Tug of war with Magic Question 1

“I’m cheap,” said my friend as she pulled the empty bottle of shampoo out of the trash. “I can get another two shampoos out of this.”

“No you’re not,” I replied. “You’re ecologically minded. You’re green!” I added.

She smiled, unbelievingly.

Raised by Depression-era parents, she also saved everything. You never know when you’ll need it.

From time to time, I also have a tug-of-war when letting go.

Do I save something to use in another way or do I let it go to keep clutter at bay?

For years, I’ve saved a little jar of night cream. I let go of a smaller travel-sized version with no regrets, but I’ve held onto this larger-sized one. What if I might like to use it for something else? Unlike my friend, I do try to be ecologically minded.

The tug-of-war begins when I consider The Station Fire of 2009.

Would this be one of the items I’d take with me when we evacuate?


In a similar vein, Magic Question 1 is: Will I take time to acquire this item again if I lost it in a disaster?


As I write this, I’m struggling to reach the rest of the lotion from the bottom of a large-sized pump bottle. I could let the remaining lotion pour into this little jar! Oh, but I need to clean it, first.

This begs the question: When is enough ENOUGH?

Do the resources spent—water, soap, and my time—outweigh any benefit to saving it?


My friend gave me an idea, which I shared with my husband. Today, we add we add a little water to a near-empty bottle of shampoo and manage a few extra uses. That’s not being cheap, that’s being GREEN!

Little jar of cream tossed in trashI tossed the jar of night cream.

Instead, I’ll simply tilt the bottle with a piece of foil covering the top until I use the last of the lotion.

It may seem incidental to focus on one little jar of cream, but as you know if you finished reading STUFFology 101, mass attracts mass. Even one sheet of paper can soon grow into an overwhelming pile.

So, I ask you: What’s the “little jar” you need to let go in your life?

Leave a reply below or click on any of these social media buttons and share your answer.


Brownies for breakfast?

If you are trying to eat healthier, it is a good idea to remove junk food from your living space. Likewise if you are trying to live clutter free, you remove items from areas in the home that tend to be a dumping ground for your stuff (your clutter zones).

Still, clutter tends to accumulate if we are not focused on keeping it under control. If this happens to you, take a hard look at your stuff and ask yourself the Two Magic Questions.


MAGIC QUESTION #1: If I lost this item in a disaster, would I take the time to replace it?

MAGIC QUESTION #2: What would the area you’re focusing on look, feel, smell, or sound like if you cleared out the clutter?


Your answers should help you get rid of some of that stuff. Remember that only you can define your own clutter.

It (clutter/stuff) can be insidious, not unlike that junk food around the house when we try to eat healthier. When on a diet you would not eat brownies for breakfast.

Continuing the diet analogy, too much stuff can feel like excessive weight on our bodies and minds (physical and mental clutter). Since I tend to be a packrat, clutter removal is an ongoing process for me. The Two Magic Questions are a handy tool to keep my clutter under control.

If you are feeling the weight of too much clutter, ask yourself the Two Magic Questions today.

Grand Piano_Avadian

To Master the Art of Decluttering, Ask Magic Question 2

The art of de-cluttering is similar to any other skill or talent worth developing. If you want to play better piano, you need to practice, Practice, PRACTICE. If you want to be a better basketball player, you need to shoot hoops and practice moves on the court.

Whatever talent you wish to master, you need to respond vividly to the second of two magic questions.

The great masters, whether in music, sport, or any other talent, practice and use visualization to mentally finger the keys or take hoop shots.

Grand Piano_Avadian

We take it a step further.

Visualization is not enough when we have access to five senses.

Master the art of decluttering so that you may join us as STUFFologists.

In over 45 years of clearing the clutter throughout my life, I have found when I clear a physical space; it has a profound effect on how I think. For example, clearing a square foot area of clutter clears my mind and opens me up to unexpected possibilities. It goes deeper than this but I’m limited by two-dimensional expression.

Imagine what we can accomplish room by room in an entire home or office!

Clutter will never totally disappear. It’s part of our natural cycle of life. Just as you eat to digest the nutrients in your food, and then eliminate, there will always be a cycle of clutter in our lives. We accept this as the natural course of life; especially, while we’re focused on other tasks leaving clutter to accumulate.

We can control our clutter by answering the two Magic Questions.    

In Chapter 22 of STUFFology 101, we address the Two Magic Questions.

Eric Riddle wrote about the first Magic Question in Why do I have this?

This article invites you to step up the challenge of answering Magic Question 2: What would the area I am focusing on look, feel, smell, or sound like if I cleared the clutter? 

Your ability to feel the answer deeply will yield lasting success. In other words, visualize the area but go beyond to imagine using your other senses.

  • Do you notice how clean an area smells after you’re finished dusting?
  • Do you remember feeling a more open mind after clearing an area of a stack of papers?
  • Have you noticed after emptying a room of stacks of boxes, that you are able to hear sound more clearly?

Where do you begin?

Click to Start with S.T.U.F.F. Define an area you want to clear of clutter and get started. Focus on how you feel, what you smell, hear, touch, or see.

The more senses you involve, the greater your success.

Over time, like a virtuoso pianist or a star basketball player, you will master the art of decluttering.

And who knows?

In the physical, mental, digital, temporal, and even sensual space created, you may find an unexpected gift. There is no telling what it will be. That’s what makes it unexpected. I have found if I observe closely and keep an open mind, I usually find the answer to a question I’ve been mulling around awhile or a find a solution to a challenge I’ve encountered.


Why Do I Have This?

Have you ever looked at an item in your living space and have no idea why it is there? The reason you have it long forgotten.

In Part IV of STUFFology 101: Get You Mind Out of the Clutter we discuss fun and flexible approaches to eliminate the clutter in your life. One approach is using the Two Magic Questions (Chapter 22).

The first magic question will help you decide what to do with items you own and don’t remember why.


MAGIC QUESTION #1: If I lost this item in a disaster, would I take the time to replace it?

If the suit I haven’t worn for thirty years was destroyed in a flood, would I go out and replace it?

If my Lionel train collection was destroyed in a fire, would I replace it?

What if everything you treasured was driven out to sea during a tsunami or turned into ash during a fire? Which items would you try to replace?

Oftentimes there are things occupying space in our homes that we don’t even remember owning.

Try out MAGIC QUESTION #1 on that mystery item today!