May 30 Day Project

Before I discuss May’s 30 day project, I’m going to talk about April’s.

Last month, my goal was to declutter my entire house.  Every room, every closet, every drawer.

I missed the goal.

My wife has gotten behind this project wholeheartedly.   She’s had friends over helping almost every weekend.  She’s kept the kids occupied while I’ve been working on it. It’s been a team effort, which has been nice.    One room at a time, we’ve tackled the entire house, except for a couple of spots.

Our son’s closet isn’t finished.   He hasn’t had use of his closet since we moved him into the room he’s in.  It’s been the filing center for a couple of business opportunities.   Most of it has been cleared out, but not all.  It will be finished in the next few days.

Our storage room isn’t done.  It pains me to have a “storage room”, but I don’t think its purpose will be changing.   Now, however, instead of unopened appliances and boxes of clothes, it’s almost down to just seasonal stuff and things we do need occasionally.    We have the Christmas decorations, the pet crates, and a few other things that get used rarely, but do get used.   This room used to have a 6-foot cabinet of computer parts, leftover from the days when building/supporting computers was my main side-hustle.   That has been reduce to just one box, mostly power cords.    The gaming pads and old hard drives are gone.    All that’s left for this room is one shelf, and the remainder of another old side-hustle that has some emotional attachment for my wife.

The remaining trouble spots will be cleaned out by this weekend.   We’re having a garage sale the following weekend, and it will all be there. We’ve been pricing as we’ve been sorting, so we’re almost ready.

Decluttering an entire house that’s been filled by the horrible habits of two accumulators means we literally have thousands of things we’ll be selling in two weeks.   We split our garage with our roommmate.   Our stall is full.    We’ve got some stuff in the driveway.   We’ve got a pile of boxes in the basement, ready to go.  Our dining room is full.

Let me repeat that last point:  Our dining room is full.

My project for May was supposed to have been having dinner at the table at least 3 nights per week.   At the moment, I’m not entirely sure we still have a table. I certainly can’t see it and there is no way to use it for dinner.  This project has to be moved.

So, what’s the plan for May?   I’m going to tackle June’s project.

I will not use the computer while anyone else is awake, except for household necessities. Household necessities on the computer are almost nonexistent, since I’ve automated almost everything.    I balance the checkbook on a monthly basis, and may have to pay a quarterly bill later this month.   I’m going to take the time to be with my family, and do something that matters more than Google Reader.  That means writing happens after everyone goes to bed, or at 5AM, which will be motivation to keep that wake-up time. Internet on the blackberry counts as computer use.

Family first.

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Decluttering the House – April 30 Day Project Update

My 30 Day Project for April is to declutter my entire house.   That’s every room, every dresser, every drawer. We’ve got 12 years of jointly accumulated clutter.

Our progress so far has been wonderful.   The main level of our house is almost done.

In our daughters’ room, we put in bunk beds and pulled out a dresser.   With the crib, changing table, and toddler bed removed, they actually have room to play on the floor.  Their closet has been emptied and repurposed as scrapbooking and blanket storage.  Cost: $140 for the bunk beds.

Our son’s room has had a dresser, a desk, and a bed replaced with a loft bed.   Even with the 6 foot tall monstrosity of a bed, his room looks so much bigger.    We still have to clean out his closet, which is mostly artifacts of a business we no longer have, leftovers from when his bedroom was our office.  Cost: $260 for the loft bed.

Our room was depressing. Never dirty, but oh-so-full.   The closet was jam-packed.  The top shelf was full of towels and sheets.   The closet rod couldn’t fit another shirt.   There was a modular shelving system on the floor of the closet–full.  We had three full dressers.   The headboard has 5 foot tall cabinets, half of which were full of makeup and jewelry, the other half with books.   Now, there is 1 empty dresser.   It belonged to my great-grandmother, so it’s going to the shop to be refinished, instead of the garage sale to be sold.   Another dresser has spare room in it.   There’s no need to rearrange the cabinets to get to anything.    The closet is less than half full and there is almost nothing on the floor of the closet.   Gear for my side-line business is stored out of sight and out of the way.  This is so much more relaxing.

We’ve tackled the kitchen, except for 1 cabinet, which is mostly cookbooks and booze.   That will be fun to clean out.

Our front closet was worthless.   It was so full we put hooks on the outside of the door to hang our coats.   We pulled out a dozen coats we never wear.   At least 20 pairs of shoes, some belonging to roommates gone 1o years.   We can actually use the closet now. The shoes and boots all have homes.  Our coats all fit…inside.

We have 1 closet and 1 cabinet left to address on the main level.   There are also 3 small rooms in the basement that need to be gutted–the laundry room, the family room, and a room that has been designated for storage and the litter box.    The last one will be the hardest.    It’s full of remnants of hobbies past and failed ventures.   I’m expecting some fights, flowing every possible direction.

In the process, we’ve filled our dining room with stuff for our garage sale…twice.   It’s all getting priced and boxed as we go through it.   We thrown away anything we won’t be able to sell.   We’ve done all of this with the mutual understanding that nothing is coming back in the house.  After the sale, it will be donated or sold on Craigslist, but it won’t become a part of our lives again.   We are successfully purging so much.    The “skinny clothes” are gone.   When the time comes, they’ll be replaced.  In the meantime, they can be put to better use on someone else.   Hobbies that never took, games that are never played, it’s all going.    We are getting down to the things that are actually used and useful.

It’s interesting to note that the process is getting easier as the month goes by.     My Mother-in-Law is a hoarder.    Those habits get passed down, but what was originally a source of stress has turned into a pleasant chore.

The most wonderful discovery of all?  It turns out we don’t need a better storage system, we just need less stuff.

Update:  This post has been included in the Money Hacks Carnival.

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Failure! 30 Day Project Summary – March

My 30 Day Project for the month of March has been to do 100 sit-ups in a single set.   Based on February’s results, I had a plan.

I will be doing 5 sets, morning and night, as follows:

Set 1:  Half of my maximum amount.

Sets 2-4: 3/4 of my max.

Set 5: Do sit-ups until my abs start to cramp, thus setting my max for the next session.

I failed miserably.

It started off perfectly.   My base amount was 20 sit-ups.   I had a plan.  I’d proven, at least to myself, that I was able to follow an intense workout plan, even through pain.    I was encouraged by February’s results, so I dove in.

The first 3 or 4 days went well.   I had some muscle strain, but that was expected.   I hadn’t done sit-ups for years.   I discovered muscles I actually hadn’t known existed, just from how they hurt.   This was the good pain, the pain that shows progress.  After doing the push-ups in February, this pain wasn’t as bad as I had expected.   Push-ups are an excellent ab workout.

Maybe I became complacent.  Either my form slipped, or I was going too fast and “bounced” through the sit-ups, but I pulled a muscle in my back.   This was the bad pain, the pain that warns of fundamental problems.   My form, my size, my history of back problems, who knows?   One or more of those possible problems reared up to turn an excellent idea into a disaster.   March’s plan got sidelined for a few days.

When my back was better, I started again.   Again, everything was fine for 3 or 4 days.  Then my back betrayed me, again.   Another break, another try, another strain and I gave up.    I made it to 50, then just stopped.   Too much more, and I wouldn’t be able to tolerate sitting at my desk.   Or maybe I just wimped out, afraid to hurt my back again.

I’m disappointed.   I haven’t done a single sit-up in the last week.

To make matters worse, without the sit-ups to do in the morning, I’ve been letting myself snooze my alarm clock instead of getting up at 5.   March has been such a slacker month.

Lesson learned:  Always listen to your body.   Don’t get tied into a specific routine–even one you created for yourself–if your body is demanding to stop.   Watch your form and make sure you aren’t putting undue strain on anything that can cause long-term damage.

Lesson learned, part II:  Push-ups are more fun and less painful than sit-ups.   They will be getting incorporated into my ongoing routine.

Ending the sit-ups did leave me enough energy to get an early start on April’s 30 Day Project.   The goal for next month is to declutter every room in the house:   Every closet, every dresser, every drawer.

Loft Bed

Loft Bed

To start, we replaced our son’s dresser, bed, and desk with a loft-bed that combines the three.   While transferring items from the desk and dresser to the new bed, everything was sorted to make sure it still fit and was used and useful.  If it didn’t meet those criteria, it was either tossed or priced and boxed for a garage sale.

In the girls’ room, we removed a dresser, the changing table, a toddler bed, a convertible crib/toddler bed.  It all got replaced with a set of bunk beds and the dresser we took from our son.   Everything got the same garage-sale check before it was put away.

Both of these changes easily tripled the usable floor space in each room and all of the kids love their new beds.   Using the magic of Craigslist, I think we got the new furniture for 10-15% of retail, and have old furniture to add to our sale, which will further defray the cost.

This leaves the master bedroom, the bathroom, the front closet, the kitchen and our entire basement to go.   Shoes and jackets that have never been worn.   Books that will never be reread.  Bye-bye.   Some of it will be painful, but we all realize it’s necessary.  We’ve already filled more than 2 dozen boxes of stuff to sell.   None of it is coming back in the house.  If it doesn’t sell, we’re donating it.

More to come as we progress through the mountains of crap.

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February 30 Day Project #1: Romantic Gestures

For the month of February, I had two 30 Day Projects: Do 100 pushups in a single set and another, that I haven’t posted.   Until now.

The reason I haven’t posted anything about the second project is because it would have ruined it.   I set a goal to do something nice for my wife every single day.   It’s really a much harder goal than it sounds.   Between juggling wrestling practice, crabby kids, the usual winter illnesses and deadlines at work, finding time to arrange for anything special presents a challenge, and I wanted it to be a surprise.

This morning, the last day of the month, I made breakfast in bed.  While she was eating, I handed her a letter and set a present on the floor next to the bed.  The present was one of our wedding invitations, framed, and the closing of our wedding ceremony in a matching frame.

The letter reads:

Dearest,

As you know, I’ve been working on a series of thirty-day projects.   In January, I got up at 5 every day and read to the girls almost every day.   If February, my project has been to get to 100 pushups in a single set.   Almost.

I worked at that and accomplished it, but it was really a cover project.  I love you and wanted a way to express that.  So, my main project has been you.

In the first week of the month, we had two snowstorms, do you remember?  For each one, I made sure to get your truck cleaned off before you were ready to go to work, with fresh coffee.   At the beginning of the week, you got a full 30 minute backrub, with absolutely no hidden motive.   At the end of the week, I sent you a letter expressing my feelings.  Over the weekend, you had no diapers to do–I think you ended up with one–and I let you sleep in as late as you wanted on Sunday.   It was a good first week.

The second week, there was another snowstorm on Monday.  Combining that with the grocery shopping kept me from having time to do anything on Monday, but Tuesday, you woke up to a clean truck again.  Wednesday, there were flowers.  Thursday, dinner.   Game night at [friend’s house]?  That was planned, by me, 3 weeks in advance.   Over the weekend, I watched the kids so you could go to [cousin’s] to relax, and you got breakfast in bed on Sunday.  I may have missed a day, but the week was still a success, I think.

The following week, while you were getting ready for bed, you saw me go outside and asked about it.  Thankfully, the girls woke up, because I had just put a note in your truck telling you 10 things I love about you.   I also took all of the kids to wrestling–twice–to give you some sanity time and gave you another long backrub.  This was also the week you got sick, which meant a day in bed for you, instead of me being able to plan something nice.

This week, the last week of the month, I took all of the kids to wrestling again, giving you a chance to take a nice, relaxing bath.  Those were originally planned to be two separate nights.   Instead, it was combined into one night.   I also managed to go shopping to buy the components of the present I am giving you, put the present together, and write this letter.  Last night, our date was a part of this, and today, so is breakfast.

My goal has been to do something nice for you, every day. So now, for an entire month, you have been the focus of my dedicated attention, nearly every single day.  I’ve felt closer to you, than I have in a while.   Have you enjoyed the attention?

Happy Valentine’s Month.

The actual expenses were the flowers, the frames, dinner and a movie, and a buy-in for Texas Hold ‘Em at her cousin’s house. Everything else was done with what we have, gifts of time and energy instead of money.

Total cost: $159 for an entire month of romantic gestures. Money well-spent, for sure.

Update:  This post has been included in the Money Hacks Carnival.

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