I live with very few things, 137 in fact. They all fit in hand luggage and I carry them with me. I have done this now for over six years and in that time I have become very aware of the total weight of my stuff because, well… sometimes my shoulders hurt.
In addition to being a minimalist I’m also a bit of a geek and one of the tools I developed about five years ago was a spreadsheet of my things with some interesting metadata:
Once I had the list, I could do some cool analysis on the data in true geek-out fashion. Frankly I do this mostly for fun but it is also kinda useful.
I categorise my 137 things according to 21 categories which broadly fall in to four groupings:
- Luggage (Category 1)
- Clothing (Categories 2 – 12; Shoes, Boxers, Socks, Tees, Tops, Pants etc)
- Gear (Categories 13-17; Misc Gear, Packing, Carry, OSK and Dopp)
- Tech (Categories 18-21; Laptop, Techbag, MiscTech and EDC; Every Day Carry)
This allows me to do some cool analysis:
This was the start of my journey in to data analysis; where can I drop the excess weight? Certainly some interesting metrics here, the heaviest thing I own, it transpires, is not my laptop, or my Dr Martens… but the wheeled case I use to lug it all, in fact my luggage accounts for nearly a quarter of my carried weight (in red).
I feel this is currently justified as I am not simply backpacking my way around the world – I still have to work so need to carry a suit and an umbrella and the trappings of the office environment. I also need to look semi professional, so the roller does it for me. Nice to know that if I was able to quit my job and disappear off around the world I could pack everything in a backpack and travel even lighter.
The blues in the above pie charts represent the various categories of clothing – interesting to note that clothing represents less than half of my carried weight, just 7.08Kg. Of course carried weight does not include the clothing I travel in.
How much have you spent on your stuff? If you lost it, do you know how much it would cost to replace? If you only have 137 things it turns out it’s pretty easy to calculate, and pretty reassuring to know how much I’d need to claim on my insurance should the worst happen.
By recording the amount I paid for each item, the vendor and the date I purchased it I stand a good chance of replacing like for like in the event of disaster or, more likely, re-ordering when something fails (I am not a keen shopper). It’s also reassuring to note that my most expensive items are also my most oft-used belongings; laptop and phone. Spending done right.
By recording an estimated ‘lifespan’ of each item I can also calculate each item’s current worth – given my recent tech spending it’s not a huge surprise to see so much green. Taking this one step further I can actually calculate the daily depreciation of my belongings. Apparently each sleep costs me £6.60… which is cheaper than an AirBnB.
Yeah OK… with 137 things how important is asset management? Moreover who the hell does asset management on their belongings?
Turns out I do.
Recording the date of purchase and the estimated lifespan enables me to monitor the ‘life remaining’ of the items I own. This enables me to predict failure (basic FMECA right here) and plan financially since many of the items I own, notably the merino clothing, is not so cheap to replace.
My most recent purchases include my newly replaced Icebreaker Anatomica Boxers and my new laptop (more on that in my 2018 Gear post), associated tech (it’s a USB-C powered machine which, of course, necessitated some new USB-C gadgets). It would appear that my tees are nearing end of life (which is true – two of them have holes now) and my Extras (tie and belt) are on their way too.
I refine the ‘lifespan’ fairly regularly – boxers only last a year but tees last three, the lifespan for my belt is an estimated twenty years which is probably OK since I bought it in Hawaii in 2000. Moreover I probably don’t need to worry about replacing much else just yet… which is nice.
Also; my motto of monochrome simplicity does not apply to my Excel spreadsheets (or my Powerpoint presentations for that matter).