organization

Stuff & Clutter: Week 6 Recap

So far most of the 2014-2015 winter has been pretty forgiving. Reasonable temperatures, a fair amount of snow without a ton of ice, and some good sunshine. This week, however, was cold, snowy*, and cloud-covered. You’d think that this would mean a chance to really focus in and get rid of some stuff. Instead the week disappeared and by the weekend I thought the week’s goal was out of reach. Fortunately, Jess came through big time this week with the majority of the stuff that is now destined for Goodwill.

A couple of notable big ticket items went out the door this week: my 5-string bass and my “big” bass amp and cabinet. These are now at a local music shop where they’re being sold on consignment. I’m absolutely keeping my 4-string bass and gigging amp setup so nobody start worrying about that. Find our upcoming shows at bourbonrenewalband.com.

stingray5I picked up the 5-string about three years ago when I was in a country rock cover band that played several songs in dropped D and even a couple that needed a low-C. It was a great instrument for me but I’ve probably only picked it up 3-4 times in the last year (compared to my 4-string that I play weekly). The amp and cabinet are “extras” that would come in really handy in case I play an outdoor festival that doesn’t have a PA…which is not coming up any time in the near future.

Grade This Week: A

Right on target for net goal.

Overall Grade: A

We’re still well ahead of pace.

Looking Forward

It’s taking more focus to find stuff to get rid of. In only a few more weeks here we’ll likely need to lower our target. The plan this upcoming week is to head to the basement and go things like the box of miscellaneous cables and box of mish-mash. Who knows what I might find!

*Note that the “snowy” weather this week was really only meagerly snowy for MN at this time of year.

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Stuff & Clutter: Week 5 Recap

I spent most of the week in Seattle this week where all of the locals were feeling down about the Seahawks loss to the Patriots over the weekend in the Super Bowl 49. From a project standpoint this meant a lot less time to make progress…yet once again we surpassed our goal!

I focused some time going through my office while I was on calls at the end of the week. I found books, extra office supplies, and knickknacks.

Grade This Week: A

The bar was raised once again this last week and we exceeded the weekly goal.

Overall Grade: A

We’re well ahead of pace.

Looking Forward

Because of the over-achievement in shed so far we’re going to keep pushing up each week until we don’t hit the shed target. At that point we’ll scale back.

Gross Shed Net Shed
Week 5 Target 28 25
Week 5 Actual 41 39
Week 6 Target 33 30

Stuff & Clutter: Week 4 Recap

This last week was spent in town–with nice weather to boot. Mid to high 30’s makes for an amazing late-January temperature here in Minny.

Our new entertainment center arrived at Schneiderman’s Furniture, so we were able to pick it up Friday and got it all set up before friends came over Saturday. We used the opportunity to shed some stuff that was in the old one that didn’t make sense to hang on to.

We also went through the kitchen cupboard to thin out the supply of extra mugs and glasses. While we’re still probably hanging on to too many, we found a good dozen we were willing to part with.

Grade This Week: A

The bar was raised this last week and we continue to exceed the weekly goal.

Overall Grade: A

We’re still ahead of pace.

Thoughts After 4 Weeks

It’s been a solid 4 weeks of getting rid of stuff we’re at 250% of our goal (which we raised part way through January). We’ve averaged almost four things out per day (net). Jess and I talked about how despite the fact that we’ve shed a bunch of stuff, we can’t really feel a difference or big loss in the things we’ve let go. This feels like good confirmation that we’re spending time on a worthwhile project: If we’re shedding this much stuff and barely feeling effects from it then we definitely needed to thin things out.

Looking Forward

We’re taking our average weekly shed rate from the last four weeks and using that as our week 5 target. I’m going to keep my foot on the gas but I definitely know that this high rate won’t be sustainable.

Gross Shed Net Shed
Week 4 Target 20 15
Week 4 Actual 23 21
Week 5 Target 28 25

Stuff & Clutter: Week 3 Recap

I had my birthday this last week which was pretty great. Brunch with the fam and got a handful of gifts (stuff on the “in” side of the equation). I got a new game (Pandemic: The Cure), a much-needed fairway wood, a great shirt, and a workbook to work on my cursive handwriting. All things considered it was a reasonable collection of things coming in. In fact, I had planned for more stuff to be coming in this week.

On the flip side, this fueled a big push this week to get rid of even more stuff. We blew away our number by over three times the shed we targeted. I’m quite surprised at how easy it’s been to find this quantity of stuff to lose. Still it goes a long way to validate the entire effort.

In fact we had enough stuff to warrant another trip to Goodwill. A shorter line this week, but we waited first in line for quite a while. We got a decent little show while the unloading crew played a game of Tetris with six chairs that didn’t really want to fit into THIS woman’s SUV.

Grade This Week: A

Despite a busy week filled with travel and demos, we still found some time to dig in and find a ton of stuff.

Overall Grade: B

We’re ahead of pace right now. More has come in than anticipated, but the overall in/out is tipped well in the right direction.

Thoughts on the metrics

No new thoughts this week.

Looking Forward

No work travel scheduled. The gross and net shed are moving north this week.

Gross Shed Net Shed
Week 3 Target 14 7
Week 3 Actual 48 40
Week 4 Target 20 15

Stuff & Clutter: Week 2 Recap

So the work travel I expected last week didn’t happen, though this doesn’t mean I got to spend a lot of time looking for extra stuff. I did, however, go through some of my closet to weed out some accessories I rarely (or never) used. We also thinned out a couple of travel versions of games that are easily played on an iPad if we’re on the go. Not all of our travel games went though: we focused on the ones that we don’t play a standard version of either. We’re just as likely to bring a smaller “regular” game (like Boss Monster or Moby Dick).

On another note, we made our first run to Goodwill (first for this project anyway) to donate the stuff we’re not keeping. It was a gorgeous day for a Minnesota Sunday in mid-January. While we were in line there were 10 other cars in line to make donations. It’s a tight wraparound driveway to the donation station and we laughed when we saw the tire tracks from someone had gotten impatient, hopped the curb, and drove across the snow-covered grass to another road. Too impatient to wait for the 3 vehicles ahead to unload their donations.

Grade This Week: C

Fell a bit shy on the net shed because of the extra books that I got from my Dad. Week 1 was a knockout, this one was fine but nothing to give a high grade to.

Overall Grade: B

Still on track and ahead of the pace I set.

Thoughts on the metrics

Shed ratio is still wonky for planning purposes. Dropping it from the planning numbers for now. I’ll still report actuals moving forward.

Looking Forward

This will be a tougher week. My birthday means I have some stuff coming in, so the gross shed is going up to keep the same net shed. I have three days of travel this week for work so again I won’t be able to focus on finding stuff to shed this week.

Gross Shed Net Shed Shed Ratio
Week 2 Target 9 7 3:2
Week 2 Actual 10 6 5:2
Week 3 Target 14 7

Stuff & Clutter: Week 1 Recap

Grade This Week: A+

Going into the week I figured we’d be able to meet the targets. In short, we crushed it. I’m giving the “A+” instead of an “A” because Jess also made a big contribution to this week’s shed (and getting things moving).

Overall Grade: B

We’ve made more than enough progress so far, but we may have started too fast or I may have set the targets too low. These next few weeks are going to be busy so I expected to start a little fast but this week’s results were surprisingly high

As mentioned before, I’ll be making adjustments to the targets once we’ve hit a few weeks and have a better sense for what to change them to. No need to

Thoughts on the metrics

Overall, I feel pretty good about the metrics I mentioned last week. That said, the shed ratio itself is causing a bit of heartache. The core concept of the shed ratio is solid, how much more should go out than come in. That said, it’s a little too nebulous as a weekly metric. As we progress through this project it still should serve well as a long-term guide, but for now I won’t be focusing on it much when I talk with folks about how things are going.

Looking Forward

The plan is still to stick with the initial targets I planned. Based on the travel schedule for work I don’t expect to have quite as big of a shed this week.

Gross Shed Net Shed Shed Ratio
Week 1 Target 9 7 3:2
Week 1 Actual 35 28 5:1
Week 2 Target 9 7 3:2

Addressing Stuff & Clutter

Through the holiday season I’ve been quite aware of the amount of time I’m spending on keeping our home tidy. Too much time. While there are plenty of contributing factors, one of the most accessible ways to deal with it is to go through a decluttering exercise to lighten the load of stuff that would otherwise need to be tidied.

Berenstain Bears Book Cover: Messy RoomIt’s not like we have piles of stuff sitting everywhere, but when I look in closets, drawers, and at shelves there’s usually too much stuff in there for my liking. A one-time purge isn’t the right approach because I’m afraid we’ll end up where we’re at today or worse. Instead, I’m taking this on as a project and will keep track of progress.

Below are the shed measures I’m establishing along with the target values for the first 4 weeks.

Shed Ratio – 3:2

3 or more things out for every 2 things in

The core idea is that more needs to go out than what’s coming in. It’d be shortsighted to look only at what I’m getting rid of and ignore what is accumulating. The 3:2 ratio is high and unsustainable in the long term but that’s where I want to start for the first 4 weeks to get out of the blocks fast. After that I’ll have a much better sense for where I’ll adjust the value to for the next month but my guess is a 5:4 or 4:3.

The long-term ideal is to get down to a manageable amount of stuff then keep the ratio at 1:1.

Net Weekly Shed – 7

7 more things out than things in each week

This number establishes a target pace of how much is going out. I’m starting this at the very cliche “1 thing per day”. This is mostly because it’s a round number I’m bullish that I can maintain that for 4 weeks.

The long-term ideal drive this toward 0 as the clutter falls away.

Gross Weekly Shed Minimum – 9

9 or more things go out each week

This gives even further context and meaning to the shed ratio. It would be easy to game the shed ratio  and net weekly shed on their own (especially in the short term) by simply delaying purchases which simply isn’t sustainable in the long run. To establish a good habit, I want to make sure that the goals include room to get stuff we need, so by setting a target shed value of 9 I am basically giving myself a buffer of 2 new things coming in each week.

In the big picture, this adds some gravity to the shed ratio since my “1 thing per day” is in reality more than 1 thing.

The long term ideal here is to drive this value down to 0 as the clutter falls away, but trailing the net weekly shed.

Other Notables

What if these are the wrong shed measuresThey may well be, however I’m usually pretty good at coming up with metrics that will help guide me to my goals. Part of the challenge is that the numbers for any given week vs. the aggregate should be connected but right now they feel very different. I’ve chosen these because a few scenarios I ran seem to have a good balance to chart the course toward my overall goal, though as noted I very much expect to revisit and adjust the specific values.  We’ll see how these hypothetically-reasonable measures prove out 🙂

Won’t there be a lot of administrative overhead in the tracking of stuff? Yes, this will take some work and I’ve already worked out a plan for how I’ll deal with this (details in another post, maybe?). In short I will not track absolutely every single thing in and out.

Conclusion

The measures and targets above are set for the first 4 weeks and will get evaluated and adjusted as necessary. This time period is intentional so I can build the habit here in January. My intent is to keep my foot on the gas of this project for at least 6 months, then evaluate whether I can go into more of a maintenance-mode (or maybe another big push…who knows?).

It’s worth noting that I feel like Jess and I have a pretty good practice of not just buying a bunch of new stuff willy-nilly. That said, I haven’t been paying too close of attention to it and I could be surprised. Regardless, if this works how I intend there should be less stuff to tidy, which will mean more time back in my day. That’d be swell.

Anybody have thoughts on the shed measures, timelines, and targets? Thoughtful comments welcomed.