February 2018 Goals – Use Everything

Every month I review how I did during my last month andΒ plan out my focus for the next month. Since I do these goal posts monthly, you might want to read them all by checking out theΒ goals category. For February, I focused on “Using Everything” – an intentional focus to think about what I have and remove possessions, services, digital files, food and websites I visit and determine which ones I use and which ones I should stop using.

Me at Adams canyon trail
Reaching the first waterfall of the Adams Canyon Trail in Utah.

In retrospect, I think this was a little bit too lofty of a goal for the month. I like the intention – the “Use Everything” theme – was a good one, but the goals were too much. That approach when consuming things was extremely useful (more on that). But in time terms of actually removing things, I didn’t get to where I’d like to be this month, so I give myself about a D for the wording/over-ambition of this month’s goal, and a C- for the execution.

This is one of the main reasons why I do these monthly. Sometimes I’ll completely fail at executing them, or determine other things in my life have priority. For February, I spent the first week traveling (our 2nd honeymoon to Southeast Asia) and the next week and a half in a combination of recovering & being sick while trying to get back to any normal routine. I try to go to the gym 3x a week usually, but February 21st was the first day of the month when I was feeling well enough this month.

February 2018 Goals

Here’s the goal I set out for myself over the last month. It has a focus on mindful consumption, organization and decluttering.

By March 1, 2018, I will have gone through all possessions, services (online and in the real world), digital files, food and websites I visit and determined which ones I use and which ones I should stop using.

In the middle of the month, I sat down and started a list in Bear (my preferred app for taking notes) and started just going through everything and doing a bit of a digital and physical audit of my life.

In the end, I had a clear todo-list of what I wanted to unclutter (sell/give away), what I wanted to use and what needed additional organization.

Bear Notes

If I had tried to make this list a year prior, it would have been much much longer. I would have instead tried decluttering a specific room, or maybe focusing on a specific type of thing. Because we’d recently slimmed down after the move, I thought I’d be able to tackle this all at once. Turns out I still need to break things up into smaller steps.

It was a helpful exercise in turning this goal into concrete steps to take. My only regret is that I did it in the middle of the month. I’d much prefer kicking the month off with an activity like that and having more time to execute on it.

Mindful Consumption (A)

The most positive takeaway was the mindful consumption part. Every time I thought about buying something, I always thought if there was anything I currently own that could instead be used to solve the same goal. From a grocery shopping standpoint, this lead to less food in the refrigerator and cupboard, and a focus on making things with whatever we have. Our grocery bill (and restaurant) bill for the month will be tiny (for us at least). Some of that will be because of the trip and eating less while sick, so I’m curious to see if this habit impacts next month as well.

Another mindful consumption example is around getting a gym bag and/or backpack. For years, I used a King Kong Jr duffel bag as my primary gym bag. I loved the bag, but it was getting a little too holy and the material was starting to disintegrate. When my wallet fell out at the gym once (leading to a minor freakout) I thought it was about time to go. I’ve been thinking about getting a more general multi-use bag. One that would allow me to leave my apartment in the morning with everything I need for work and the gym all in one. This would be far more useful than a gym-specific bag since I don’t have too much gym stuff.


For years, I’ve been eying this Peak Design Everyday Backpack for a few years, and this seemed like a good catalyst to finally get it. I currently have a massive travel backpack and a super slim sling, but not something I could really use to hold my 15″ laptop or hold more than a camera and a lens or two.

The Backpack Accommodation

Rather than getting this backpack immediately, I decided to go low-tech. I just used a Canvas shopping bag instead. I wanted to go through my entire day with what I had and just try it out. If new problems arise it, I’ll adjust and see what I can do!Β  Either way, I still like the idea that I have a very small amount of luggage/bags overall. Last year I challenged myself to get off everything that didn’t meet these criteria:

Try to fit all of your luggage and bags into your single, largest, bag.

I like the idea that a cheap new canvas bag also fits in this luggage. For any new backpack, I do decide to get, I’d expect myself to figure out what it’s replacing from this group give that away or sell it.

Organization (C+)

Since we moved into our new place, we haven’t had too much in the way of excess. Writing this, I’m sitting in our 2nd bedroom – which is our office and future guestroom. The downside is that there are boxes on the floor from the move, Christmas decorations scattered about and more framed pictures than we could hang even if we wanted to. We’ve quickly realized that we brought too much stuff from Orlando to fit into this apartment, and organization alone isn’t going to cut it. With our closets at capacity, we need to figure out what we really want to keep and remove the rest.

This month I spent too much time just moving things around rather than really addressing the core of the issue. This is something I’ve realized I do as a form of false productivity. I think I’m organizing something, but I’m not making any important decisions that would help solve the problem. Knowing I do this helps me focus on what I can do to better get to the heart of the issue.

Digital Organization

My photo oragnization

I have a lot of digital files. The digital photos taken are all very well organized into folders by year, then subfolders by the event. All of these files are backed up to Dropbox (with selective sync) and then mirrored to a Raid array here on site. The local raid is accessible through Lightroom for exploration and organization. I’m extremely happy with the system and feel secure in its redundancy.

All the recent scans, however, are still in their generated file names. Organizing these will take more time than I thought, but I’ve started chipping away at them at night while watching the Olympics. On the bright side, they are all on Dropbox and my local raid array, so now it’s just making them easily findable and searchable. Trying to find good pictures of my mom recently was painful due to how these scans were organized, but it did give me some good ideas on what I can do to start making them more easily findable.

Uncluttering (D)

I haven’t had much success in this category. I’ve posted a handful of items for sale on LetGo, but so far nothing has been sold. One or two items have been given away, but it’s not much.


Not the most productive month from a goals standpoint. I think some of the preparation and legwork I did to get organized in this topic will be useful though, and I can drop specific tasks on my weekly task list now. Even without it being a priority next month, I can still make decent progress with a plan in mind.

Did you have any goals for February? Or for this year? How are you doing on your goals so far?

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I'm , a full-stack product developer in Salt Lake City, UT. I love enlivening experiences, visualizing data, and making playful websites.

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