September 2003 Anticrastination Tip Sheet

What's the opposite of Procrastination?
An Idea and Tip Sheet to Blast Away the
Procrastination Habit
From Rita Emmett
& THE PROCRASTINATING CHILD: A Handbook for Adults to Help
Children Stop Putting Things Off

Quote for September

Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a doing.
             --- Unknown


Yes, thanks to our Computer Genius, Mickey, we can now offer all our audio tapes in CD format as well. Choices so far include:

Striving For Perfection Can Drive You Nuts (and other thoughts on coping with stress) Rita speaking to a group about handling stress.

A 28 Minute Relaxation Break For Those Stress Filled Days
Rita's voice soothes you as you close your eyes and slip into total relaxation.

Conquer Your Clutter
Telephone Interview with Rita and Carol White.

Blast Away Procrastination
Rita presents a Keynote on procrastination - lots of humor & stories including how she obtained an endorsement for her book from Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Angela's Ashes.

Journey To Authorship
Rita's presentation for future authors.

Rita Tells Her Story: A 1 Hour Interview
Randy Gilbert, a skilled interviewer, promises to get Rita to reveal her inside success secrets and proven strategies for dealing with procrastination. You'll be amazed at what you'll learn in this one-hour segment.

The Things That Dreams Are Made Of
Are you interested in those dreams you dream at night? Rita teaches a fun and fascinating program in a college classroom to help you understand your dreams.

Message for September

This is way longer than the short, quick Tip Sheet you usually expect, but the Clutter issue last month generated an avalanche of emails. We were swamped with "Deep Thoughts" and tips on what seems to be a hot topic for many of you. Several thoughts were duplicates, so we used the first email received covering a tip or idea.

Here are some samples. Since I didn't ask permission to use names (and since SOME revealed personal details about the clutter in their abode or of their spouse) we've left off the names ... to protect ... the clutter-ers.

Deep thoughts on the WHEREs - HOWs - WHYs of accumulating clutter

With the mail, magazines and stuff that maybe I will read someday, it starts in a basket. When the basket is full, it gets moved to a wooden box. When the box is full, my wife moves the box to the dining room table (we only eat at that table on holidays). At that point we have a new basket and more kitchen counter space, so it starts collecting all over again. The real challenge is when the holiday comes around. At that point I finally do what I should have done in the first place--throw the stuff away!

My clutter accumulates everywhere, I'm sure if I look behind myself I'll see a tornado of clutter just following me around waiting to land where-ever I do.

My clutter tolerance has been reached. It happened about a week ago. Tonight the paper pit in the corner of the bedroom goes. Tomorrow the dining room table gets dynamited. Thanks,

We run a business out of our home and many times I'm in the middle of opening and sorting mail and bills and things that cannot be "caged" anywhere when people stop in for a visit. If I tried to hide the mess, I'd get frustrated later because it takes me two hours to get back to where I was before I caged the papers, I now just cover the dining room table (aka my office) with a table cloth.

The next emails are VERY, VERY PHILOSOPHICAL DEEP THOUGHTS, and a little beyond my comprehension. I HAD to reply to the last one --- from the Artist In Ireland. I always receive weird and goofy clutter comments from Ireland. Methinks they passionately love their clutter.

Very, very philosophical deep thoughts on clutter

I find caging the wild stuff, even if in big not-really-categorized chunks, helps me to--someday--approach it for the next step. Hmmm, is this a progression: wild to caged to tame? In which case, am I/are we acting out some internal wildness through our wild clutter that must be served, if only by clutter? Wow, this stuff is deep--or else ... I'm just procrastinating...

And now we hear from a philosophical astrologer (I think)

I have been consistently eliminating & letting go, clearing out for the past year now, a Pluto transit to my ascendant.

And now...a philosophical artist in Ireland

Those people who have tons of clutter stored away are artists of some sort - be they writers, painters, or whatever. Everything that is packed away in boxes is just a reflection of what the artists have in their minds. And those who keep these things - old magazines, bits of articles and paper, ancient books, old toys, etc. - are aware that sometimes amongst the boxes and dust, are stimuli to beautiful and interesting ideas, which through constant shuffling and rummaging, can be transformed into something very rare and precious. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

A message to the artist from Rita

I agree that artists do have to collect SOME clutter for future inspiration, but how does that explain all the papers on the kitchen counter, all the unworn clothes jammed in the closet, all the rubber bands on every single doorknob and all the junk in the trunk or bonnet or boot or whatever it is you in Ireland call that junk-collector-thingy in the back of the car. HA! Gotcha!


Tips For Getting Rid Of All Kinds Of Clutter

A tip for home....When I go through my mail, I stand by the trash can. I pitch the junk mail and then open & pitch envelopes & enclosures from bills. That way all I have left are the bills (which I resist pitching also) and the "keepers" (magazines, books, letters, etc.). I then put my bills in a magnetic clip (in order of due date) on my fridge in plain view for paying.

I do have a solution.

When do people throw out or give away the most clutter? When they are moving to a new home!

Therein lies my solution. I call it AIM, which stands for As If Moving.

When going through a bunch of clutter--caged or wild--with each item, ask yourself: if I were moving, would I put this item in a box and send it to the new place? Chances are, you will say "NO". So, even if you are not moving soon, get rid of that clutter NOW!
AIM is my aim!

My biggest Wild clutter problem is the dining table. Mail, homework, things from the teacher, activity sign ups, land there for me to go through - where to put it when we actually want to eat??

I solved it - mostly - by buying a smaller, narrow side table - but with baskets for the mail, homework, must-be-signed-and-returned, and miscellaneous. When it's trash day, the miscellaneous that hasn't become important goes in the trash.

I kept cents-off coupons in a kitchen drawer and they were never with me when I stopped at the grocery store (besides being messy).

So I started keeping the coupons in a car door pocket. Now when I run into a store to pick up a few things, my coupons can come with me. When waiting in my car for something like a traffic light, I occasionally sort through coupons and throw away ones that have expired. I have greatly enhanced my use of coupons and saved many dollars at the grocery store, while reducing clutter at home and in the car.

There are landmines all over my office floor with clutter bordering the walls, bookshelves, file cabinets and desk.

The one philosophy I have which has helped us a lot is WHEN ONE THING COMES INTO THE HOUSE, a SIMILAR ITEM HAS TO LEAVE. So, if I buy a new blouse, shirt or something, one has to be given away.

I have the "caged" clutter upstairs in my bedroom closet --- old purses, stacks of paperwork and old belts stuffed to the ceiling.

I have the "wild" clutter in my basement --- everything from outdated exercise equipment to drywall to old stereo equipment. I just didn't know where I'd find the time to start this enormous project of cleaning and tossing.

The best way to start both projects is for me to stop thinking I need 8 solid hours of free time to do them. I can do 15 minutes a day - or how much time I have available - and start organizing.

I've decided to give a lot of the stuff I have to AMVETS. They'll even come to the house and pick up.

Rubbermaid is my best friend. I love going to my closet and seeing all my stuff in neat boxes (I just recently did my shoes that way).

  1. Seasonal Selections: 4 X's per year: Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter, have a seasonal selection party at your house. Have every family member participate and have each person pick out items they wish to give to charity, or second hand stores.
  2. Instead of the typical garage sale sign, use your imagination: "COME ON OVER...OUR BEAUTIFUL TRASH, COULD BECOME YOUR BEAUTIFUL TREASURE."

  3. At your next garage sale, instead of tagging and pricing everything, just put up a sign, MAKE ME A REASONABLE OFFER I WON'T REFUSE!!! Both parties can negotiate.

DON'T DIE WITH YOUR JUNK. Gather all of the things you are saving from your childhood or your kid's childhood. Make a box for each family member and put appropriate items in each box. This includes bronze shoes, clay hand molds, hand made valentines, holiday decorations and cards, letters, toys, locks of hair, baby books, teeth, photos, etc. ... Invite the kids over and make a big deal out of giving the precious items back to them for safe keeping.

Also gather up household items that you are saving for sentimental reasons, you don't use or are too good to throw away. Let the kids divvy them up. If they don't want the stuff, call the antique dealer, donate it to charity or put out on trash day. That's what the kids
would do if you died tomorrow.

The single best paper-clutter reducer is the computer. A piece of paper can be tossed when it is either put on a computer "note" or calendar item.

Take pictures of things with "sentimental value" that you should dispose of. What would take up several cupboards is now reduced to a couple of inspiring album pages.

Organizational tips:

  • Carry address labels for when that info is needed.
  • Put 5 plastic liners in the bottom of wastebasket

This ends the winners of the contest. Got any more deep thoughts on clutter?

  1. What if a family's yard is filled with toys, boxes, and just plain junk. Nothing dangerous, but it's all been our there for over a year. The plastic toys are faded by the sun, the cardboard boxes disintegrating from the rain. It doesn't bother the family but the neighbors hate it.
  2. What if one spouse has "stuff" and the other calls it clutter.
  3. What if you've been collecting something for years, and now it just seems junky to you.


  • Who decides what is clutter?
  • When does "stuff" become clutter?

Got any thoughts on the subject? Let's hear from you. The 17 winners from last month (yes, yes, it should have been 5. The Blue Ribbon Committee of Judges was exceedingly undisciplined ... and soft hearted) had a choice of a CD or audio tape of:

  • Procrastination & Finances (interview)
  • Conquer Your Clutter (interview)
  • Blast Away Procrastination (presentation)
  • Journey To Authorship (presentation)

If you are one of the winners this month, you'll have that same choice. These products can be found on our Products Page.