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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?


Most THINGS don’t Matter Unexpected Gifts Do

Life Lesson: Most THINGS don’t Matter Unexpected Gifts Do

Oftentimes, we are caught up with THINGS.

We collect things. We clean, organize, and display them. We feel a loss when things go missing.

Yet, if we let go of some of these things or even better, don’t bring them into our homes, we’ll receive unexpected gifts that may surprise us.

Brenda Avadian in Mexico Drinking la Leche fresca de CocoWhile on a trip to Mexico, my husband and I lived high on the hog, we also lived along the middle of the hog, and under the hog. Okay, I’m stretching the cliché a little.

We returned home appreciating that we had a shelter even though it was a fixer-upper. We questioned if we should proceed with remodeling.

Even now, in our information-rich world, the more things we acquire, we run the risk of creating physical clutter, which soon grows into toxic mental clutter that takes time away from what matters in our lives.

Ever ask a person a question and not get a straight answer?

C’mon, what is it? Yes or No?

It’s hard to decide with a clutter-filled mind.

Instead, when we declutter the various cluttergories in our lives, we feel lighter, more focused, and are more decisive.

At around 7 minutes in the video, you’re invited to do an exercise. Click on link for an overview of the STUFFology 101 Cluttergories. Print a copy and then write your notes (from the video) on the reverse.

And the hog?

We finally ate the hog, but carnitas are not part of this story except for an unexpected gift.

I crossed one item off my Bucket List—a goal I’d had since I read stories in the 5th or 6th grade recounting family gatherings in Mexico.

What was it?

Watch the end of the video for my unexpected gift.

Yours will be different, and that’s what makes these gifts unexpected.


If the embedded video does not display below, click on



Who has time to read?

Who has time to read? You do, despite the temporal clutter in your life. I like to read for pleasure, for personal development, and so forth. With all the demands on our time, it is a good idea to have a plan for your reading.

When preparing STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, I read and subscribed to many newsletters and articles about clutter, some of which we reference in the Additional Resources section of the book. I continue to read and watch videos from other experts; you never know what will trigger a fresh idea.

One such expert is Maria Gracia from Get Organized Now! She has wonderful stuff on her website to help you control your clutter. In one of the videos on her YouTube channel she explains how to organize your reading. As someone who loves to read and is still building my personal library, I really appreciated her perspective.

Remember too that you can always read from your smartphone or tablet through one of the popular reading apps like Kindle or Nook.

You do have time to read when you follow Maria’s advice.

Pick up that book or magazine and enjoy a good read today!

Clutter free Kitchen table - Avadian - Web

Nature abhors a vacuum and other clutter postulates

About a decade ago, I came upon “Nature abhors a vacuum” in a book on feng shui. It left a lasting impression upon me. If we resist this force of nature, we may gain control over the cycle of clutter in order to enjoy the unexpected gifts in life.

At this time, I needed to get rid of a number of classic-tailored suits. I no longer wore them because after years of living in a dry climate — the High Desert of Southern California — the finely woven wool fibers had shrunk significantly; yet, I couldn’t let them go.

Isn’t it funny how when we don’t even need something, we insist on holding on?

That changed when a fellow caregiver and friend needed donations for the Children’s Hospital fundraiser. Knowing these clothes were to be purchased by women who would recognize the finer quality details, I donated a half-dozen suits and other clothes.

The void in my closet provided relief. I no longer had the toxic reminders of what was not in my future — a body to fit in those clothes.

And while the force of nature pressured me to fill that void, I resisted. I bought two new outfits. I needed something to wear at speaking engagements!

Today, I consciously resist the urge to replace something I give away or discard. I try to live without it a while to see if I really need to replace it.

This past weekend, one of our living room tabletop lamps stopped working. My husband took it apart to try to fix it. We agreed it wasn’t worth his time and tossed it. We considered buying a new one. Then, to fill the void with light, we experimented by moving two floor lamps. Amazingly, the new arrangement resulted in a much better effect with one less lamp!

What is it that compels us to give into nature’s force and fill a newly created void? And why?

It turns out that Aristotle made this statement. Ahh, now that explains why we accumulate clutter! It’s a physics postulate! And who can resist nature’s law?

We can, if we try hard enough.

After all, with enough power, we defy the laws of gravity and enjoy air travel around the world.

We CAN defy the laws of physics.

When we resist the urge to fill a void whether it’s physical, mental, or even temporal, we free ourselves to receive the unexpected gifts in life.

Unexpected gifts

Clutter free Kitchen table - AvadianYou may recall reading the part in STUFFology 101 about my husband’s and my commitment to keep our kitchen table clear after we grew tired of having to clear a space to eat. Instead, we put our food on trays and ate while watching TV.

This is a photo taken on May 4, 2015 of our clutter-free table. And we took advantage of two unexpected gifts. First, we focus on what we’re eating, which means we eat less. Instead of permitting TV to be a distraction, we take our time to enjoy meals we prepare together from scratch. Second, we’re talking more, just as we did when we became a couple almost 38 years ago.

You may also recall the article that we cancelled our television subscription earlier this year, in order to have more time.

This means less temporal clutter. We have more time to catch up with the things that piled up while our attention was diverted to the TV. And there’s no more mindless blur of daily entertainment that overloaded us with mental clutter.

As we consciously strive to defy Aristotle’s (clutter) postulate, we’ll have more time and energy to enjoy life’s unexpected gifts. One such gift presented itself a couple months ago after I took steps to reduce the hours and days I worked each week.U.S. News & World Report - Brenda Avadian

For almost twenty years, I worked 14-16 hours a day for 6-7 days a week. Last year, I began to take stock of my time and energy and reduced my schedule to 12-14-hour days. After facing some difficult decisions, I let go of several volunteer activities and reduced my work schedule even more.

This year, I’m working 10-12 hour days 6 days a week. This reduction left me with enough time and energy to accept an unexpected gift–an invitation to write for U.S. News & World Report.

This opportunity helps me to reach a wider audience with my message for caregivers. I would not have been able to accept this gift had I not cleared the temporal clutter in my life. Plus, I’m getting out more often to hike in nature.

What unexpected gifts will you invite into your life after resisting the urge to fill a void with stuff?