What are you holding on to even though you know you should let it go?
I think everyone has something like this. Maybe it’s a collection of something you’ve had for a long time or something that belonged to someone you miss. Maybe it’s an old shirt that’s falling apart but you keep it anyway? Equipment for a hobby or sport you haven’t participated in for several years?
For me, it’s all my stuff from my time in the Army.
I still have everything:
I deployed to Iraq 12 years ago and left the Army Reserve 10 years ago. You would think I could have gotten rid of some of this stuff by now. The BDUs have been used as Halloween costumes a few times and I chose the most tattered set as painting clothes. I do wear the boots but really don’t need 4 pairs.
For some reason, I just can’t seem to get myself to get rid of these things even though I can list all sorts of reasons I should. I’m not getting back in the Army and they probably wouldn’t take me at my age anyway. Most of the uniforms I have are not in service anymore. I don’t even hunt or play paintball. Most of this sits around collecting dust and filling up closet space.
Why then, do I hold on to it all?
I did contact a friend from the Army who opened an Army surplus store after returning home from Iraq. Check out Battle Boy Surplus if you need anything and support a Veteran-owned small business. He offered to take some of it and asked me to send him some pictures. Even for him, I still can’t get myself to gather it all up.
I guess the real reason is that I still look back on my time in the Army as one of the best parts of my life. Being away from home for a year sucked but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I often wish I would have stayed in but I didn’t want to deploy again. I was so busy with grad school and my family that I couldn’t do everything to the level that I felt I should have. I couldn’t be a good student, good officer, good husband, and good dad all at the same time.
As long as I see those uniforms hanging in my closet every day and I can wear my old combat boots, I can still pretend that the Army is part of my life. Every time I look at them, I think of those I served with and especially those that didn’t come home. I know it is crazy to hold on to all of it though so I will start getting rid of some things.
Where to start though?
There are a few recommended strategies for getting rid of sentimental items. First, I need to gather it ALL together in one spot. For anything, just looking at the sheer volume will help you realize how much you have and therefore make it easier to eliminate some of it. Next, take pictures. I have a few pictures of me in uniform, but I could take a few pictures of me in each type of uniform. Then, get rid of the uniforms.
The challenging part will be the trunk full of newspapers, magazines, and pictures that friends and relatives sent me while I was deployed. I know that if I don’t do something with it, the paper will just decay in my basement. I need to start going through it and scanning anything I want to keep. It’s likely I won’t even remember why I kept a lot it.
It won’t be easy but as I’ve said before, I need to fully purge my own stuff before I hound my family to get rid of their own things. I’ll keep you posted of my progress and let you know what other tips I come up with along the way. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for updates and feel free to share some of your own suggestions for how you let go of sentimental items. Thanks.
Just a quick note to say thank you to all my fellow veterans.
A couple of days ago I was out stretching my legs with a couple of coworkers. It was cold outside so we walked from one end of the office building to the other and as we passed the main entrance on our way back, I noticed an elderly gentleman slowly walking into the lobby with a cane. Then I saw his hat that read "World War II Veteran".
I don't generally do this, but something told me to walk up to him and say hi. Maybe it was because Veterans Day was just a couple of days away or maybe it was because he reminded me of the two WW II veterans we lost recently in our church, but without hesitating I walked up to him and said in a loud voice "Happy Veterans Day!"
I noticed his shiny E-6 rank on the brim of his hat as he looked up at me and said "What?" I had to say it again and reminded him that it was just a couple days away. Then I thanked him for his service and he smiled. There are fewer WW II vets left every day. We need to honor them and learn from them before they are all gone.
While Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day and commemorated World War I, it continues to be (from VA.gov) "A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good".
Welcome to Part 2 of my decluttering operations order. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. Below is what I’ve written up for my son’s bedroom. In the Army, we would not only deliver this as a briefing but an operation could involve rehearsals and a demonstration using what’s called a sand-table or terrain model kit.
I need to execute this soon because his room is a disaster and seems to just be getting worse. To be fair, he did try to clean it up a little recently and we were able to see more of the floor than we’ve seen in a while.
I’m asking for feedback before I do this so feel free to make comments below or send me an email if you have a suggestion for something I missed.
Situation: Your bedroom is a complete shambles. It’s impossible to walk from the door to the other side of the room without stepping on something. The floor is covered in Legos, sheet music, Nerf darts and lots of dust. There are clothes on the floor and the desk because there’s no room in the closet. The closet is full because there are clothes that no longer fit and/or you don’t like to wear.
Mission: Together we (who) will clean up and remove excess items from (what) your bedroom (where) so that the floor is clear making it easy to clean and it will be a place where you can practice your music without distraction while being safe from tripping on objects (why).
Execution: This operation will be executed in several phases:
Service & Support: To keep this simple, we’ll just list the items that we’ll have on hand:
Command & Signal: As always, mom is in charge of everything. She will have the final say on pretty much everything, especially the disposition of all clothes. I will be the one helping with the room to keep things on track.
Safety: Believe it or not, safety is one of the prime reasons to clean up this room. There are multiple reasons for that. First, my son has allergies. With a messy room things get dusty and it’s very difficult to clean. Second, even without being in a rush, it can be a life-risking undertaking to walk through the room. Never mind what could happen if there was an emergency and you had to run out of the room. You could easily trip on something and knock yourself out on the desk.
So that’s pretty much it. I’ll try it out and then report back on how it goes. I’ll also refine it based on any feedback received and post the updated version. Thanks for reading.
In the Army, we have a format for mission planning called an Operation Order, or op-order for short. When I was learning to be an officer, it was called the Five Paragraph Operation Order, even after the Army added a sixth paragraph for safety.
Since my mission is decluttering, I decided to make a basic op-order for the process. In this post, I’ll describe an op-order and then put a rough one together using my son’s room as an example. Later, I’ll put it to the test and let you know how it goes.
Here are the main parts of an op-order with a short description of each. The full Army version has many sub-bullets for each. See the link above for more details.
A Note on the Execution Paragraph
In the Army, we used a method called backwards planning to develop a timeline in the execution section. Backwards Planning is just a cool sounding term for something that most of us do every day when we figure out what time we need to get out of bed in the morning so that we get to work on time. I always thought it was ridiculous how much time we spent learning and practicing this process because it seemed so obvious to me. Unfortunately, I’m often surprised to find how many people just do not get the concept.
Backwards planning starts with a specific time that you need to be somewhere or do something. Then you work backwards from there taking into account what activities need to happen before that critical time and how long each of them takes. Some tasks can be done in parallel and some cannot. It’s that simple.
For example, you need to be at work by 8 am. OK. The last thing you do before leaving might be to pack your bag and grab your coat, etc. That takes about 5 minutes. Breakfast takes 15 minutes. 20 minutes for a shower. At least 10 minutes to pack lunch. Don’t forget the fact that you like to snooze the alarm for 10 minutes every morning and that it takes an average of 30 minutes just to get to work. Add all that up and it looks like you need to get up about 6:30 am.
I didn’t want to make this too long so I’ll save the actual op-order for later but I think that in general the Army is on to something when it comes to planning out how to accomplish a large task and share that vision with others with the operations order. I’ll let you know how it goes as soon as I can test this out and I’ll post my written op-order. I’m coming up on my one year anniversary since my first blog post so that might be a good topic to celebrate with.
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Wishing everyone a fun and safe Independence Day!
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Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2020
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