Clock face

What HAPPENED? Too much Time STUFF!

Clock facePHEW! What happened to 2016?

We’re 11/12 of the way through the year and if you’re saying this, it could be due to too much temporal clutter!

Even I, a STUFFologist – an expert in decluttering the cluttergories of our lives – have lots going on and feel involved in too many things!

Sometimes, we go through periods like these and all we can do is keep up… barely! A family emergency?  We have to fit it in as we set aside other important tasks. Fortunately, there are only 24-hours in a day! Otherwise, we’d be busy, Busy, BUSY for Many MORE hours!

You may recall one of the cluttergories defined along the left side of the page is:

Temporal CluttergoriesTemporal clutter is when we fill our days with so many activities we can’t focus on any one. People who say they’re too busy are often suffering from temporal clutter.

We fill the open slots in our days with seemingly interesting diversions.

I’ve been reviewing author Dorothea Brande’s two-million copy selling 1936 book entitled, Wake Up and Live where she writes about successful people heading toward goals while those who fail head away from goals. In other words, failures engage in self-sabotage. Brande employs an elegant example in the first chapter. (Bracketed “you” replaces use of male gender.)

Suppose [you] had an appointment a hundred miles north of [your] home, and that if [you] kept it [you] would be sure of having health, much happiness, fair prosperity, for the rest of [your] life. [You have] just time enough to get there, just enough gas in [your] car. [You] drive out, but decide that it would be more fun to go twenty-five miles south before starting out in earnest.

Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Yet, how many of us take a break or worse, explore a diversionary route when faced with eventual success? If toward the end of this year, you’re finding achievement of your goals elusive, take an honest look at how you’re spending your time. Brande expands on how we justify our decision to fail.

When failure comes about through devoting precious hours to time-killing pursuits, we can all see … by looking more closely, by discovering that this work gets us nowhere, that it both tires us and leaves us unsatisfied, that we see here again energy is being devoted to the pursuit of failure.

This year, I took steps to focus more on the things that will help me to reach my goals.

Fewer and Better Quality Speaking Engagements
I’m surprised to find fewer potential clients who are prepared to partner in co-creating a stellar program. When I find that rare person who is willing to work to produce an optimal program, I accept the invitation and together we create a memorable and rewarding program.

Reduced board service
For those who know me, I bring everything to the table and more. Surprisingly, there are too many board members (unfortunately) who want/need the prestige but are not prepared to fulfill their fiduciary duties. An example is corporate board membership where board members serve in 9 or more other boards receiving fees of $245,000 or more for each board. Seriously? If your board meets quarterly and you’re a member of 10 boards, you’re needing to prepare for 40 – 80 days of meetings in a year let alone trying to fulfill your primary job as a CEO. Not gonna happen… effectively.

Let go of the temporal clutter in your life. 

Take these final weeks of the year to focus your efforts toward your goal(s).

So often we justify interim failure by saying we’ll start anew in the New Year. Why program yourself toward failure? Work toward success! Dorothea Brande believes success takes just as much energy as failing. I’ve found I feel much better when I test out strategies as the year comes to a close. By the time the New Year arrives, I’m on a roll having already taken steps toward success. I feel much more confident about tweaking my approach as I go along. Try it. NOW! Don’t you deserve to feel better than you do, right now?

Harald Krueger Parody of STUFFology 101 Cluttergories

Throw it Out or Keep it All?

Harald Krueger Parody of STUFFology 101 CluttergoriesRetired psychiatrist and fellow Toastmaster, Harald Krueger leaves us on tenterhooks with his parody of STUFFology 101.

He says, “Throw it out. Throw it all out!”

But does he really mean it?

See for yourself as he rips through each of the cluttergories – physical, mental, digital, temporal, and sensual.

It’s just too funny to resist. He even breaks into song!

This video of Harald’s presentation was taken with a smartphone during a Thursday evening High Desert Toastmasters club meeting at Robertson’s Honda in Palmdale.

I hope he feels better now that he got this off his chest.

I think he wants to keep it all!

We’ll definitely find out when we invite him to speak at our next community event.

Thank YOU, Harald!

If the video does not play below, click on this link:

Alice in Wonderland Small door

Down the Alice-in-Wonderland Rabbit Hole of Cluttergories

When one part of our lives grows cluttered, so do other parts of our lives. Hence, the term we’ve coined to describe various areas of clutter – cluttergories.

When we think of clutter, it often deals with physical clutter—the stuff that makes us fear judgment by others.

What kind of person do we become when we hold onto these feelings?

Do our fears affect our relationships with others?

Beyond the obvious—don’t invite anybody over to see our clutter—what signals are we sending by our behavior?

Are we at risk of falling down the Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole of cluttergories?

Alice in Wonderland Rabbit

Let’s turn the tables for a moment.

We’ve all experienced relationships when we get to know someone initially and feel comfortable. Somewhere along the line, we start feeling the person is holding back. It’s not the shy or introverted behavior; rather, the kind of withholding that creates an inexplicable void in a relationship.

Some people tend to dismiss such observations as thinking too much. The reality is, we humans are far more observant and can sense anomalies in our relationships—things that don’t add up—well before we learn the truth.

Now, let’s look at ourselves.

I don’t intend to address the psychology of human behavior. Instead, I’m trying to raise awareness that such voids in our relationships may serve as clues to the struggles we have with the different cluttergories in our lives.

Whether it starts with physical clutter—what we observe easily—and then radiates outward to the burden of mental clutter. Or it starts in our mind with secrets we hold onto so tightly, we spiral into a life filled with sensual clutter; such as, too much entertainment, alcohol, or food.

Cluttergories play a greater role in our lives than many of us are willing to admit. Unless we do something about them, we’ll continue bearing the burden for a lifetime.

Isn’t it time, we crawl out of the rabbit hole and let the light create awareness?


What’s on Your Mind?

What’s on your mind?

Have you ever been asked this question and wondered, “Where do I start?”

We lead busy lives with endless items added daily at the workplace, at home, and elsewhere. So much input leads to mental clutter. Mental clutter includes thoughts, worries, emotions, and regrets that distract and drain us.

I view my own mental clutter as a weed filled garden. Just like weeds choke out healthy plants in the garden, so too does mental clutter choke out healthy thoughts in the mind. Weeds-of-mental-clutter-2

That feeling of fatigue, even when you get enough sleep, may well be mental clutter, weeds that must be pulled from your mental garden.

What do you do to clear the mental clutter?

A few suggestions to consider:

  • Take a walk outdoors
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in awhile
  • Read a book (preferably a novel or something light)
  • Watch a comedy movie
  • Listen to classical music

Just as what you define as clutter is unique to you, so too is your response to the mental clutter in your life. Please share something that helps you clear the mental clutter in the comments section below.

Weeds often reappear in the garden despite our best efforts at keeping them away. Mental clutter does the same thing. Keep pulling the weeds.

Processing POOP - our Tax Papers - Avadian

Getting rid of POOP flows through other Cluttergories

Processing POOP - our Tax Papers - AvadianIt’s amazing what happens when we take steps to de-clutter.

With tax season coming, we’ve run out of space to file our paperwork.

My husband had removed older records from the filing cabinet, which made it so much easier to file current paperwork.

Now, the IRS requires us to save the last seven years of records. For some of us entrepreneurs, who file Schedule C’s, that means lots of documentation.

What to do?

Store the papers in plastic containers or bankers boxes.

But there’s no more room!

Okay, just buy another container.

Wait, that means MORE STUFF!

The time has come for us to do something about all this POOP—Piles of Overwhelming Paperwork.

Our once-every-three-year approach has resulted in a backlog of POOP.

Surprisingly, hubby agreed to sit down with me for two hours every Sunday, until we clear up more space. Hubby usually doesn’t agree to such things; especially, when I want to take the time to reflect on our past, together. You may remember from the book, he’s a “toss-it-all” kinda guy!

Yet, it’s amazing what two people can accomplish by setting aside a little time each weekend, until we get the job done. The photo at the top of this article is one-week’s carefully digested POOP that’s now ready for the shredder. Imagine how much space we’re creating in our storage container after several weeks of this!

What has happened so far has been unexpected.

I feel the relief in other areas of my life—in those other cluttergories that encroach on our daily functioning, without our knowing (or admitting) it.

I feel lighter.  I’m losing a few winter pounds, too. More importantly, I feel lighter, mentally (mental clutter).

Maybe that lightheadedness is a warning of something else!

Seriously, I feel less burdened by those nagging thoughts, like: When will I have time and the energy to get to it?

We’re gettin’ it done!

And I have the energy to move on.Walk in the Angeles National Forest -Brenda Avadian

I’ve made the time to take more walks in nature.

Next, is the bankers box full of stock and options trades from years past. I actually, look forward to revisiting these records. Although, trading in today’s market is vastly different (more speculative); I expect a goldmine of hindsight within those records—learnings that I may apply, today.

Maybe an article or two… or even a book! 😉

Tax season is here. What will you do differently?

To help you without adding to your paperwork, LISTEN to an audio edition of STUFFology 101.  🙂

For a related article click on: We need to declutter and archive statements more often.



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.


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.

04062014_Play Pool 1

I can play pool, now

04062014_Play Pool 1I can play pool now that we moved that stuff,
Into Beth’s room temporarily, looking pretty rough.
Not actually a solution, but it works for now,
Need to figure out a better way somehow.

But now that room is a mess,
Causing me grief, I must confess.
Procrastination only increases the clutter everywhere.
I prefer a clean house, I really do care.

Sort it I must, that clutter must go,
How long will it take? There is no way to know.
Until we start going through each box with care,
It will sit unused in her room, so unfair.

There is stuff I don’t need that others can use,
Just like that new pair of baby shoes.
Donate with purpose, and do so with haste,
These things should not be sitting here going to waste.

Slowly but surely the bedroom is cleared,
Sorting through stuff is easier than I feared.
We can use this room for guests, and play pool too,
I would have de-cluttered sooner if I only knew.

Finish what you start to keep clutter at bay,
Just do a little bit when you can every day.
You’ll be glad you did, feeling light and free,
Staying clutter free is the way to be.

To see the pool table before it was cleaned click on: Why can’t I play pool?

Why can’t I play pool

Why can’t I play pool?

By Eric Riddle

Why can’t I play pool I always wanted a pool table, probably because I had one growing up. Nothing fancy, just the cool factor.

Thirty years later, my family has a game room with a dartboard, air hockey table, ski ball, pinball machine (now broken), and a pool table. We even have the same lamp that hung over my parents’ pool table. Truth be told, I never wanted that lamp. I wanted a Budweiser lamp!

I have it all. Right? Not quite …

The pool table provides a large flat surface I can use to sort things—mostly paperwork. For months, I’ve stored years of Toastmasters material on it. Until I decide what to keep, I will not be able to play pool on the pool table I wanted so badly.

Not fun.

Recently, my wife, Susi, needed to practice for a pool tournament—a fundraiser for her Relay for Life cancer walk team. She and our daughter Maggie offered to help clear the pool table.

 Always accept help when it’s offered,
especially for something you don’t feel like doing!

Unfortunately, they don’t know what to keep or toss. And I do not agree with ‘when in doubt, throw it out,’ because I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. So, Susi and I removed the material off the pool table, carried it into our daughter Beth’s room, and neatly stacked it in piles on the bed, on the floor, and on any other flat surface we could find.


Problem solved! Sort of. Now, what about the rest of the house?