How to Do it All When You’re Prepping

A common complaint from new preppers–and even from some of us who’ve been at it a while–is that it’s overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you build your survival pantry? Secure your home? Learn to start a campfire? And on it goes.


You know how it is. You feel like you want to do everything, all at once, ten minutes ago. But, of course, you know that isn’t possible. And yet you worry we’ll run out of time before a looming collapse gets us all.

Not to be flip about it, but all you can do is all you can do. So do what you can, and try not to worry about what you can’t do today. And if an asteroid crashes into Earth, well, you’ve at least done something. And whether you did all you wanted won’t really matter, will it?

The challenge we face as preppers is that we have to know about so many things. We have to retool our thinking and become generalists or nexialists. (For an idea of what that means, see What is a Space Beagle? – Letter from Karl, the Survivalist.)

Recently, I gleaned a few helpful tips on branching out from Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sher. She addresses people she calls scanners. They’re the ones who are curious and passionate about a wide variety of interests. But several general principles about time management and organization provide good guidance for any of us.

Here’s one I especially like, and it can be applied to prepping.

To do it all, do it small.

This is the basis of Anna Hess’s book, The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency. She breaks large tasks into bite-sized, realistic pieces.

What if you did something different each night this week that’s related to prepping? For example, plan your garden Monday evening. On Tuesday make a chart of foods for your survival pantry which would get you buy for a month. Do a family fire drill Wednesday evening. You get the idea.

None of these has to take all evening. In fact, start by taking an hour at a time.

Let’s suppose you want to devote this coming Saturday to prepping activities. Draw out a schedule of what you’d like to do hour by hour. Don’t get bent out of shape if you’re not able to stick to it exactly. If you planfor five things and only get three done, that’s three things you didn’t have done before.

And if you don’t finish one project, schedule an hour some evening or for the following Saturday. Or if you unexpectedly find yourself with 30 minutes one evening, and you don’t know what to do next, look at what you didn’t get done on that Saturday you’d set aside.

Here’s another thought for you which will strike some as revolutionary. Do what you feel like doing. Here’s one small example of how that worked for me a few days ago.

After lunch I needed to get back to work on this site. But I didn’t feel like it. I noticed a seed catalog I’d been meaning to finish looking at. A night or two before, I started filling out a seed order, but I got interrupted by a phone call.

So I decided then and there to take an hour and finish my seed order. As it happened, an hour is all it took. In a sense, I had taken a mini-vacation. I felt a sense of accomplishment which allowed me to get back to work with renewed zeal.

Try it sometime. We need those little breaks to maintain sanity and be prepping productively.

Remember, to do it all, do it small. And just keep prepping.


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