S.M.A.R.T. Goal Update

Posted on April 22, 2012 | in 5S, Inventory, Lean Tools, Lean Wastes, Personal | by

Back in January I provided a definition to S.M.A.R.T. goals (or smart goals) and also shared a few examples I have for myself. One of those goals is reducing the amount of “stuff” I retain in my belongings.

The goal specifically: I aim to reduce (or turnover) 500 pounds of belongings by the end of the 2012 year.

It’s specific and measurable (500 or more pounds, as opposed to “get rid of some stuff”), achievable (I am to turn over stuff I either don’t need or haven’t used in a long time), realistic (if I don’t use something for a long time, do I really need to keep it?), and time-based (by the end of the year 2012).

Back in March I relocated from a community north of Dayton, Ohio to a suburb of Augusta, Georgia. Essentially packing and loading by myself, I didn’t want to drag everything I own to my new place if I wasn’t even really in need of everything. While packing I took a lot of time to do a giant sort and determine what needed to come with me and what did not. This was a great opportunity to put a big dent in the goal of 500 pounds of reduced “stuff.”

Let’s just say I blew the goal out of the water.

First, when packing stuff into boxes I evaluated all not-so-obviously-needs-to-be-packed items for whether it should join me in Georgia. I sorted a lot of clothes, shoes, odds-and-ends and doodads, electronics, books, freebies, and other things I would be crazy to keep.

I’ve never gotten rid of books. Ever. Never sold textbooks back to the school bookstore, and I am probably Barnes & Noble’s best customer for as many books as I buy. So for me to take books off of my shelf is a big step. Out-of-date baseball books, book duplicates (Built to Last I had two copies), and other books I’d never crack again got the boot – 30 titles in all. (Still, this was very hard for me.)

So many other things got sent off to Goodwill or recycling – a 13″ television I would use as a backup (I hardly watch any TV anyway, why do I need two?), some kitchen containers, clothes, shoes, branded giveaways from Dannon suppliers, computer bags (I have three computers, I don’t need six cases), a big box of Sports Business Journal back issues (from 2005-2006!), ill-fitting snow pants (I’m going to Georgia), and some CD’s I’d never listen to again. I estimate the weight reduction to be approximately 200 pounds.

This also doesn’t count my hoarded collections of recyclables (besides the SBJ back issues) of cans, plastic jugs, cardboard, and other stuff. I probably had 60 pounds of recycling that was taken in.

Now we get to the big stuff. I handed off two very large pieces of furniture that I’ve carried with me for a long time – and it really hurt to part with them even more than the books. First, a large custom-built solid wood entertainment center. I simply didn’t need to tote around something so large when I don’t require it – it was a hand-me-down from my parents, and while it fit their needs and the stereo/television they owned at the time it was far larger than what I need. I will get by with something considerably smaller. While I didn’t weigh it, it easily eclipsed 300 pounds in weight.

The other very large piece of furniture is one I’ve had since 2003 – a U-shaped office desk with credenza and desk chair. (I wish I snapped a picture of it.) I loved this desk because it gave me plenty of work space. Unfortunately, having a desk that large required renting an extra room at any living space I’d take, so the desk was also quite the albatross. The desk was a great deal when I first purchased it, but between the weight and all the moves I’ve had over the years it was very cumbersome to handle. Add to that the extra $100/month for its own room, paid over 9 years and that great deal doesn’t sounds so good anymore. This desk weighed well in excess of 400 pounds.

Other things I passed off to other people or simply left behind:

  • Weed trimmer
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • Deck chairs
  • Weightlifting bar + 60 pounds of weights

While in the past I’ve been able to keep a very accurate record of the weights of items I’ve reduced I did not have the luxury of time to pay that much attention or a scale large enough to weigh a desk and an entertainment center. That being said, the 500 pounds was easily eclipsed because I’m confident in the general weight measurements/comparisons I can make based on my attempts to lift each item many times over the years.

I think it’s entirely possible that 500 pounds isn’t as ambitious as I originally thought. Maybe next year I bump it up a little higher.

Either way, I’m more than 500 pounds lighter and that’s a big strain lifted off of my shoulders. This is what you can do when you apply the first step of 5S to your work life and home life. What can you sort out of your belongings that will help reduce your footprint/make someone else’s life easier/become a tax deduction?

Bye bye Ohio!

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5 Responses to “S.M.A.R.T. Goal Update”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    Congrats on getting rid of unnecessary stuff. My wife and I have been donating and trashing a lot of stuff in advance of our upcoming move.

    So you surpassed your goal… in a real business setting, if you blew away the goal or target, maybe that means the target was just too easy to achieve. We see that sort of game playing each year, especially when annual reviews and objectives are in place. Let’s say we have the opportunity, through process improvement, to reduce lead time by 50% relatively easily if we applied Lean methods. If we are allowed to set a goal of, say, 10%, we can easily blow that goal away and meet our bonus. We run the risk of people sandbagging or not improving “too much” as to make next year’s number easier to hit. Who suffers when we are “managing the numbers” — the customer and the organization.

    That’s one of the reasons Dr. Deming warned about “management by objectives.” Not to pick on you, but was the goal of 500 pounds pretty arbitrary? It sounds like it.

    In a business setting, if we are going to have targets, they should be meaningful to the customer. For example, in healthcare, the goal for infections should be ZERO, not just a 5% reduction on last year’s numbers or being better than a peer group that performs badly.

    When “SMART” goals distract us from the real issues and when SMART goals create dysfunction, they run the risk of being “dumb.”

    • Chad Walters says:

      Quick answer – the 500 pounds was somewhat arbitrary but I also didn’t anticipate blowing through it by ridding myself of furniture.

      Longer answer – 500 pounds, while an arbitrary number, *appeared* to be the point where I’m making a big dent in getting rid of what I don’t need or haven’t used in ages while also not turning into a full-scale fire sale. It has, year over year, been a happy medium. I have generally achieved this goal over the course of 12 months through sorting of paperwork, Goodwill donations of clothes, and odds and ends wherever. It has made me think of ways to cut back or force me to reduce silly “collections” of things that would bring more value to someone else than it does to me.

      It has generally not been accomplished early in the year, and not through the disposal of furniture. I could have distilled the goal down a little more, indicating the goal should again be achieved through truly sorting smaller stuff that has accumulated and not through simply tossing away heavy furniture.

      Because 500 pounds isn’t ordinarily an easy goal to achieve but still attainable, I set it again this year without anticipating I would be getting rid of the desk and entertainment center. I have felt like achieving the goal has made a noticeable difference in the clutter I have and my subjective level of organization is improved.

      In a business setting, a similar example would be a surprise order that would help you hit your annual revenue target far earlier in the year than you anticipated. With forecasts being updated on a more frequent basis in a business, maybe I now go back to my goal and take it to a higher level through the end of this year. I know there’s more that I can go through and eliminate, but my time crunch didn’t really give me the luxury to be as thorough as possible.

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