Human create information - The Chive

How will I ever get through all this information?

Humans create a LOT of information  - The ChiveDuring the late sixties, I had a couple of pen pals. During the summer months, we’d keep in touch by writing letters to one another on pretty stationary. Since their stationary looked better than mine did, I made up for it with my calligraphy-like penmanship in different colors.

We’ll come back to the good old days in a moment.

WHAT HAPPENED during the last forty-five years?

Word is: there’s just too much information!

Actually, that’s more than a word–it’s a sentence–an exclamation, to be exact.

Why do we feel so overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious?  AAAAARRRRGGGGGHHH!

When will we ever get through all this information?

The truth is we won’t. Period. I have trouble admitting this.

I still think I can do it all.

Perhaps, I’m stuck with memories of the long days during childhood. The days felt endless–especially, during the school year. Life would last forever.

Now, in my fifties, the days, weeks, months, and seasons move so fast, I have to nail the clocks on the wall to prevent them from flying off. How can I hold onto time when the clocks can’t?

Reality pushes us to decide what we can do.

I just want to reminisce as I reflect once more.

The older we are the less time we have to spread across all the things we want to do. Like the friend who has a terminal diagnosis, our limited lifetime forces us to decide where we want to focus our attention.

Time does not judge. It marches on. We can’t save some for a rainy day. Time keeps moving rain or shine.

It’s up to us to decide how we want to use our time.

I will reflect on my past. I will skim other information. I will save some things, but I will get rid of most.

The numbers in these articles are eye opening. They help us to better face reality.

There’s just too much information to keep up.

Can we ever go back to the Good Old Days?

My two pen pals and I wrote three letters every two weeks. At least, that’s the letter-writing pace we set at the start of summer. By the mid-summer (a blink of an eye in Wisconsin), that number had dropped to one every two weeks. Still, we eagerly anticipated a letter from the mailman (that’s what we called mail carriers back then). Sometimes, there was no mail and he walked by our home.

We hardly write letters by hand anymore. Who has the time? We’re too busy emailing back and forth. Some of us write dozens of emails daily while others write at least one.

When LIFE grows too overwhelming and you feel like a Model T trying to keep up on one of Los Angeles’ freeways, consider the speed at which information is growing–from a Model T’s 20 to 40 miles per hour to satellites traveling at 17,500 miles per hour!

It’s getting harder and harder to jump off the information super highway and it’s also harder to keep up to speed.

Photo credit: The CHIVE  Facts that show just how far the human race has come. One of 32 photos.



The Cost of Content Clutter Infographic from Newstex

Infographic by: Newstex.


Are Pets Messier Than Kids?

Pets are like kids in many ways. We love and take care of them. We buy clothes and toys for them. They make a mess and do not clean up after themselves!

Thanks to their owners (us), our pets tend to accumulate too much stuff. Toys, clothes, beds, and blankets are scattered about the house.


Eventually, our beloved pet passes on. What do you do when you no longer have that pet?

Take a hard look at each item and decide to keep it, toss it, or donate it. Your choice might depend on what kind of pet you have. For example, we have cats and dogs.

For dogs, items to donate might include a leash, harness, bed, toy, or kennel. Even food or treats might be appropriate. When our large outdoor dog Little Bear passed away a few years ago, we gave her food and biscuits to our neighbor, who also had a large dog.


For cats, items to donate might include a litter box, cat litter, scratching post, or cat tower.

Think about how much your local animal rescue or shelter can benefit from you donation. You can make a positive difference!

In (Click on) STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, we talk about donations:

“When donating things in a meaningful way, two people benefit. By helping others with a donation or a gift, you affect someone else’s life. Sometimes the unexpected gift you receive is learning just how much the thing you don’t use any more means to someone else.”

I am not sure if pets are messier than kids. I am sure their gently used items can make a difference to someone else who has a pet.

File Cabinet Drawer Open Avadian

We need to declutter and archive statements more often.

File Cabinet Drawer Open Avadian

The truth is my husband and I archive our records once every three years. Thirty-six months of accumulated paperwork is all our file cabinets can handle.

By this time, our files have grown so full that even the hanging folders lose their grip and collapse from the weight of being overstuffed.

It’s also about this time that my husband and I hate filing papers. It becomes a chore to try to stuff one more balanced credit union statement, one more receipt, one more paid utility bill, one more… In years past, we’d start a pile in front of the file cabinet. But we learned painful lessons over the years when having to file all that accumulated paperwork.

Late last year, my husband, David, removed all the pre-2014 paperwork and stacked all those sheets of paper into a neat pile on a shelf.

Time to Archive

It was exactly three years and one month this past weekend, when we pulled out the banker’s boxes and plastic storage bins in order to archive this paperwork among our older records.

Eeeeewwwwww. There was even a dated note on one of the bins: 12/18/2011 This bin is full.

 We need to let go of our older records.

As a STUFFologist, the thought of buying a new bin did not occur to me. Instead, using Nature’s process as noted in “Input Throughput Output,” Chapter 21 in Part Four of (click on) STUFFology 101, we needed to let go of some stuff.

It took the better part of a quarter hour to decide what we would let go and then the better part of three hours to get the job done.

We keep records of the last seven years. Anything prior to that, we reviewed and reduced to make room for the newer records.

It’s a slow process at best because it’s not simply a matter of tossing records from 2006 and earlier. You may recall I have a need to look through my paperwork one more time before letting go. So, the process will take a bit longer.

For one thing, I purchased a few stocks over a decade ago that I still own. I need to look through my paperwork to see if I still have those records. It would be much harder to get them from the brokerage as I’ve changed brokers over the years, too. I’ll need this information to calculate the long-term capital gain when I’m ready to sell.

This is the process of dealing with (click on) S.T.U.F.F.—we need to Start, Trust the process, Understand that it will take time, and Focus, in order to Finish.

David and I decided that we need to archive and de-clutter statements more often.

In one and a half weeks, we’ve set aside time to return to this process of removing our older records. This time, it should be easier since we’re not waiting three years to review and be reacquainted with our filing system. Over time, I have faith that the process will move faster as we feel strengthened by saving only what we need.

How about you? What area do you define as clutter and how can you get started with decluttering your STUFF?


When Do Lawn Decorations Become Clutter?

I enjoy lawn decorations as part of our Christmas décor. My daughters have helped me with set up and tear down of the various decorations over the years. Traditionally, we start setting them up the day after Thanksgiving. Then we start to remove them the day, or at least the weekend, after New Year’s.

2015 did not follow the traditional program. Family activities kept us from taking the decorations down as usual. I watched with growing anxiety as each neighbor removed their decorations. One by one the front yards on our street returned to normal. I could feel the uncomfortable stares at my front yard as another day passed. The unspoken commentary “Why his decorations still up? Christmas is over, and so is New Year’s. What’s his problem?”

Not being able to take down my decorations was becoming more stressful daily. Finally, the second weekend of January arrived. But my helper was sick; my youngest daughter was unable to help me with the decorations! Her older sisters no longer live at home and my wife does not get involved with the outside décor. Just as I walked outside to begin my task alone, it started to rain. Really?

The weather slowed me down and prevented me from neatly storing each item as it was removed from the yard. Instead I rapidly piled items into the garage every which way.


Who wants to spend all day in the rain? I was sufficiently damp to go inside and warm up once the yard was cleared.

Hours later, my task complete, I was tempted to go around the neighborhood knocking on doors and say, “See that, my Christmas decorations are down! Ha!” But I did not do so and neighborhood peace prevailed.

Satisfied, I relaxed in the house for the evening. My smug satisfaction was shattered when my wife asked, “Why are the Christmas lights on, I thought you took the outside decorations down today?” Clearly the rain disrupted my normally thorough decoration removal process!

Still, I learned a few things about Christmas clutter.

The lawn decorations became clutter for me once the New Year’s weekend passed. Done is better than perfect, I finished removing the lawn decorations and got them put away neatly in the garage. The house lights will come down this weekend when my daughter is healthy again and can hold the ladder for me. Allow for flexibility when you start a project and don’t beat yourself up when it does not go as planned.

Armenian-Rose-Parade-Float-Brenda-Avadian - sm

Photos, PHOTOS Everywhere!

Photos, PHOTOS, when do they become Digital Clutter?

Armenian-Rose-Parade-Float-Brenda-Avadian - sm

Brenda Avadian standing in front of the first-ever Armenian float in the 126th Rose Parade

In STUFFology 101, we write about digital clutter the kind that harmlessly takes up residence on your smartphone, tablet, or hard or external drive. On the cluttergories page, we define digital clutter as anything in virtual form—such as photos stored in our computers, a backlog of emails, or too many social media accounts.

When do digital files turn into clutter?

  • When they’re on your mind in the wee hours of the morning and late at night.
  • When you realize after saving all this STUFF you can’t find what you need when you need it.
  • When you don’t even remember having some of this stuff!
  • When you decide you need to do something about them.
  • When you keep saying, I’ll download this stuff off my smartphone onto my computer so I can finally write about it.

WOW, sounds a lot like mental clutter!

AHA! There’s no better reason right now, to download these digital photos off my smartphone. This article is scheduled to be published the following day and I want to add some of my post-parade float photos. Also, I like to organize my smartphone photos in labeled folders on my computer.

#20150102_Happy-Hippo-Rose-Parade-Float - sm

Happy Hippo Rose Parade Float
Isn’t he cuuute?

Lucky you! You’re in for a treat.

Remember when I wrote the article about the (click on) Rose Parade Float Decorating – No Clutter? Well, the reality is you won’t care about the Rose Parade Floats in July. But you may still want to read about digital clutter and enjoy a few of the post-parade float photos I took. Right?  Please say, YES.

I came upon the following. Although, my initial source at The CHIVE didn’t cite its source of information, this is entirely plausible.

Every two minutes, we take as many photos
as all of humanity took during the 1800s.
In 2014 alone, humanity will take 880 billion photos.
That’s 123 photos for every single human on earth.

#20150102_America-Eagle-Flag-Rose-Parade-Float - sm As with any kind of procrastinating, which also leads to clutter, the actual deed took less time than I thought the task would require. Five minutes was all the time needed to download 38 photos and 3 videos; plus, another five minutes to download a few other photos and file them. I was on a roll.

The next morning, I opened my Rose Parade Floats file and began choosing which ones I wanted to share with you. While working on this, I also labeled the photos while choosing my top picks. #20150102_Flower-Rose-Parade-Float - sm There are too many to share; so, I further limited my initial selection to four, which include the completely decorated flower the float decorators were working on in my earlier post.

The deed is done.

No longer do I concern myself with downloading my float photos. I’ve labeled them so I may use them later as appropriate. And I feel better about eliminating this one cause of mental clutter.

Before I close, I want you to know that next week, the second Monday of the year, is National Clean off your Desk Day. Getting rid of the potential for digital clutter, gives me a head start on my virtual mobile desk. I’ve cleared part of the gallery of photos on my smartphone, filed them in appropriate folders on my computer, and now feel the momentum to keep going… while the clutter waits and WAITS.

How about you? What kinds of clutter are you dealing with? 


How Does Fire Relate to Clutter?

Now that winter is here I like to have a fire going each night in the fireplace of my home. I find that it not only produces warmth, but that it also relaxes me. I like watching how the flames dance in random patterns and the crackle sounds that the fire makes.

How does fire relate to clutter?

Let’s start with a definition of fire from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.[1] Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition.

The flame is the visible portion of the fire. If hot enough, the gases may become ionized to produce plasma.[2] Depending on the substances alight, and any impurities outside, the color of the flame and the fire’s intensity will be different.

Fire in its most common form can result in conflagration, which has the potential to cause physical damage through burning. Fire is an important process that affects ecological systems around the globe. The positive effects of fire include stimulating growth and maintaining various ecological systems. Fire has been used by humans for cooking, generating heat, light, signaling, and propulsion purposes. The negative effects of fire include hazard to life and property, atmospheric pollution, and water contamination.[3] If fire removes protective vegetation, heavy rainfall may lead to an increase in soil erosion by water.[4] Also, when vegetation is burned, the nitrogen it contains is released into the atmosphere, unlike elements such as potassium and phosphorus which remain in the ash and are quickly recycled into the soil. This loss of nitrogen caused by a fire produces a long-term reduction in the fertility of the soil, which only slowly recovers as nitrogen is “fixed” from the atmosphere by lightning and by leguminous plants such as clover.


Fire, like the clutter in our lives, is a process that causes various reactions.

The flame, like physical clutter in the home, is the visible portion of the fire. The intensity of the fire is determined by the substances in it. Likewise, the severity of our clutter is determined by the type and intensity of the cluttergories (physical, mental, digital, temporal, and sensual) in our lives.

Finally, fire can cause physical damage but is also an important part of the ecological systems around the globe; fire stimulates growth and helps maintain those systems. Clutter can also cause damage, especially when it reaches the level of hoarding. Getting rid of the clutter is an important part of stimulating growth in ourselves, as well as giving us a clean environment in which to live.

Now that we see how fire relates to clutter, let’s return to the fireplace in my home.


As I said, the fire helps me relax, which helps me better process the mental clutter in my life. I have also been known to fall asleep on the couch in front of the fire. A nap also helps me process the mental clutter!

How do you process the mental clutter in your life?

Our fireplace is double sided, facing both the family room and my home office. This actually helps me keep the physical clutter at bay in my home. For safety sake we have to keep the area around the fireplace clear of anything flammable. This also acts a trigger for me to keep the family room and home office clear of clutter so that we can better enjoy the fire, a mental trick of sorts.

Do you have any tips or tricks for managing the physical clutter in your life?

Winter is enjoyable for me because it tends to be a slower time of year. It is a time of reflection and goal setting with the new calendar year; a time to examine the cluttergories that might be affecting me. The fire is a cozy way to encourage that process and de-clutter my life.

I invite you to use fire as a tool, as I do, to help you process the clutter in life.