Monday, October 4, 2021

Organization and Record Keeping

We’ve all had that moment at the grocery store when we’re trying to remember if we have an item at home or if we need to buy more. We’ve also all experienced blanking on where we stored something, especially if we put it “in a safe place” so we could easily find it later. This can be irritating in day to day life, but the consequences get much worse in an emergency situation where we simply don’t have the time find the item or the ability to get more of some supplies.

Several of our contributors have talked about misplacing a prep item or rediscovering an item thought irrevocably lost. It happens to all of us; in fact, it happened to me recently when I was trying to find a particular item in my workshop (I had just put it down two seconds ago) and during my search I wound up finding a tool I’d thought long gone. Yes, I did eventually find the item I was originally looking for, and no, it wasn't a 10mm socket.

For another example, at my house we have a variety of storage tubs in the basement for seasonal decorations, yard and garden supplies, and the like. Each tub is labeled as to its general contents, but lacks a detailed list... which is how we wound up misplacing a pair of scissors for over six months when it was accidentally put in the wrong tub. Record keeping and organizational plans are important!

Something I put together, and my wife and I update on a somewhat irregular basis, is an inventory of our baking and spice supplies. I created a Google Docs spreadsheet with multiple tabs so we can reference the lists while at the store.

A sample of the author's spice inventory

I’m planning on doing something similar for longer-term food storage, adding "purchased on [date]" and "best used by [date]" columns. If necessary (and it would probably be a good idea), I may create another list of general preps and their locations. Having these lists on Google Docs adds to accessibility, but also increases the risk of discovery if my account is hacked. This is not a big deal with spices, but it’s a major violation of Operational Security (OpSec) for things like ammunition. Thankfully, there are a variety of software and hardcopy solutions available for record keeping.

When creating a list of this type, the Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) principle should apply. What information is really needed about this particular group of items? Make sure to include all pertinent data, but don’t get too granular. It should be quick and simple to enter records. Once created, any lists should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

Of course, this is all easier said than done, but just like building up a food supply, it doesn’t need to be completed all at once. Start small and add items and lists as time permits. Once the lists have been created, maintaining them should be easier.

Keep calm and inventory on.

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