Planners are great for time management. We all get it; we are more likely to do something if we write it down. And writing down where your time goes helps to create plans for managing that time wisely. Of course, it is about more than just time, isn't it? Time by itself, doesn't give us a lot to work with, we also need to know what we are going to do with that time - it’s about behaviors. Maybe this is why watches were going extinct until fitness trackers came along and saved them.
We want to share with you what others have done to track their behaviors and reach their goals. We will be sharing what worked and what didn’t through short case studies. (If you would like to participate in the case studies we will be sharing, please feel free to contact us.)
To kick off this case study series on self management, we are going to share an extended case study of our own self management project over the next month.
At this point, Dan and I have used the Self Management Planner for tracking dozens of behaviors – running, biking, stretching, water intake, reading, strength exercises, studying, writing – and the list goes on. Some of these plans have gone better than others, but for the most part, they are at least somewhat successful because they are based on activities we are already fairly good at and that we already do quite often. It almost seems like cheating.
So we are going to do something that will likely be a bit harder for us – getting rid of anything we don’t need. We claim that we are nature lovers, that we could live in the woods with virtually nothing; that we are not at all materialistic. However, the massive amount of stuff we own begs to differ. It seems that we are fine backpacking with nothing, as long as we know that we will be coming home to a house full of crap we don’t need.
When I suggested to Dan that we get rid of 465 items over the course of 30 days, I thought he might pass out. It does sound like a lot, but looking around our place, we seem to have more than a lot crammed into every shelf and drawer, or just sitting on the floor. It makes me quite sick to see everything we have. We can’t possibly need all of it.
So here is how this will work. Each day we will post a picture of what we are getting rid of. The goal is to have it all out of our house within 10 days of this purge ending. For a lot of it, we might not actually get rid of it the day we post it because we don’t want to just throw these things away. If possible, we would like them reused, purchased, or donated.
So if you know where something could be put to use, please comment or contact us throughout these next 30 days!
Being the behavior analysts that we are, we of course want to take data on this. We are clearly not the first people to dream up the idea of cleaning house. Plenty of people claim that getting rid of possessions creates room for the more important things in life. The question however, is how do you measure this? Are there actually measurable benefits to purging yourself of unnecessary household items?
We have no idea, so we are just going to take data on the following and we will see if it tells us anything. If you have any thoughts on other measurements we can take, we would love to hear it!
1. Number of items removed from house
2. Items bought that are not a necessity (i.e. food, drink, toiletries…)
3. Quality* time spent together (*quality time is time spent talking or jointly doing an activity – quality time is NOT time spent next to each other not engaging, such as watching TV)
So we will see how this goes. Here is the outline of our plan:
Goal: Get 465 items out of our house in the next 30 days
Measures: Items gone; New items bought; Quality time together
Subjective Measures: notes on what we have gained through getting rid of an item, if anything
Interventions: Data collection; Social posts (Picture of items to go, Graphs of data); Prompts (on calendar – says the number of items to ditch each day) - we will see if we need additional prompts
And here is day 1: