Organizing to save your life
Hello from a changing world, friends.
The COVID-19 marketing email tsunami has died down- I want to let your inboxes breathe a bit before posting what I feel could be a critical entry.
(If it’s of interest, here is our company statement on COVID-19 that outlines what digital services we can offer during Kansas City metro’s Shelter-In-Place order.)
Life has been a mixed bag of terror, gratitude, heightened creativity and moments of emotional paralysis. However I’ve truly been savoring what minimalism author Courtney Carver calls JOMO- the joy of missing out. I’ve been delighted to trade in social obligations for long springtime walks with my dog Petri, quiet space alone to think and get projects done and connective time with my two quarantine households (Last Friday I switched from one abode to another to bunker down during the order). I am somewhat happy, but I deeply miss hands-on organizing with clients.
However the shortage of work means more time to write. Below is the longer and more fleshed out version of an article of mine that was published 2 weeks ago by IN Kansas City… It’s Time To Get Organized, Dammit!
Original title: Organizing to Save Your Life
So you’re stuck at home during an unexpected pandemic and may be looking for ways to fill the time and be productive. Why not get your space more organized? Not just for fun. There are actually life saving advantages to creating order in your house now more than ever.
Know exactly what you have. Put all your medicines and medical supplies in one place in your home. Now go through and see where the gaps are. What’s expired and needs to be replaced? (When I did this, I had plenty of ibuprofen but no acetaminophen, which is a must for this particular ailment). A non-steroid inhaler can make the difference in keeping you out of the hospital if you get sick. Do the same with your supplements- do you have enough vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc?
Don’t waste money on what you already own. Knowing what you have- knowing your things are all in one place and labelled- means you avoid spending money on what you unknowingly already own.
Conserve time. It took me less than 15 minutes to pack up everything that my dog and I needed to head to the house where we are now quarantining. When your things are in place, you have less places to look for the essentials.
Spend far less time cleaning and sanitizing. Keep counters, floors and other surfaces clear. Cleanliness is more critical than ever to your safety.
Be confident that you can survive for 2 weeks if things go south. Not to freak anybody out but for most of us, these are new and weird circumstances. Hope for the best but plan for the strange. If you can afford to, stock up on 14 days worth of high calorie, nutritious, shelf stable food that does not require refrigeration. Little meticulous me actually made a spreadsheet with all of the foods I bought, and their caloric value. Don’t forget a can opener.
… But don’t hoard. Balance your survival instincts with being a good team community member and take only what you need. Leave plenty of food and toilet paper for your fellow humans. Since most donation centers are closed, you can cut up old t-shirts as reusable tissues, rags, and even toilet paper.
Create a peaceful shelter that you can do your best in. It’s important to keep up morale while we’re all cooped up; making a living space that’s clean, organized and cheery is a huge part of this. A tidy space not only creates more room for survival supplies, it ensures more room for us to simply live.
Boost your productivity if you’re working or creating from home. An organized desk space lets you focus during business hours. A simplified craft or hobby space will bring you joy, distraction, and even perhaps a little side change.
Enjoy having less to physically and mentally manage in a stressful time. My friend who is recovering from being sick said that having her things organized gave her brain a much-needed break so that she could find things quickly and focus on recovery. Spend some time decluttering what you don’t need or use.
As you optimize your home for this unique circumstance, keep these organizing principles in mind:
- Reuse containers you already own- it’s safer than shopping for new items right now.
- Label everything you organize. This is a must if you live with others. Nobody can argue with a label- it gets everyone on the same page!
- Organize your supplies and then walk your Quaran-team through your system: “This is what I’ve done with the medicine… This is where the canned goods live now…” The point is to get everyone invested and in the know.
- Replace your old food now, then donate your expired things to a food pantry. If you’re in Kansas City metro, Shawnee Community Services is currently open, as it is considered an essential operation- they are a pantry offering free food to anybody, homeless or not, no questions asked. They do accept expired foods (within reason- nobody can safely eat tuna from a can marked 2006).
In “normal” times, getting organized allows us to be better version of ourselves; we get clarity on what’s most important. Knowing where everything is and having a system actually makes us more effective citizens, workers, artists, family members and friends. Throw in a pandemic, and it’s a skill that becomes life-saving. Personify generosity and pass along to others what you don’t need. This crisis is challenging all of us in countless ways, but it’s also an opportunity for us to grow. Start with taking stock.