could. Watch me Rita, I'm going to work your techniques and make you proud!
--- Raiman Au, Japan

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