Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

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

OM at Home – Letting Go of the Clutter – Part II

on February 7, 2012

I’ll try to keep this post more brief than the last.  🙂 If you missed yesterday’s post, you can find it here.

I’m on a purging mission at home, trying to figure out what things are most worth keeping and getting rid of the rest.  This task is not easy for me, perhaps because I haven’t been disciplined or motivated enough to do this much before, and I’m a pretty sentimental person.  But, it is getting easier.

In addition to the influences I mentioned in my last post, spending a week in January going through some of my mother-in-law’s possessions as my husband’s family tried to clean out part of her house showed me some reality, too.  Not everyone values the same things, and clutter can be a tremendous burden when left behind.

Some of the questions I’m asking myself are helping me to be more realistic and to actually smile as I send some things to the trash and some to better homes:

  • Could someone else use this more than I am (or than I have in the last year or more)?  (I don’t need those books for singles as much right now.)  I can get pretty excited imagining a friend or stranger benefiting from my things!
  • Would I rather keep this or that, since I only have room for one (applied to books, notebooks, t-shirts, etc. so far)?
  • Would this be a mess for Chad and Clara to go through should something happen to me?
  • Would it be worth it to them to keep or would it be too difficult to decipher in this form (i.e. my boxes of papers to be made into scrapbooks – when time allows…)?
And, the most effective so far (besides the first question listed):
  • Would I notice if this was gone?  (This is a bit difficult when I’m finding old “treasures” for the first time in years and reminiscing, but if I didn’t remember the item was stored in that box, would I really miss it?)

I’m not as good with what may be standard questions like, “Have you used (or worn) it in the last year?”  I’m having more success thinking about “If the Chapman tornado would have taken this away, would I be upset?”

On the OM/business side of this, my “stuff” is inventory.  Inventory is costly to keep.  Businesses quantify these costs as “holding costs,” and these can be as much as 40% of the item’s value annually!  Why do you see end-of-season sales and after-Christmas specials?  A store can only hold so many goods, and what is displayed needs to have the most potential for making higher profits.   In developing inventory models (to figure out how much inventory is appropriate to meet customer needs and keep costs lowest), total costs consider ordering costs (How much does it cost us to acquire the good?), purchasing costs, and holding costs.

So before you take home that “free” item or jump on that “great deal” at the store, consider if it’d be worth paying 20-40% of the item’s value each year to keep it in your house.  Also, consider that excess inventory hides problems within systems (See my post regarding A Sea of Inventory.), and clutter can decrease efficiency and productivity.  I also agree with Amy’s e-book (free for those who “Like” her Raising Arrows Facebook page) that holding on to our “stuff” is a heart issue that needs  some serious consideration as we seek to become more like Christ.

I’m definitely a work in progress, but I’m off to a great start!  During today’s nap time, I’m going to try to go through the marching band music and drill charts I’ve saved for about 15 years…


Note:  My husband’s encouragement, support, and great patience in this personal process is also a huge key to the success I feel!  Thanks, Chad! 

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