Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Operations Management at Home – Letting Go of the Clutter – Part 1

on February 6, 2012

I could not believe what happened this weekend!  I feel like my house – and even my life – have been transformed!  The actual changes are small, but significant.  For me, getting started on a project that seems overwhelming is the most difficult part.

We’re still working to move my office downstairs to make a room for Baby.  That in itself wouldn’t be bad — if I hadn’t neglected the upkeep of that room for the three years we’ve been in this house.  Add to that the numerous boxes of books and notes I brought home from my school office, and we’ve had a big mess in our basement for weeks.  I’ve worked, little by little, to move and organize books, but so much was still to be done.

My friend Amy at Raising Arrows  is offering a free e-book to “Only Likers” on the Raising Arrows Facebook page entitled Letting Go of What You Own, A Biblical Approach to Decluttering.   I downloaded the e-book a couple of weeks ago.  The book is short, only about 7-8 pages, but I didn’t have time to read it all before I needed to leave town for a few days to be with my family.  I left the file open on the computer, though, and for the few days after my return, Chad asked if I had read it.  He had.  (Not that he really needed to.  Relative to me, at least, he’s much better at discerning “clutter” and avoiding it.)

I read the book last week, and I began to reevaluate many things.  (I think God was already working on my heart in this area, so combined with that, the book, and some potential nesting instinct kicking in, I’m making some progress.)

One was the shelf in our biggest closet that was filled (nearly to the ceiling in places) with primarily books on Christian living that have, unfortunately, been nearly untouched since… probably my days in Nebraska (about 6-7 years).   I felt like I was hording a resource for myself for no good reason.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to donate the books to our church’s library where others could benefit – and I wouldn’t need to store them?

Saturday, I went through the closet.  I picked out books to share with family, friends, and the library.  Chad and I picked out some books to sell at the local used book store.  While Chad went through our video library, I pulled out my books, creating shelf space for the notebooks from classes that I feel are more necessary to keep as references for the time.

The space-making donations gave me a sense of accomplishment, but so did actually throwing away some of my long-kept notes.  On one of my first trips up the stairs, I handed Chad a few folders of organic chemistry notes and asked him to put them in the recycling before I changed my mind.  Organic chemistry?  My roommates at the time could tell you I hated those classes!  Why had I clung to those notes?  In my first job out of college as a rubber compounder, the college classes I took that would have been the most helpful were in organic chemistry, but I hadn’t learned enough to really help – AND I DIDN’T REFER TO THOSE NOTES EVEN THEN!  That was 12 years ago.  Why had I clung to them – and moved them 6 times across 3 states?

I came to my Computational Techniques notes, two semesters of required programming for chemical engineering majors.  I seriously think my FORTRAN programming days are over.  I thought that after graduation, but we did use FORTRAN in my simulation class in graduate school.  But, I never pulled out my notes from those undergrad classes to help with my grad class.  I was able to relearn what I needed to without that reference.  I threw the notes away with a feeling of success!  I learned how to program better through those courses, and the logical approach I learned I carry with me – without those notes.  (One sheet in my folder had an index of the programs I had written.  They are all on 3.5″ floppy disks (remember those?) – somewhere in the house still.  UGH!)

There are some things I’m not yet ready to part with.  I kept my notes from some other undergrad classes that I likely won’t need – unless I plan to take the PE exam someday to get my engineering license, but next time, I think the Statics and Electrical Circuits and Controls notes can go.  I’ll likely hang on to my Engineering Physics resources a bit longer.  Some classes hold memories for me that I think I fear will be lost if I let go of my physical reminders.

But, there’s a practical side to consider right now.  Baby is coming.  Soon.  And Baby is much more important than my silly college notes or trinkets or texts!  I have to make choices.  I have to be realistic.  (Am I really going to go back and study statics on my own for fun with a newborn and a toddler to care for and supper to prepare?)

I’m excited to have finally jumped over this hurdle of getting started with “purging” and letting go of my “stuff!”  I still have a long way to go to get to where we have only what we need, but with each paper I threw away, I felt a new freedom!    The feeling is somewhat addictive, and I’m already thinking of how I may be able to schedule going through one room a month to try to keep things better under control once we have this starting point.

In my next post, I’ll plan to share with you some of the questions I asked myself that helped me decide to throw away or donate the things I was going through.  Perhaps they will be helpful for you, too!   I’ll also share an operations management (OM) concept regarding “inventory” that also makes practical sense in our homes.

~Dana

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3 responses to “Operations Management at Home – Letting Go of the Clutter – Part 1

  1. Marla says:

    It truly is freeing to get rid of stuff! We are doing a lot of decluttering and getting rid of things in preparation for our move. It is amazing how much less stressful our home feels without all of the clutter (and how much better we feel knowing that the items we don’t use were given to people who will use them)!

  2. […] by Dana K in Homemaking, Inventory, Lean Systems, New Beginnings, Operations Management at Home Tags: decluttering, homemaking, inventory, lean systems I’ll try to keep this post more brief than the last.  🙂 If you missed yesterday’s post, you can find it here. […]

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