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Emergency Lifehacks: Plan Ahead

Emergency Lifehacks: Plan Ahead

    What would you do if you lost power for a day? What about a nasty storm knocking out transport to your area for a week? What if you had to evacuate your home because of a wild fire?

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    A little emergency preparedness can go a long way. Spending an hour or two today, along with a few dollars, can make sure that you have less to worry about in the event of an emergency. And if you’re worrying about a bad storm or a wild fire, I think that any peace of mind that being prepared can bring you is worth the effort. You don’t need to spend a lot of time worry about emergency preparedness, but making it a part of your plans makes sense. Heck, you back up your hard drive on a regular basis, right? That’s basic emergency preparedness right there!

    Planning An Evacuation Bag

    I’ve read about people keeping a go bag for every occasion — from wilderness rescue to a bird flu pandemic It’s up to you how far you want to go, but I’ve focused on stocking a bag that will get me through some basic emergencies. I’m working on the assumption that, after a point, I’ll have access to my (or someone else’s), tool shed, pantry and other stuff and can work with those items when I run out. No sense hauling around more than a first aid kit when you can stock a good number of emergency medical supplies at home.

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    So what do I think is important in an evacuation bag?

    • A basic first aid kit
    • A map
    • A flashlight with spare batteries
    • A blanket
    • At least one change of clothing, with extra underwear and socks
    • Soap and a few other basic hygiene supplies.
    • A coat
    • Medication — a supply of both prescription and over the counter drugs
    • A recent back up of important computer files
    • Copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards
    • An inventory (for insurance purposes)
    • A list of important phone numbers
    • Snacks
    • A deck of cards or other entertainment

    Since I’m self-employed, that recent back up of my computer files is especially important. If I had to leave my files behind me, it could be very difficult for me to rebuild my business later on. I know that I can’t lug my filing cabinet along on an evacuation, but I can take a USB drive or a DVD. I’ve also added family photos and other important files to my backup. If you have something that you can’t bear to leave behind, add it to your evacuation list — you may need to make a list of things to pick up on your way out the door, and keep it with your bag.

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    Home Preparations

    There are any number of emergencies that could keep you stuck in your home or in your immediate area. The most important step you can take towards preparedness is stocking your pantry — even keeping a little extra food in the house can make the difference between having to go out in a blizzard or being able to wait it out.

    The expert opinions on what to stock at home vary widely. Recommendations to have 1 gallon of water on hand per person are pretty consistent. But beyond that, there are a variety of options. Depending on where you live and your circumstances, some recommendations include stocking up a year’s worth of food. If that’s your inclination, this calculator is a good start. It does assume, however, that you have a good working knowledge of your own kitchen.

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    Storing a year’s worth of food is outside of the realm of the possible for some of us — I don’t know where I could put 750 pounds of flour in my apartment, let alone other foods. I generally try to have about two weeks worth of extra food on hand at any given time. I try to add a few more canned items to my pantry, along with other non-perishables each time I go grocery shopping. As to what to store, I recommend sticking as close to your usual diet as possible. Stocking up on canned beets doesn’t make sense for those of us who hate beats.

    Beyond food, having a more extensive first aid kit on hand is worthwhile. I recommend thinking big: go beyond the roll of medical tape and the gauze pads. I’m slowly adding items as my budget allows, but my goal is to be able to keep going through at least minor medical emergencies. That means that I want a couple of cans of chicken broth, rubber gloves and a splint all on hand. Deciding what should be in your home’s kit can depend on who you life with, where you live and what Nature is likely to throw at your state. Good starting points include Jim McDonald’s jump kit guide, MSNBC’s home flu kit and Ready America’s first aid kit. If you can get even some basic medical training (many employers will pay for employees to get CPR training, and there are a number of free classes available at community centers), it’s worthwhile. There are also a couple of good books worth picking up: the Merck Manual and Where There is No Doctor are both good options.

    Emergency Preparedness in Everyday Life

    Once you’ve started making some plans for emergencies, it’s worth making them a part of your regular routine. If you’ve laid in some canned food or bottled water, make a point to make it a part of your meal plans so that you keep replacing it with new. Putting a reminder to go over your plans or check your supplies on your calendar is a great idea. For some people, once a year is plenty. For others, a go bag might need to be updated a bit more often. I’ve read about families who put together evacuation bags just in case, and then just put them in a closet for a few years. When they next checked on them, their children had outgrown the packed clothing by several sizes.

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    Last Updated on October 15, 2019

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why we procrastinate after all

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    So, is procrastination bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How bad procrastination can be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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    8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

    Procrastination, a technical failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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