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It’s Our Third Anniversary and We Finally Sign a Post-Nup

For nearly three years, Eric and I had been working together without nuptials on S.T.U.F.F.

“What,” you ask? “You’re not even married.”

Weeeaaaall, in a way we are.

You see when you commit to work with someone, it becomes like a marriage.

Three years ago, we made the commitment to collaborate on writing a book about decluttering. We felt like book spouses, marrying our ideas together during weekends as our vision for the book took shape. And just like the newlywed phase passes, we too had differences. Despite our disagreements, we remained committed to seeing the birth of our baby (book).STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter book  Avadian + Riddle

STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter was conceived early July 2012. She took nearly two years to be born. Like most parents, we felt PROUD and JOY at her birth on April 1, 2014.

Yes, that was April Fool’s Day. We believe it’s best not to take ourselves too seriously. We also felt relief: No more labor pains! Ask Eric about indexing.

We knew she would be a FUN child so we launched her into the world with a FUN party.

She’s 14 months old now and remains a FUN child.

Since then, STUFFology 101  was released as an eBook, and later seeing her influence spread (worldwide English Audio rights sold) and recently Korean Language rights, we’re happy to see her make a path in this big world of ours where many ideas are shared.

Eric Riddle and Brenda Avadian sign their post nup agreementTo ensure we progress according to our initial vision and that should something happen to either or both of us that our “heirs and assigns” will be confident in carrying out our wishes, we retained a Los Angeles-based Intellectual Property attorney to draft our post-nup.

To think, how many partners can agree to a pre-nup much less a post-nup. But this ability to see eye-to-eye is how Eric and I started working together in the first place. We agree on most things–the important ones being integrity and a stable with both-feet-on-the-ground approach to our business and marketing decisions.

We also believe in keeping lines of communication as open as humanly possible. Some days (weeks?) it’s harder than others, but we’ve managed to reach our third anniversary.

When I reflect on it, it’s almost like following our apronym S.T.U.F.F. Instead of letting go, we let in and developed our ideas until we created a book.

We simply got Started.

We Trusted the process.

We Understood how each step builds upon the next.

Sometimes we struggled, but we maintained Focus on each area.

And eventually, we Finished.

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What STUFF means

What does our STUFF mean?

Better yet, what does our STUFF say about us?

Throughout our lives, we accumulate STUFF for diverse reasons.

We aspire to make a statement.

Years ago, while I lived in Wisconsin, an Indiana-based consultant asked me why I don’t wear a Rolex watch. I told him my Seiko works just fine. He advised me that a Rolex would help create an image of success. I reminded him of the irony that he had driven four hours in his Mercedes sporting his Rolex, because he needed my advice.

We acquire a unique item while on travel.

Coke Bottle from Armenia and The Wooden Spoon 5 - webWhile in Armenia, I brought home a bottle of Coke with Armenian lettering.

Take a moment, right now to recall something you acquired within the last week or two.

What was it and why?

I bought a pair of crop pants on sale at Costco. Why? They were a compromise between too-short shorts and pants. I’ll just roll up the legs to just above my knees and they’ll be perfect.

Then we hold onto the STUFF we acquired.

We hold onto a reminder of a loved one.

I still hold onto The Wooden Spoon. If you haven’t yet, read the story in STUFFology 101.

We think we’ll need it, later.

We paid a lot for the item and can’t justify letting go of it.

Yep, these are some of the reasons we accumulate clutter.

Long after the reason for acquiring an item has passed, we’re still holding on.

What’s with that?

Oh, I’m not criticizing. I do it too!

As a STUFFologist, I make it my business to define my own clutter, but it takes time to get rid of STUFF.

Deciding what we hold onto defines who we are. Our STUFF makes statements about how we see ourselves.

WOAH, you say! Not all my stuff!

I agree.

Over time, we try to find containers to store the stuff that we don’t need, right now.

And even though it’s out of sight, we remain tethered to our Stuff.

I still have recordings and videos from over a decade and a half ago when my husband and I taped my father while he lived with dementia. He couldn’t make sense of his image on TV and insisted we call the station manager because there was a guy that looked just like him on TV. I thought about making a video to help people understand what it’s like living with dementia. Enough time has passed. There are far better videos available, today.

I am ready to let go.

Nooo, you say. You can get them converted by a service!

Again, retrieving all the videos and audio recordings and then determining which items to convert, takes time. However, it bears mentioning, we don’t have to reduce ourselves to an all-or-nothing choice. I may choose to preserve at least one of those memories.

Still, I don’t want to live through another Station Fire to be forced into rush decisions about what I keep and what I let go.

An earthquake? A fire? A flood?

I am letting go of things now, so I don’t leave others with the burden of getting rid of my STUFF.

I Start by defining the clutter in an area, Trust in the process, Understand the cyclical nature of clutter, Focus for a time, and Finish getting rid of my S.T.U.F.F. in that area.

These mini successes encourage me to keep going whether it’s getting through emails, a pile of magazines, books, paperwork, and more. I think of Queen’s refrain: I want to break free. It’s not easy, but if we keep at it, we will break free of clutter.

The older I grow, the less STUFF means to me.

STUFF-Zebra

Have Fun With S.T.U.F.F.

Knowing and doing are NOT the same thing. We know we should take time to relax, but often don’t. We know we should spend more time with family and friends, but let work and other obligations get in the way. Clutter is not always black and white.

Step back, take a deep breath, and have fun with S.T.U.F.F.

Our own cluttergories overlap one another, but we can work on more than one at a time. This is where the S.T.U.F.F. acronym comes in handy. START by defining what clutter is for you. For me it has been mental and temporal clutter. Like many of you, I have too much stuff going on! The family and I needed a break, so we went to the California Poppy Festival over the weekend.

I learned some things about clutter at this event, especially in the petting zoo area of the children’s section. The camels reminded me to get over the hump of my mental clutter. I had to TRUST in the process and myself to de-clutter. STUFF-Camel

There was a rainforest animal section too, that contained all kinds of exotic critters. The giant spider made me think about how clutter builds up slowly, just like a web. UNDERSTAND that clutter builds up over time and its removal is a process not an event.

Enjoy the moment and be present. Kids seem to do this naturally. Follow their example and FOCUS on where you are and what you are doing.

And last, but not least, FINISH the area of clutter you are working on. My day of fun with the family reduced the mental and temporal clutter holding me back.

S.T.U.F.F. is a tool you can use to process whatever cluttergories are impacting your life. Try it today!

Decluttering Tax Records Avadian

Using S.T.U.F.F. to DeClutter

While dealing with the STUFF of LIFE, we could use a helping hand with clearing the mental clutter swirling in our minds or the physical stuff that stops us from going after what we really want.

When a helping hand is not an option, an inspirational reminder can lift us over the obstacles created by clutter.

To help you declutter, we use the word STUFF as an apronym.

Huh?

The only difference between an apronym and an acronym is that in the former, each letter actually spells a word. I admit, I recently learned this, myself.

S.T.U.F.F.

When you find STUFF getting in the way, it’s because you haven’t Started yet.

START

Once you decide to START, define an area of clutter, and then do something about it.

Your one action will make it easier to keep going. A little progress is better than no progress and means one less thing you need to add to your growing To Do list for tomorrow.

Decluttering Tax Records AvadianAfter five consecutive Sundays of going through old paperwork for two to three hours each time, my husband and I took a break this past weekend. We’ll  return to reducing the clutter of old tax records, next Sunday.

It’s harder to Start than it is to continue. So get started with even one small step.

TRUST

When you hit that wall of resistance, you’ll need to TRUST the process and yourself.

As you build trust in the process, you’ll gain self-confidence.

I made progress in spurts over the years. The older I get, the more I realize that I need to devote the time and effort to getting this done.

I trust that the process will take time and it’s a bit easier sharing the misery while going through old tax files and statements with my husband. During five consecutive weekends, we reduced our records by eight inches. That’s a lot of shredded paper!

UNDERSTAND

Progress helps give us strength to UNDERSTAND the nature of how STUFF accumulates. This is why it’s important to go through the process of decluttering in order to learn the important lessons, which will help us prevent clutter from accumulating.

For lasting results, we can’t expect to get rid of years of stuff in one weekend.

We understand that the small steps we have taken each weekend means we’ll be finished decluttering our old tax records before the end of this month. YAAAAY. This encourages us to define another area of clutter in order to continue the process.

To avoid a future of toxic clutter, we understand now the importance of scheduling regular intervals to manage our records. Drinking wine helps make the process easier.  🙂

FOCUS

In our information-overload world, it’s hard to keep FOCUS.  Watching television becomes a major obstacle for many of us. When in a decisive moment, my hubby decided he was ready to let it go, I cancelled our service.

I didn’t realize all the mindless thoughts filling my brain until we stopped watching TV.

WOW, is Geraldo’s ego really THAT big? His almost rivals Trump’s on Celebrity Apprentice! How much gold do we really need on Gold Rush? Look at all that pristine Alaskan wilderness being torn up just for gold dust! Is Hillary going to run? What’s the deal with Kim Kardashian’s butt?

In the scheme of life, what substance do any of these thoughts add to the contributions I choose to make in our world?

Nothing. They prevent me from focusing on what matters and that is to get my life in order. FOCUSED effort on decluttering one area at a time will free my mind of distraction so that I may help you from a place of focused strength, rather than scattered weakness.

FINISH

Finally, understand that this is an organic process–things come in, they turn into piles, and then they need to go out in order to keep life from becoming toxic.

If you manage your clutter, your progress—cleared space on your desk, space in your file drawers and storage bins, will bring you a feeling of lightness and freedom from not being tied down by too much stuff.

 

What are you waiting for?

Start decluttering your stuff. Trust in the process. Understand how clutter accumulates. Focus on one area at a time and you will Finish.

For more information, click to read Start (again).

 

While Eric and I are happy to give you a helping hand…

You must first define YOUR clutter.

Old books  Avadian

What you define as clutter, I may enjoy as a walk back into time—such as reading a book or letters from the late 1800s.

While you think I should delete all my older emails, I may value following-up with an old acquaintance not forgotten. 😉

If you haven’t yet, pick up a copy to read STUFFology 101 first and then send us an email for HELP@stuffology101.com. Today, our virtual communications allow us to help you almost anywhere!

 

 

Office-clutter-phsical-02032015

START (again)

Does an area you like to keep clean and tidy suffer from clutter creep?

My home office desk area suffers from clutter creep as it is the repository for all household paperwork, and assorted other items. Even a dedicated STUFFologist has a hard time keeping it free of clutter!
Office-clutter-phsical-02032015
I share this because I like to keep it neat and tidy as much as possible. When it accumulates like this, I define that as physical clutter in my living space. If I let it pile up, it becomes mental clutter weighing me down!

Often we forget to take our own advice when we get busy with life. I am no different. In the book we advise people to START small and ”…define clutter in one area at a time to avoid being overwhelmed.” It is time for me to START in my home office (again).

I also consider clutter removal to be an ongoing process, not an event. Don’t beat yourself up if clutter reappears. Take a deep breath and START again in that area.

Some stuff takes longer to complete than other stuff. Digital clutter is a hit or miss issue for me. The same advice applies to de-clutter what is weighing you down in the digital realm.

For example, we like to share the eBook version of STUFFology 101 on different social media platforms and book websites to help people get their minds out of the clutter. We recently STARTed to use a feature called BookShop from our eBook distributor as part of that sharing process. Once we have it finished, you’ll be able to purchase the eBook from multiple platforms (like iBooks) from one location. We will share that on the blog in News and Views when it is completed.

If clutter creep happens to you, remember to START small and focus on one area to avoid being overwhelmed. Doing so will get your mind out of the clutter.

FINISH-S.T.U.F.F.

FINISH with S.T.U.F.F.

FINISH is the final ‘F‘ in S.T.U.F.F., FINISH what you START.

Just like the Thanksgiving example from START, you wouldn’t leave the dishes everywhere after the meal. You would FINISH putting the food away and do the dishes.

The process of de-cluttering is the same, FINISH the area you started. With successful results, you can define another area of clutter that you will process within a reasonable period of time.

Think about it like Newton’s Second Law of Motion: A body in motion will remain in motion long enough to clear the clutter.

For more information, review the BONUS STUFFologist’s Guide of (click on): STUFFology 101 on Amazon.com.

FOCUS-S.T.U.F.F.

FOCUS on S.T.U.F.F.

FOCUS is the ‘F‘ in S.T.U.F.F., FOCUS on doing ONE area at a time.

Don’t be tempted to work in too large of an area or in too many areas at once.

You want to be successful. If you focus on one area that takes an hour, your achievement will spur you forward to tackle the next area.

Finishing a small area is better than making partial progress on a larger one.

For more information, review the BONUS STUFFologist’s Guide of (click on): STUFFology 101 on Amazon.com.

UNDERSTAND-S.T.U.F.F.

UNDERSTAND your S.T.U.F.F.

UNDERSTAND is the ‘U‘ in S.T.U.F.F., define what clutter is for you.

Understanding why various items are in your home will help you de-clutter. Do you have memories and emotions associated with something? Do you really need that item?

Oftentimes, these memories and emotions produce obstacles to getting one’s mind out of the clutter.

Only you know what is really important to you.  Take a hard look at each item, it may be easier to donate (or toss) that item than you think.

For more information, review the BONUS STUFFologist’s Guide of (click on): STUFFology 101 on Amazon.com.

TRUST

TRUST in S.T.U.F.F.

TRUST is the ‘T‘ in S.T.U.F.F., and is the most important component of the de-cluttering process.

Trust in yourself, things will work out after you have started in just ONE area removing clutter.

Clutter builds up over time; Clutter removal is a process not an event.

For more information, review the BONUS STUFFologist’s Guide of (click on): STUFFology 101 on Amazon.com.

 

START

START with S.T.U.F.F.

START is the ‘S‘ in S.T.U.F.F., an acronym we created to help you get your mind out of the clutter.

What can be the hardest thing to do when we want to de-clutter the house for Thanksgiving? Starting to do it! A sense of overwhelm creeps in, there is so much to do, and nothing gets done.

Take a deep breath, pick ONE area to start in, and do it.

Simple? Maybe so, but starting in just one area will give you momentum to continue.

More details are in the BONUS STUFFologist’s Guide of (click on): STUFFology 101 on Amazon.com.