The 5 P’s is something a ex-Marine told me years ago that still resounds with me. He said his commanding officer had drilled it into them – “Proper Planning Prevents Piss-poor Performance”. In the same vein, it is just a different expression of the Boy Scout motto of “Always Be Prepared.” While this is true in disaster preparedness as we discuss here, it can also apply to your daily life. Applying these ideas daily will help you to be in a better position to limit stress. Living with less stress will make you stronger and healthier to deal with large life events.
On a daily basis I honestly struggle with organization. Things just get out of hand and then you can’t find your shoes the next morning. This in itself wastes time and causes undue stress. Compound this over weeks and years and all the little things build up. This can lead to a constant state of stress dealing with even the most basic things. This impacts you both physically and mentally.
Some things you can do to combat this apply to both daily life and disaster preparedness. Some of these may sound cliche, but they work.
Everything has a place – Ever run late looking for your keys? Not if you designate a place for them and habitually put them there. Having organized locations for everything is not OCD. It is a manner to remove one more variable that can cause stress from poor performance. The same goes for your emergency supplies and bag. Having things organized saves precious time when you may only have minutes to evacuate from a disaster situation. A handy thing to have is a label printer. With it you can label shelves to organize where items belong. This works anywhere you can stick a sticker.
Another option are erasable labels such as these dry erase ones. Then you can adjust them whenever needed.
Plan Ahead – Anything from laying out tomorrow clothes beforehand to a complete color coded family weekly schedule can fall under this. Depending on your situation, it may be more complex that other people’s. Planning out your day, week, and month can avoid conflicts, delays, and , again, stress. Planning will allow you to consolidate things such as having appointments that are in the same location on the same day if possible. This will avoid multiple trips and additional time away form home or work. Planning well in advance can also help you save money as in the case of booking a vacation. Earlier booking can let you find better deals on accommodations or transportation, pre-order tickets to attractions or events, and avoid forgetting items you must replace while away. With all of this done you can actually be relaxing instead of planning each day while there. Planning out your emergency strategy can help you to have everyone one up to date on what to do in particular circumstances. This again saves time you need to evacuate or enact the plan to hunker down. Organizing the rotation plan of perishable items such as canned foods you are storing can help you to avoid wasting items and money due to expiration. A good way to keep up with this rotation is an inventory log. It can help you know what you have to avoid over buying or forgetting something.
You can also use color coded stickers to assist in keeping up with the rotation.
Know your limits – Everyone must face that they are not an expert at everything. Also, based on age, lifestyle, or illnesses, physically you may not be able to do certain things. Admitting these ahead of time will allow you to find ways to adapt to these parameters. If the limiting factor is skills you do not have, you can study or train to build those. For instance, your financial situation may keep you from upgrading your car that is giving you mechanical issues. In this case, studying how to do some of the repairs yourself can improve the car’s reliability at a much lower cost. This more reliable transportation then relieves stress on you and your finances. Similarly, studying and practicing skills like fire building and water purification can help you to better mitigate issues in a crisis. In the case of physical limitation, you can find ways to accommodate or alleviate them. If you suffer from arthritis that causes you to have less strength in your hands, simply buying pop top style canned goods versus screw off lids can help the issue. When emergency planning, you may also do something like including a cart to transport your supplies if you must evacuate on foot. You may do this because you know that the weight you need to carry exceeds your personal limit for the necessary time period.
Practice – You often hear people in different sports talk about muscle memory. Basically it means that you repeat a task or motion enough that you can repeat it without thought. Some examples include shooting a basketball, firing a gun, and riding a bike. You can apply this to help out in your daily life. Repetition of tasks such as chopping vegetables will lead to you having consistency and speed. This can make preparing dinner a less stressful task. The same can be said for emergency plans. Maybe you want to improve your skill with a firearm because you want to protect your family during a crisis. Then practice loading the gun, firing the gun from different stances, and resolving malfunctions. Again, this will improve speed and consistency because you do not have to think about it, you just do it.
These are just a few examples of strategies you can use in both daily life and disaster preparedness to limit stress and be more prepared for whatever may come. If you have any personal tips that you think might benefit others, please share them in the comments.