Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Demessifying Life, the Universe, and Everything

... is, of course, something I will never manage. I chose the title because most aspects of my life are such a mess that I don't know which one to pick. Also, I can't just say: "Ok, I'll start with demessifying my flat, and ignore all tax matters until that is done!", or "I won't do any physical exercise until my job training is finished!" - I have to work on most of them simultaneously. I started this thread to help me keep track of the whole process.

I plan to post here mainly when/if:

  • I set a new intermediate goal, make a new resolution, make a new plan, or try a new method,
  • there's noticeable progress towards a goal,
  • there's noticeable regress, or something else gets worse,
  • I find out that a method works especially well, or not at all, for me,
  • I take a new inventory of the current situation,
  • or there's something else I think I'd better write down.

Problem area: body weight

Setting a new measurable goal: I want to reach normal weight (i.e., BMI < 25) by the end of this year.
I've lost 11 kg during the last few months, and it looks doable now. (No, don't worry, it won't be too fast, either.)

Update 2013-06-21: Lost 12 kg (all in all) and BMI is < 29 now. Way to go, but steady progress. At least something in my life is going according to plan! (For now, at least.) It's encouraging. I'm also "enjoying the ride": At the moment, I cook less, eat less, have to wash less dishes and to do less grocery shopping, and that leaves me noticeably more time for other things.

Update 2013-07-17: Lost 15 kg (all in all) and BMI is < 28 now. Also, I found out that BMI hast to be < 24, not just < 25, for women to have normal weight. The goal still stands and seems reachable, though. Things are currently going good in this area - I just wish I had more time for exercise.

Update 2013-08-02: Lost 18 kg (all in all) and BMI is < 27 now. That's all fine but I still wish I had more time for sports. New goal of restarting a training routine is forming slowly in the back of my mind - but not ready yet. Too many other problems in the foreground.

Update 2013-08-30: Lost 21 kg (all in all) and BMI is < 26 now. I still wish I had more time for sports. It also turns out that if I manage to get to normal weight before end of 2013, and get my doctor to certify it, I'll get money from my health insurance's bonus program. One more incentive!

Update 2013-10-04: Lost 24 kg (all in all) and BMI is < 25 now - but just barely. Weight loss has slowed down quite a bit, and that's not good. It's all because I just can't find the time to work out in any way, no matter how much I try. I miss it so much.

Update 2013-12-27: Lost 28 kg (all in all) and BMI is < 24 now. Reached goal within the set deadline (though a little later than I thought). Got normal weight certified by my doctor as planned, thus qualifying for the money from my health insurance's bonus program. Still not enough time for sports, though (except during the last three days = Xmas holidays).

Problem area: email

Some progress here: I deleted a few hundred old emails (not obvious spam, but stuff I'd found important enough to archive once) and got my emails down to less than 1000 today. Not good enough (there's still some chaos and useless mails in there, plus a lot of info that should be saved elsewhere) but a start. The contacts list is still chaotic, too.

Edit 2013-06-16: Sorted through contacts list. At least I know now where I know everyone from, though it could still use some editing. Also decided I'll change to a better mailer. Made some preparations but didn't do that yet.






Too much of a good thing

I’m still trying to make a „fearless and searching“ inventory of all my stuff. I’m using my simple homespun MySQL database for it so far. And I’ve still only entered a fraction of my stuff into it – making the entries takes a lot more time than just putting all the stuff somewhere and hoping I’ll still know what I have and where it is next year. But I’ve tried that several times and it never worked, so I’ll stick with the inventory idea.

At the moment, I’m still sorting through my clothing. And the inventory list gives me undeniable proof that I have too much of it. Mostly reasonable, practical clothing – everyday clothes that I like to wear and that I’d buy again if I needed any – but just too many of them. Now, the strange thing is: I don’t even like buying clothes. Being in a boutique is not my idea of a good time. I buy most of my clothes on sale in supermarkets, and for my jeans-t-shirt-sweatshirt style, that’s usually good enough. (Recent events in Bangladesh made me rethink, though. If I ever need to buy clothes again, I’d better read up on fair trade clothing certificates first.) I’m not interested in fashion at all, I’m just trying to wear comfortable, practical and socially adequate clothing. And I don’t get a kick out of “making a snatch” and buying five t-shirts for the price of three although I only need zero of them, either. I always thought I was a halfway reasonable person regarding shopping for clothes. So how come I ended up with heaps of the stuff?

Apparently, the answer is: Lack of organization, and a bad memory. The process usually went like this: I needed some piece of clothing for some occasion, like: a dark blue t-shirt, or a pair of jeans that looked halfway new and fit really well, or a pair of proper black trousers, or a pair of grey socks. Then I started looking for it among my stuff, but didn’t find it. So I thought I needed to buy one, and did. But in fact, I already owned such a piece of clothing, only it was stored somewhere in the deep dark recesses of some sinister and forbidding wardrobe, or in some box under the bed, because I didn’t need it daily and didn’t have enough space in my "closer to the surface" drawers and shelves to store it there. (In the case of trousers, the situation was even more confusing due to weight changes and not all trousers fitting at all times...)

Now, I don’t want to give all my excess clothes away to the used clothing collection. If I did that, I'd have to buy the same ones again in a few years, and I just can’t afford to waste the money. So, I want to stick to the system of having a few clothes in reach for daily use and storing the rest away. Only, this time, I want to keep tabs on what I have and where it is, so I can find it easily without rifling through all my stuff. Also, I want to select the “daily use” assortment more wisely.
So, my resolutions are:

  • I’ll keep an inventory of what I have and where it is, and I’ll try to keep it current.
  • I won’t buy any new clothes during the next few years, except after thoroughly examining
    a) the database,
    b) the need for the specific piece of clothing, and
    c) my conscience.
  • Where socially appropriate, I’ll use up old, ugly clothing first. (I can’t wear really old t-shirts to work, but I can wear them alone at home, and I can use up old pyjamas, socks, etc., first.)
  • I’ll figure out how much, and what, I really need to have in reach for daily use, and keep the rest in storage boxes or similar.
  • I’ll try to keep the boxes easily accessible. (I’ll have to take out rarely used pieces of clothing from time to time, and I’ll have to change the “daily use” assortment according to season and weight changes.)

I'm really curious how many of these resolutions I'll be able to keep. I'm currently trying hard, but whatever I do takes up much more time than I'd thought, and the clothing problem is just one tiny part of the whole situation.

Clothes situation improved

Since I'm already in the process of writing here, I'll give a quick update on my "clothing situation":

  • All clothing inventorized EXCEPT shoes and some strange clothes having to do with a former hobby. (They are stored so far "down" under and behind other stuff that I haven't dug through to them yet.) But things like towels, bedsheets and other textiles that aren't literally clothing are included.
  • No new clothes bought EXCEPT short training fins for swimming. (I'm very happy with them, I did need them.) I intend to keep it that way.
  • Clothes separated into "daily use" and "in storage" as planned. Works well so far. More space in my immediate surroundings, everything I need is in reach. Some boxes in the cellar - I wish there were less, but so far, they didn't cause problems.
  • In the ceiling of the cellar room I put the boxes in, a water pipe started to leak, and some water dripped down and a lot of plaster was strewn around, and the boxes had to be moved into another part of the cellar to renew the pipe - AND IT DIDN'T MATTER. Big stackable plastic storage boxes with lids are a good thing! (Actually, I didn't have many of them and put some stuff into open folding boxes, but had the foresight to put them into big plastic sacks, first, and close them well. Worked, too.)
  • I gave one item away. (I didn't have a use for it anymore, someone else had and was glad about it.) Planning on giving away/selling/donating a few more (no, I can't just put them in the dustbin, they are still good stuff), but haven't gotten around to do that yet. One step at a time... The stuff is marked in the database as "To do: get rid of", too. Once there is time (ha ha), I can work down the list.
  • I've lost 8 kg. (In my case, that's good for my health and I'd better lose some more.) Trying to keep it going. If successful, I'll ged rid of my wider trousers (which will hopefully prevent me from regaining weight, too).

I've started on going through some of my non-clothing stuff now. Haven't gotten very far with that yet, though.

Do you know a good Home Inventory Program?

I have those two intermediate goals:

  • Big goal: Demessify my flat, and get an overview of the things I have and where to find them.
  • Medium goal: Learn MySQL and database handling, up to - say - level 2.5 out of 10. (I need to do this anyway for job-related reasons.)

So I started setting up a MySQL database as an inventory of all my stuff. Then I thought again, realizing that hundreds of versions of just such a program must already be available. I googled a bit and found a few things. It seems most of these programs are tailored to document inventory for insurances (in case the house burns down, etc.) - not that that would be a bad thing or make them unsuitable for my main goal of demessifying. But I didn't really get a good idea yet of what's out there and what I need. I'll certainly have to google a bit more, and download and try stuff.

Meanwhile, I put the question to you: Do you have any experience with such programs? Can you recommend anything? (Or warn me about one that's especially bad?)

Looking at the software side:
I'm using a Windows computer. For learning SQL, I'm using XAMPP and a program named HeidiSQL. I've also tried Server2go, but somehow couldn't get HeidiSQL started with it (though it should definitely be possible - it's the combination they use at job training - and I'll probably figure it out eventually). I don't have Microsoft Access.

The ideal case would be if the inventory program was MySQL, freeware, and open source, too, so I could look into it and see how people who really know what they're doing set up such a database. But those are not mandatory conditions, and I'm also willing to spend money and buy a) the program and b) the software necessary for it (like Access) if it's a program that will really help me.

I could also go on using and experimenting with the very simple database I've already started. In that case, I'd also be glad about help and hints and advice. (Maybe somewhere out there, there is a tutorial for setting up just such a database? I don't mean a general SQL tutorial - I've found those.)

And now I'll go enter one more piece of clothing (fresh from the clothesline) into my little database before I store it away...

Yet another link for home inventory tools

I'm still using my own database, but for those interested in the topic: Here's another article/discussion and some suggestions.

@ Riddled

I do love this idea. I have nothing useful to offer in the way of program details, but I think you are showing us the way of the future here.

Good luck with the project.


@riddled: App for home inventory

Just saw this review in New York Times ...
an app for inventorying the items in your home.

I don't have a smartphone, so I cannot test these.
But I remembered your post here, so I thought I would reply.

@movingalong: Thank you for apps!

Thank you for the link! It is very kind of you to still remember this post, and share that information. And these apps sound really useful and simple to use. I have an Android smartphone, so I could try two of the apps reviewed there. But, frankly, I probably won't (except maybe later, out of curiosity), for the following reasons:

  • I've already started making an inventoy with my own database. It's a very simple one, entering data is simple, too, but even so, it's very time-consuming if there are a lot of items, and I'd have to start from scratch again if I switched to one of the apps.
  • I'm not very fast when it comes to entering text into a smartphone. Computer is faster.
  • Storage is always scarce on my smartphone, despite extra storage card. If I'd put an inventory app on it and made entries for all my things, I'd probably run out of storage.
  • My database lets me do things like putting things in a bag in a box in another box in a drawer in a wardrobe (and actually finding them again). And I only have to change one entry when I move a box full of stuff around. (The entry of the box, that is.) It also lets me do things like putting items in several categories at once (for example, a programming book would be in "books" and "computer stuff"), and dividing, for example, my clothing into "fits", "too small", "too big", and at the same time into "everyday wear", "elegant", "ugly", and at the same time into "t-shirt", "sweater", etc. MAYBE the apps can do that, too, but I doubt it.
  • The apps seem to have some features I really don't need (yet?) - fotos, barcodes, insurance, estimated value in money, ... My little SQL thingy doesn't, and needs very little storage space. And if I need more features, it's easy to build new ones.

Sounds like my little database is really ingenious - NO, it definitely is NOT, it's VERY raw and VERY simple and has no user interface - if you can't do SQL, you can't use it - but it's tailored to fit and hasn't caused me any real problems yet. (And I'd really expected it would! Knocking on wood here...) So I'll stick with it so far.

But I'm sure the apps will be useful for some people here! If anyone tries, please tell me about your experiences with them - I'm curious!