STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter book by Brenda Avadian MA Eric Riddle

STUFFology 101 Two Year Anniversary Giveaway!

Our baby girl, STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter will be two years old, today!

STUFFology 101 book - Get Your Mind out of the Clutter

Our Special Anniversary Amazon Giveaway promotion begins now and runs through April 12th. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. This STUFFology 101 Two-Year Anniversary Giveaway ends the earlier of 4/12/15 11:59PM, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules. The official rules for Amazon Giveaway can be found at

Help us celebrate and enter for your chance to win a FREE Kindle copy of STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter!

Enter NOW for your chance to win:

Thank you and good luck!

STUFFology 101 copies of Korean edition

WOWEEEE the Korean Edition of STUFFology 101

STUFFology 101 Box of books from Korea I had the pleasure of picking up a gift that arrived from South Korea, yesterday – a box of the Korean edition of STUFFology 101 – Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter.

As an author of nine books, I’ve had the pleasure of having books translated in German, Spanish, Korean, and Slovenian. It’s always a treat to see how publishers of different countries handle the design and translation.

STUFFology 101 copies of Korean editionThis is an exciting time for us. Imagine writing a book that people from around the world express interest in. I feel a little giddy with excitement imagining how my co-author, Eric must feel. This is his first published book, which became a top-selling title and it is now available in the Korean language. WOWEEEE!

What’s next?

There’s no telling what’s around the corner. As we wrote in the Unexpected Gifts chapter of STUFFology 101, if you keep working toward your goal, you never know which unexpected gift will come your way.

That’s what happened with this edition. We exhibited copies of STUFFology 101 at the Frankfurt Book Fair through the Independent Book Publishers Association. Although more publishers and agents expressed interest in this title than my previous books, the world’s economy remains tenuous and no deal was forthcoming. However, unknown to us, Cheombooks, a publisher in South Korea was searching for books on Amazon when they discovered STUFFology 101And here we are!

STUFFology 101 a peek inside the Korean editionAll we can do is focus on helping you and who knows what’s next.

How about a little serendipity? I opened the book and paged through until I found a nice image of the inside pages I could share. What did I choose? Chapter 17 – Focus on Doing One Thing.

In our demanding, multi-tasking, and fragmented world, the best road to success with S.T.U.F.F. is to Start, Trust, Understand, and FOCUS in order to Finish.

Will you JOIN us?

STUFFology 101 Editor's Pick for October at Downpour Audio - web

STUFFology 101 To Be Featured For Train Your Brain Day

STUFFology 101 Featured Title for Train Your Brain DayNext week Tuesday, STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, will be the featured title for Train Your Brain Day.

Starting with the unofficial fall season (Labor Day weekend), STUFFology 101 was the top-ranked title in three categories (including self-help and stress management) for five days and then the top-selling nonfiction audio (sold 7,000 copies in one day).

STUFFology 101 is the Editor’s Pick of October at Downpour Audio (for consumers) as a follow-on to Marie Kondo’s best-selling Tidying Up book. Woweeee!  STUFFology 101 Editor's Pick for October at Downpour Audio

It will be the Editor’s Pick for the Library Market from October 12 – 19th.  Librarians may order direct from Blackstone Library.

Friends of STUFFology 101 (Click for Table of Contents), if you haven’t yet had a chance to pick up a copy, listen to the audio while you clear the clutter in your life or buy a copy as a gift for a friend or family member!

STUFFology 101 was the top-ranked title in three categories (including self-help and stress management) for five days .

STUFFology 101 was the top-selling nonfiction audio selling 7,000 copies in one day.



Which type are YOU when managing emails?

I disagree with Joe Pinsker’s article in the Atlantic that “Those who can comfortably ignore unread notifications, and those who feel the need to take action immediately.”

A Third Type of Person

There’s a third kind of person when it comes to email messages and I find myself among them. We are those who check our email inboxes throughout the day to respond to important, urgent, and sometimes quick emails. We are those who consciously decide what to subscribe to and what to let go. We are those who may have multiple email addresses. We are those who access our emails when we want to and, in some cases, turn off the notification sounds to avoid annoying Pavlovian bells.

Judging from the comments to his article, others agree.

In 1995, I had one email account with AOL. I received about 35 a day and replied within the hour and in some cases, within 24 hours. Even then, colleagues lamented the fact that they couldn’t respond quickly due to a deluge of 35 emails a week!

Ahh, it’s all relative, isn’t it?

Over the years, my email input has grown and leveled off at about 100+ emails daily. I respond within the day or 24 hours—sometimes, just to acknowledge receipt and that I’ll respond by a given date. (This assures senders that their email was received and the ball is now in my court.) I’ll hit “Reply” then add a note in my calendar or in brackets at the start of the subject line of the draft reply email  such as [PROMISED Reply by #/##/####] before saving it to my Drafts folder.

Emails and Volleyball

I view email correspondence like a game of volleyball. When the ball’s in your court, you need to return it.

Sure, there are people who insist on making others play volleyball by themselves. I’ve heard my husband say, “If you really need to reach me and I haven’t replied to your email, call me.” Others place the burden on the sender with an automated reply informing them of the hundreds of emails they receive and if they don’t reply, to resend them the email. Again, this places the burden on the sender to run to the other side of the net and serve, to keep the ball/email in play.

Organize Emails

To organize the emails I receive daily, I use nine email addresses: six for work with two different websites ( and and my publishing company; two personal email addresses; and a Google account I use twice a month.

We have our own methods to organize our emails, just as we organize our sock drawers. However, a little inspiration and new ways of organizing can go a long way. While some use all the bells and whistles (tagging, filtering, flagging, categorizing), I go so far as to create subfolders in Outlook. I find these especially useful when I’m corresponding with a client on a project. Once the assignment is finished, I delete the subfolder.

Lost Subfolders

Brenda Avadian's Outlook folder - Digital declutterEarlier this month, after work-related travel subsided, I directed time and energy to two old subfolders with a combined 200 emails. They included Los Angeles County emails, environmental studies, initiatives, reports, and related correspondence from my work last year as a town council president. I was shocked to discover they were gone. GONE!

I back up every week, but I just noticed this, which means I’ve since backed up Outlook with the lost subfolders. Besides, in one week I can get through 1,000 emails. Restoring last week’s backup would mean redoing a LOT of work. Just a thought for you to consider when relying on backups.

A visit to the online forums indicated that Outlook subfolders do have a tendency to disappear. This is the first time this has happened to me without my being aware of the cause.

At a crossroads and in a quandary

Is this one of those unexpected gifts?

On the one hand, I’ve saved myself a lot of time, because these data-intense emails will no longer take my time.

On the other, what about the lost records?

Those who can DELETE

Some people, you may be one of them, easily delete backlogs of emails when they grow too large. One publisher/broker wrote to tell me his Outlook froze after having tens of thousands of emails. YIKES!

One of our readers wrote that she deleted 4,000 emails since 2010. I’ve learned in most cases, when people tell me this, it’s usually because they haven’t deleted those sales announcements, newsletters, and other non-essential emails that fill their inboxes daily.

What I’m writing about are those emails that require follow-up during the course of business, day to day.

In STUFFology 101, I shared my goal to reduce all top-level emails to less than five carried over to the next day. I’ll achieve this goal this year. It takes disciplined effort during days, evenings (without TV), and even some weekends to dive deep. Not letting the ball drop and surprising people (even after a year) are worth it to me, an old-fashioned person who believes in following up. After losing touch with some, they’ve ended up becoming clients.

Reducing emails brings me clarity of mind, increased focus, and a feeling of lightness that comes with reducing digital clutter in order to have less mental clutter.

STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter book by Brenda Avadian MA Eric Riddle

Review Mirror

Do you have a book inside you? Most people would say yes.

Writing a book has been a great experience for me. Putting yourself out there for everyone to see is a worthwhile endeavor. But receiving feedback from people can be a challenge. Few of us enjoy criticism, even if it for our own good.

During the editing process, feedback can be brutal. But it gives the author time to incorporate the recommendations of the editor. In the end the book is better from this process.
Book reviews are different because the process is over, the book is complete. But the feedback is still important. For me a review is like looking in the rearview mirror when driving a car. It is an opportunity to see where I have been.

We all have our own views and perceptions of clutter and life. Reading what someone has to say about STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter is both exciting and scary. I enjoy learning how people benefited from our work, which is exciting. After all, we wrote the book to help people get their minds out of the clutter! My ego wants people to love the book, but it is impossible to please everyone, which is a little scary for a first time author like me.

Negative feedback is also important because it challenges me to see things through the reader’s eyes. That person’s perception of what we wrote in the book may not be what we intended to say or even actually said. Perception is reality to each of us. That too reminds me of a rearview mirror because it is behind me, I can’t change what the reviewer wrote.

Earlier I asked if you have a book in you. If you do, then write it. It is a great experience.

I have another question for you. Do you have a review in you? Reviews are important to authors, both for the feedback to improve and to help sell books. If you have read STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, then please write a review.

If you haven’t read the book, then please BUY it and write a review. It is available from many retailers.

Here are a few of them:


Barnes & Noble





As you can see, the book is available in multiple formats to suit your preferred reading method.

Do you have a review in you? I hope you say yes. Thank you.

Professor Dumpster - Dr. Jeff Wilson

Letting go and Letting IN the World with Professor Dumpster

Letting go and Letting IN the World–an interview with Professor Dumpster.

Jeff Wilson piqued my interest when I came upon an article in The Atlantic, last year.

Who moves from a 3,000-square foot home to a 500-square foot apartment, and then down to a 36-square foot dumpster?

What’s surprising? He’s an environmental science professor at Huston-Tillotson University (HTU) AND a dean!

I had to meet him when I flew into Austin for a board meeting earlier this month.

What’s his story?

He’s the test variable in his own research, exploring the boundaries of conventional living options.

Can one live in a space of 36-square feet?
The first half of the year, he endured sparse amenities, sponge baths at a sink in one of the university’s bathrooms, and sub-freezing nights. The second half of the year, he added some creature comforts with air conditioning and a futon bed.

As a professor, he inspires by example. His students remain curious about sustainability in their own lives. He welcomes teachers to spend a night through his Dumpster Project “Home” School residency program. (Scroll to “Education Programs” in the PDF that opens.) His even offers educational opportunities for 5th and 7th grade science—helping young people understand sustainability of water, food, and energy.

Professor Dumpster - Dr. Jeff Wilson

What unfolded was quite unexpected.

We met for breakfast on a rainy morning at a small neighborhood restaurant two miles east of the Capitol.

Donning a professorial corduroy sport coat over a plaid shirt with bowtie, and heavy black-framed glasses topped with a Stetson will catch anyone’s attention!  That adventurous mix caught mine.

He is letting go.

He picked up the tab for breakfast. I objected since I had invited him to meet with me. He explained that’s what the money is for—to let it go. Although, he’s not giving away money, he is testing many of the conventions of day-to-day living we often take for granted.

He just sold his car the evening before we met, choosing to get around town on an electric bicycle or on foot.

After breakfast, we walked to the University to see the Dumpster. I looked inside and took a few pictures. (It had just been painted.) We went to his office to continue our discussion.

What is he trying to prove?

He’s asked this question, frequently. Anytime, anyone endeavors to do something that defies convention, amateur psychologists gather to decode the pioneer’s psyche by delving into the past.

Was it something from his childhood?

Professor Dumpster (Jeff Wilson) in thought I was curious about his childhood. He recalls trying to arrange Legos in ways that reflect principles of feng shui. He remembers most horizontal surfaces filled with stuff. In STUFFology 101, there’s a reference to tilting horizontal surfaces to prevent the accumulation of POOP (Piles of Overwhelming Paperwork).

A past relationship?

He was married once, but his ex-wife’s and his relationship went their separate ways, amicably.

Past profession?

After a stint with Ernst & Young, he quit, because in the real world, it seems no matter how stellar one’s results, there’s always a leader wants things done a certain way.

Sometimes, people do things for reasons we’re unable to understand.

He’s not trying to change our behavior.

“I don’t want anyone to do anything.” He doesn’t expect the world’s population to live in dumpsters. Although, a dumpster would be desirable shelter for billions who live in poverty.

He’s not even trying to prove a point.

“I’m just doing my own thing.” He’s stretching the boundaries of how we choose to live while exploring sustainable options. He’s conducting “radical personal experiments that have the potential to make a ripple in society.” He’s “inspired by people who sell their home, buy an RV, and travel. It’s a freeing feeling.”

Why a Dumpster?

“The dumpster is a metaphor for the dichotomy between our sacred space (where we live) and the waste we throw away. The crap we don’t want disappears when we toss it in a dumpster.” Bringing together such disparate elements “serves as a symbol and a surprise.”

What’s next?

His goal is to explore “how to build a beautiful home for the price of a car payment in the middle of a city.”

His research is inspiring. His experiments are lessons in letting go while letting in the world of adventure through sustainable living. He inspires a growing community of us with greater awareness of the cumulative global impact of our feature-rich lifestyles.

Professor Dumpster w STUFFology 101By letting go of things we often think are necessary, he has created a life of freedom, flexibility, and fun. For example, he and his girlfriend/writer, Clara Bensen, completed several trips to different countries around the world without any baggage. Read more on his Wikipedia page.

I hope he doesn’t let go of the gift of STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind out of the Clutter, I was happy to sign for him.

For an overview of Professor Dumpster’s work, click to view this six-minute video.


Happy Birthday STUFFology 101!

Our book baby turns one year old today, and that’s no April fool’s joke. STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter was born on April 1st, 2014 to proud parents Brenda Avadian and Eric Riddle.  STUFFology-101-stroller-launch

Amazingly, she knew how to read as a print book when she was born. It seems like only yesterday that we were sharing the news with friends and family (see “It’s a Girl!”). They grow up so fast!

She has learned so much through the year. My book spouse and I were so proud when she learned how to use the computer in September as an eBook.

She even started talking in December as an audio book. As parents, we want her to continue to grow and mature. We are hoping she learns a foreign language soon.

Our book baby wants to share her fun and flexible approaches to declutter. Click on the links for each format above to see how she can help you get your mind out of the clutter!

Publishers Weekly Review of STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter

WOWEEEE a REVIEW by Publishers Weekly!

For all in the book biz, Publisher’s Weekly (PW) is a BIG DEAL!

Getting a REVIEW by PW is an even BIGGER DEAL.

So, even though we’ve shared our excitement about this via social media, we just had to go on record with this.

… ‘stuffologists’ Avadian and Riddle have spent a lifetime dealing with hoarding’s little sister, ‘STUFFitis,’ the plague of accumulated clutter ‘diverting us from our life’s purpose and what we deserve.’ Using their combined knowledge, they provide tips on de-cluttering your physical space, hard drive, and even your frenzied mind… Avadian and Riddle prove sympathetic guides, revealing personal stories…
 Publishers Weekly Review

Thanks to Eric’s initiative in sending review copies and persistence in following up, STUFFology 101 was reviewed by Publishers Weekly.

YAAAAY! Please help us celebrate this achievement by sharing this post via your social media channels… again.

Publishers Weekly Review of STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter

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.