August 2003 Anticrastination Tip
What's the opposite of Procrastination?
THE ANTICRASTINATION TIP SHEET
An Idea and Tip Sheet to Blast Away the
From Rita Emmett
Author of THE PROCRASTINATOR'S HANDBOOK
& THE PROCRASTINATING CHILD: A Handbook for Adults to Help
Children Stop Putting Things Off
Quote For August
Simplify your life. You do not need all the clutter you are
holding on to. Get rid of it now because it is stealing your
energy. The clutter in your life takes energy to maintain.
Start with the smallest things. Clear away a little and
you'll be amazed at the vast amounts of energy it releases
inside of you.
- John Roger
A Clutter Safari
Have you ever heard a great tip to get rid of clutter, and when
you tried it, nothing worked?
Either the tip didn't make the clutter go away, OR the clutter
went away but 5 minutes later it returned.
We've all tried clutter tips that just didn't work, and by Jove,
I think I've discovered the reason why. In reality, there are
two types of clutter -- but nobody has identified them so that
we can know if the tip we just read is for the right kind of
clutter. Well, maybe not the RIGHT kind, but for the kind of
clutter that YOU are battling.
Here are a few labels I want to run by you. I'd love your
reaction or comments, especially if you relate to any of this.
Let's divide clutter into two types -- like jungle animals,
clutter can be "WILD" or "CAGED".
CAGED clutter is usually out of sight, and like an animal,
when clutter is in its "cage", it tends to be contained and
sort of "under control" (though not completely).
For example, those times you don't know where to put
something so you "put it in its cage" - could be a certain
desk drawer, or the attic, garage or crawl space.
Other spots for caged clutter might be:
- kitchen "hell drawer"
- that spare room
- junk drawer
- "in box"
- under the bed
Now, with caged animals in the zoo, some people
that the animal needs to be in a more natural habitat. Same
with caged clutter. It's OK where it is, but all that clutter
would be much better off in a place where it is no longer
clutter. Best place is "thrown away or given away",
especially to a group that can use it.
WILD clutter, on the other hand, is when a bunch of stuff
starts to accumulate and grow and expand right out in the
open where it bugs you, embarrasses you, makes you crazy
and sometimes even scares you. It goes where it does not
belong, usually some place right in front of your face like
your desk, dining room table or bedroom floors.
Lots of other places too, like:
- kitchen counter
- top of file cabinet
- coffee tables
- office floor
- night stands
- corner of room
Wild Clutter has no boundaries and wanders
wherever it pleases,
and like that jungle animal, it's more potentially dangerous than
caged clutter. In this case, because it causes more stress, guilt, and anxiety. And sometimes we find ourselves dusting that wild
clutter. How frustrating is that?
Caged Clutter is in a space set aside for clutter, this clutter
BELONGS here. This is where we put our clutter. But Wild
Clutter accumulates in places it does NOT belong.
Doesn't it make sense then, that a Caged Clutter tip would
never work on Wild Clutter? If the tip you read applies to
Caged Clutter (such as your garage clutter or your junk
drawer clutter) and suggests that you get containers to put
things in, that might work IF you are focusing on your
Caged Clutter. Then you might even continue to keep that
place neat with your containers.
But if you're staring at a dining room table or an office floor
covered with tons of junky clutter, how the heck are those
containers supposed to help you? You don't have a clue
what you'll be finding in that stack of clutter, so how would
you even know what kind of containers to get? Or how many?
Alas, my metaphor limps in one regard. With animals, there
is a third category. Besides WILD and CAGED, there also
are TAME animals. Does that apply to clutter? Nope,
because I believe that once your clutter is TAMED, it's no
For example, my mother always told me that everybody has
a "hell drawer" in their kitchen, overflowing with junky, useless
stuff that they cannot throw out.
I believed her, and always fostered a hell drawer in my
kitchen, even though the rest of the house was usually
clutter-free. Then one day about 3 years ago, I was at a
garage sale and bought a big ol' box of little containers. I went
home, ran them through the dishwasher (because they were
dusty and grungy and I was too lazy to hand-wash all of them)
then went prowling through the house looking for places that
needed little containers.
I emptied everything out of my hell drawer, looked at what
categories I had, and put all the rubber bands in one little
square container, all the pens in a rectangular container,
the thumb tacks in a round one, and so forth.
Then I threw out probably half of what was in there -- because
I finally admitted I had no use for it, and probably never would.
To this day, I do not know what I planned to do with a million
itty bitty pieces of string, and thirty-seven squashed, smashed
bows for holiday presents.
Suddenly, my Caged Clutter was tamed. And because our kids
are all grown and out of the house, it's been fairly easy for Bruce
and me to put things back into their designated containers.
Which means that now, three years later, my hell drawer is no
longer a cluttered mess. It no longer makes me feel guilty or
crazy or stupid or disorganized or messy or sloppy or like "I
better straighten it out someday when I get around to it". In
truth, it's no longer a hell drawer.
So to my way of thinking, once clutter is tamed, it is no longer
What do you think?
These are terms and concepts I've developed while working in my
seminars. Tell me, what do you think of these labels and these to
categories? Do you relate to this? Let me hear from you.
- Where does your clutter accumulate?
- Why do you keep it?
- What's your best way to get rid of it?
The five best responses -- decided upon by a panel of experts
(possibly including my letter carrier, my cat and one of our
two-year-old granddaughters) will receive an audio tape. If you
prefer a CD, I'll see if Mickey, my computer genius can make
that happen. That sort of magic is out of my reality realm.
See you next month. Hope to hear from you if you have "Deep
Thoughts About Clutter"