May 2002 Anticrastination Tip Sheet

What's the opposite of Procrastination?
A monthly Idea and Tip Sheet to
Help You Avoid the Procrastination Habit
From Rita Emmett


Quote For The Month:

If you don't have room for all your stuff, you don't need more room, you need less stuff.
--- from Rita's soon-to-be released book,
THE PROCRASTINATING CHILD: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off



Rita has just found out that The Procrastinator's Handbook has sold more than 100,000 copies. This is a really big deal for a first time author. 

At the end of this tip sheet are more great ideas from our Conquer Clutter Contest, but first, here is PART TWO of our CONQUER CLUTTER CAMPAIGN:

Does your house need some "spring de-cluttering"? How about your garage? Office? Desk? Basement? Closets? Car?

Change your thinking about clutter, and it will go away. Really! Let the Clutter BUGS help you attack all that junk taking up valuable space in your life.

Clutter B-U-G-S
Break now the habit of "Save, collect and keep."
Undertake some action - don't leave things in a heap.
Get rid of stuff that clutters up your brain.
Stop bringing in more clutter that starts it all again.

Let's start with the "B" of BUGS, and ask yourself some questions that will help you release some of your beloved clutter:

Break now the habit of "Save, collect and keep."

  • Why are you keeping this?
  • Do you really believe you'll ever use this again?
  • If YOU wouldn't use it but you think someone else might need it --- what if they ever DID need it, would you remember you had it?
  • If you DID remember you had it, could you find it when it's needed?
  • Do you keep it because you once loved it, or it once served a purpose but no longer does?
  • Do you keep it because you once loved collecting it, but now that collection annoys you, takes up too much room, and clutters up your place.
  • Can you get rid of 3 things every day?

Undertake some action - don't leave things in a heap.

  • Did you ever sort through a stack of clutter, then walk away from those stacks, and in the blink of an eye, the clutter gremlins appeared and mushed them all together again? Wasn't your sorting- time just wasted?
  • Select a place to keep everything and put everything in its place.
  • Can you ask a friend to help you get rid of some of your stuff?
  • Can you always make it a habit to undertake action once you sort - when you de-clutter, you've gotta bring things to where they belong - the garage, the neighbor's house, the store you've been meaning to return it to, where ever. De-cluttering involves ACTION. Everyone should have a "de-cluttering sign" that says SIT & SORT, STAND & DELIVER

Get rid of stuff that clutters up your brain.

  • Do you procrastinate in deciding whether to keep this or not?
  • If you decide to keep it, do you procrastinate in deciding where to put it?
  • If you decide NOT to keep it, do you put off deciding how to get rid of it?
  • If you're a true pack rat, I'd never ask you to throw anything in the trash, because in the middle of the night, when we're all sound asleep, you'll be tippy-toeing out to the garbage can to sneak it back into the house.
  • Would it be easier to get rid of if it was going to someone who appreciated it?
  • Maybe a call to a local Family Service Agency, church, synagogue or your city hall clerk might help you find a worthy place to donate it.
  • Do you make it convenient to "Get rid of stuff"? Have plenty of wastebaskets around the house?
  • Can you put a plastic bag or box in a closet, and every time you want to get rid of something, put it in there. Then, when a bunch of clutter accumulates, you can take it to where you want to donate it.

Stop bringing in more clutter that starts it all again.

  • When I teach Stress Management classes, I ask: 1) What's your greatest source of stress and 2) what do you do to handle stressful times?
  • Many, many times people will say, "My biggest source of stress is clutter" So I ask them what do they do when stress hits, and they'll tell me "I go shopping". Do you see any connection between the two? OR they'll answer, "My biggest source if stress is I don't have enough money to pay my bills" and in answer to the how-to-handle-stress question, they will say "I go shopping". Do you see a connection? When you consider buying something that you don't really need, ask yourself:
  • Do I have a place for this?
  • Will this add to my clutter?
  • Why the heck am I spending my hard-earned cash to ADD to my clutter? When Bruce and I are at a store, and I admire something, he always asks, "Want to buy it?" I tell him, no - pretend we're at a museum and we're simply admiring stuff, but not buying. It works.

Enjoy admiring but you don't HAVE to buy everything you admire.
Happy De-cluttering.


Conquer Clutter Contest Winners

Here are more great tips from our readers. Each will receive a copy of the 2 newest tapes on the Product page of our web site (

  1. CONQUER YOUR CLUTTER - a one hour interview with Carolyn White asking Rita about all aspects of getting rid of clutter
  2. BLAST AWAY PROCRASTINATION - this is Rita giving a presentation on the subject, and it includes humor and several stories such as how she got the endorsement from Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela's Ashes

Plus they each receive a giant thank you from Rita, because many of YOU wrote to say you loved those ideas. So here are

More Brilliant Ideas From Our Readers To Help Us Conquer Clutter

TIP #1
Dear Rita,

Here are a few ideas that have helped me conquer clutter.

* garage - Make a rule, be firm, say "the garage is for my car", and clean it out annually ( if your really nice car is in the garage you wouldn't want it to get scratched, would you?)

* mind -If you do it, it is done, you don't have to think about it anymore.

* anyplace else - Don't just stash it, Trash it! (or find it a home, put it away where it belongs, donate it! Taking the time to deal with it now means you are free from it's clutter.)

N. K. Peck

TIP #2
Here's my favorite tip for the kitchen counter:

I bought an upright file (in contrast to a traditional "in box" type file) in which I place all of my husband's stuff - mail, catalogues, bills, notes, children's test papers to look over and discard, etc. The upright file takes up very little space and he can empty it when he wants to. Saves me from running downstairs and placing it on his desk or from clogging up the kitchen counters.

Favorite Living Room/Front Room Tip:

We recently bought new Front Room furniture and both of the end tables and the coffee table have drawers. We can hide the TV remote, dog brush, catalogs, magazines, etc. IN the tables which has greatly de-cluttered our family room.

Patti Hathaway, Professional Speaker and Change Agent

TIP #3
To tidy clutter of garden tools in the garage / shed:

Nail a length of 2 x 1 into the wall at about eye level and then a series of pairs of nails just wider than the thickness of the handles of each tool. You can then hang the spade, fork, rake, hoe, brushes ... all heads up / handles down.

Measure as you go, by holding each tool in its place, before you hammer in its pair of support nails. That way they all hang there together and don't interfere with one another. It can be fun to outline the shape of each tool on the wall with a narrow paint line. Then everyone knows which tool goes where ... forever.

No more excuses.

Robert Jordan, Professional Speaker ("The Rut Man")

TIP #4
I take plastic egg trays, and use them to separate some of the jewelry I don't use...such as earrings, necklaces (small, of course), etc. It keeps them separated, and then you can put saran wrap over the top, and keep them dust free too!

I have a fetish for ziploc bags though...I use them for everything. I put any loose cord (such as extension cords, telephone cords, or headset cords, etc.) in small ziploc bags. I use the bags to keep phone (cell and regular) adapters separated, and untangled...and it works really well! I use them also to keep cat and dog toys, collars, etc., separated, and then put all into a box, preferably with lid...and then labeled. I use empty boxes which held stationary to store rubber bands, paper clips, etc. I also use the pretty ones (the ones with decorated tops) for my bathrooms...storing cotton pads, hair clips and bobbi pins, etc. Things are stored, and the bathroom doesn't look cluttered.

Leslie Buck

TIP #5

Here are my tips for getting rid of home office clutter. I know they work, because I devoted the month of February to getting rid of the clutter in our home office.

1. First, put on some fun, upbeat music, and tell yourself, at the end of ten / fifteen songs, this chore will be over, or at least finished for this day.

2. Organize all of your paperwork into those multicolored 4 to 6 inch expandable pocket folders. (Don't buy the brown ones....they're too drab and depressing!)

3. Place specific papers in each of these pocket folders....for example, recipes you've recently collected, charge card and ATM banking receipts, a few mail order catalogues that you REALLY want to read, generalized junk, etc. At the end of the month, dump the stuff except of course for the current charge card and banking receipts, and the recipes you really will use. ( Come on, now, a chocolate ganache that takes 3 days to prepare may look inviting, but who am I kidding....I will probably never tackle anything like that).

4. For the important stuff that you have in pocket folders, e.g, insurance papers, tax forms,.....put those in their own place in a file cabinet.

5. Invest in a really good shredder. Well, you know, you can use it to shred the old credit card receipts of the things you don't have anymore -- like the "great bargain", but too small sized jacket that I gave away four years ago, or the blender that died a slow death when I accidentally let a wooden spoon get too near the whirly vortex- my own version of wood chips!

6. Finally, buy some strong trash bags, and then, once a week, just fill one up right before you put the trash out. Has to be "right before" the trash goes out. Otherwise, you might get remorseful, and want to take something back in the house!

See, Rita, you have had a great effect on me. One room down, and many more to go......

Connie Hill

TIP #6
A tip on conquering clutter of all kinds...

Anchors and Wings

Whether you're uncluttering your physical space, your mind, or your heart, ask yourself, "Is this object, person, thought, feeling, etc. an anchor that keeps me stuck or wings that carry my spirit." Keep the wings, rid yourself of the anchors.

Copyright 2002 by Terri L. Neil


NEXT MONTH: Our CONQUER CLUTTER CAMPAIGN will tackle getting rid of your PAPER CLUTTER. (Get ready to rent a dumpster. We're clearing off your desk)