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!

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How to be clutter free

The dog days of summer are nearly upon us; Graduations, Father’s Day, vacations, and maybe a project or two. What is on your to do list? May I suggest picking a spot to de-clutter?

In STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter we said, “The stuff we think we’ll need some day often gets in the way – and this is what we call clutter.” It is the physical clutter that I want you to think about for your de-cluttering project.

Since you define your own clutter, pick an area that would make you feel better if it was clutter free. Many items are available to you to clean and organize that area in a method that suits you personally. A quick trip to Home Depot illustrates the many options to choose from. How-to-be-clutter-free_De-Clutter_bins_2015 - R

I favor plastic storage bins because they resist water and critters better than cardboard, and come in many shapes and sizes. They can also be stacked neatly in a closet or used in conjunction with utility shelving in the garage.

Decide which will work best for your situation before purchasing something just because it is on sale or looks good at the store. Once you have what you need for your project, put some serious thought in what you want to keep, toss, or donate. Putting everything in bins on shelving in the garage is not necessarily de-cluttering your living space.

Out of sight and out of mind in the house is just moving clutter to the garage in plastic bins. Do not do this! Rather, keep what is important to you in the bins, and donate what is not. Be as ruthless as you can be with yourself. You may be surprised at how easy it is once you get started.

How-to-be-clutter-free_De-Clutter_shelves_2015 - RFinish a specific area of clutter before moving on to the next. This process should make you feel lighter as you complete each, momentum is a good thing. A quick review of S.T.U.F.F. may help.

I suggest working in 30-90 minute increments so you can complete a given area versus trying to do the whole house in one day. De-cluttering is a process, not an event. If you don’t feel like you are making meaningful progress it will not get done. Who wants that kind of frustration?

Take before and after photos to record your success; maybe even send us a note and picture to to share with others. Sometimes seeing how other folks do things can inspire us to take action with our own clutter.

Summertime presents us with the opportunity to consider the physical clutter in our living space. Use the storage solutions available at your local retailer to de-clutter just one area TODAY.


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!


Unload That Trailer

I would rather have and not need it than need it and not have it. My philosophy for garage items was not serving me well when it came to my utility trailer. As discussed in STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter , I rarely used it. Worse than not using it was the fact it had turned into a not so mobile storage area for stuff!

On the rare occasion I needed to use the trailer, I first had to follow a multiple step process to get it out of the garage. This entailed moving the items in and around the trailer out onto the driveway so I could maneuver the trailer out of the garage. Then all that stuff in the driveway went back into the garage temporarily while I used the trailer. Finally, I reversed the process to park the trailer in the garage again. Not a very efficient use of time or space. Talk about temporal and physical clutter!

A solution to my clutter conundrum eventually appeared in the form of my nephew, who asked if I’d be interested in selling the trailer. Ultimately I said YES, but not before agonizing over the answer for at least 30 seconds. I was not home when he came to pick up the trailer, so he and my daughter followed my multiple step process to get the trailer out of the garage.2015_Trailer-1

While it was nice not having to do that work, I also received some unexpected gifts. Letting go of the trailer inspired the family to finally sort through the many trailer items to keep, toss, or donate. Clearing out the garage clutter enabled us to find a few family treasures to display in the house. Those items we chose to donate were put to much better use by our favorite charity. What a wonderful feeling!

In addition, my nephew did not need the panels I had made for the trailer, so I turned that material into storage shelving for my garage. Much of my jumbled Christmas decorations now had an easily accessible home. Aaahhh, relief from Christmas clutter constipation.

Unloading the trailer provided me with another unexpected gift, family time. My nephew stayed for dinner the day he picked up the trailer and we had a nice visit. Sorting through the garage items from the trailer as a family provided a nice block of time to catch up with one another on a variety of things that might otherwise have been missed.

Clear the clutter from an area in your life and discover what unexpected gifts are waiting for you.


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!


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?


Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from all of us at STUFFology 101.

Whatever holiday you celebrate–the end of Hanukkah, Christmas, post-winter solstice, Kwanzaa, or even Orthodox Christmas, we have the next couple of days to reflect on all the good stuff we have in our lives.

May your Holiday be filled with good friends, good food, and family.

Next month you can tackle any Christmas clutter that remains. Until then, sit back and enjoy a Christmas song that never fails to put a smile on my face, Dominick the Donkey by Lou Monte

What is your favorite Christmas song?

Please spread the joy by sharing your answer in the comments section below.

Eric Riddle Letting Go speech

Letting Go is Hard to Do

Stuffologist Eric Riddle Letting Go speech“Letting GO is hard to do,” says STUFFologist, Eric Riddle as he relates three distinctly different experiences he’s had with each of his three daughters.

View Daddy’s tug-of-war of emotions as he learns to let go. Video taken at Toastmasters Division Contest April 2014.

“What does that mean, at the end of the day, is it harder to let go of things or … people?”

Watch Eric Riddle’s presentation about Letting Go, by either clicking in box below or clicking on the text link at the end of this post.

Eric Riddle on Letting Go – STUFFology 101 Video