Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Operation Organization

If you don't know where something is, you might as well not have it.  Over the years, Sir Knight and I have replaced numerous things that we already had simply because we had no idea where the original was.  The phrase "I know that's around here somewhere" was more common than I would like to admit.  I would buy the same thing over and over again because I didn't realize we already had 10 of them (you should see how much shampoo we have!).  Finally, out of desperation, Sir Knight and I tackled our storage and organization problem and now it takes minutes to lay our hands on exactly what we need.

We began "Operation Organization" by going through our storage areas, tossing out what we didn't need and organizing the things we wanted to keep.  Unfortunately, we don't have ideal storage spaces, so things are stored where ever we happen to have room.  We tried to put like things together and we did our best to organize our food stuffs and equipment in the most logical format.

After we finished throwing away, cleaning and tidying, we began the daunting task of inventorying - EVERYTHING.  We started with our stored foods, made our way through tools, equipment, tack and household items.  We included not only the things we had stashed away in our container, but also everything in our shed, our horse trailer and our shouse.  As we wrote our inventory, we labeled each bucket, barrel and tub (things are much easier to identify when they are labeled).

When we began our inventory, we started by assigning locations in our storage areas.  In the container, this meant giving each shelving unit a location.  First, we divided the container in half, one side being W (for west) and the other side E (for east).  We then assigned each shelving unit a number, starting in the back (so we could add more locations in the future).  The shelving unit in the very back, on the west side, we named W1.  From there we named each shelf.  Beginning at the top and working our way to the bottom location.  The first shelf on the first unit had the designations of W1T (for the top shelf of the first shelving unit on the west side of the container), W11 (for the first shelf), W12 (for the second shelf), W13 (for the third shelf), W14 (for the fourth shelf) and W1G (for the ground shelf).  We continued from the back of our container to the front, labeling each shelving unit as we went.  We then turned our attention to the east side of the container and labeled it the same as the west side.  After we had labeled each side of the container, we labeled all of the items located in the center aisle.  We listed these items simply as "center location".

As we inventoried each shelf, we carefully counted each bucket, can and bag.  We listed EVERYTHING, whether it was food or a scrapbook.  We listed every tool (and its location), every piece of communication gear and every milk bucket.  Nothing was exempt from the list.

Finally, we were done cleaning, organizing and inventorying.  Next came the real work.  The List.  I started with an inventory of each shelving unit.  At the top of the page, I listed the shelf number (W1, W3, E5 and so on) and then I listed each shelf number and its contents (along with amounts of the particular item, and whether it was a bucket, a box, a can).  After I had completed a list for each shelf, that list went on a clipboard and was attached to the shelf (I also kept a complete list in the house for reference).

Once I had complied a list for each individual shelf (or location), I created a "Master List".  This list took a couple of days to put together because I alphabetized EVERY item from EVERY list.  Once I had everything alphabetized, I compiled the master list.  This list has everything (food, tools, gear) listed in alphabetical order along with their location.  This is the list I turn to when we need to find something, whether it is a plumbing part, a baby gift or some Turbinado sugar.  If I send the kids out to get something out of the food stores, I tell them what I need and then give them the location - "It's on E43".  Talk about a timesaver!

There is more to preparedness than just acquiring stuff.  You've got to know what you have, how much you have and where to find what you have.  "Operation Organization" was our answer to managing preparedness supplies.  Your system may look different, but I encourage you to have your own "Operation Organization".


  1. I love organization! It's hard though to come up with the right way to do it that works for YOU and you family. Great job on your method!

  2. Having worked in the warehouses of several companies, I would like to say that you and Sir Knight hit a home run. This is how many of them had everything listed. It does make everything easier to find.

  3. Congrats on completing such a huge project. I'm in awe that you and your husband worked together on it. I wish I could involve my husband more at home.

  4. good organization is a must for being well prepared...now the only thing you need to do is find a safe and secure place to stash your "list" and "master list"...and for sure dont put it where a "golden horde" might make use of it.

  5. Being a one man operation, I know where everything is. Maybe I should locate everything in one room instead of being kinda scattered throughout the house.

    I gotta say, you married people that have partners that are into the same stuff, (food storage, supplies etc) You got it made.

  6. This is a very timely topic. I've been taking an inventory of my food and gear this week. It's a daunting task at times.

    NoCal Gal

  7. organization or management is very important in every work that you do. without management you can not complete the whole work at a specified time, so that organized life will provide you better way to live the life.

  8. Congrats on completing a very daunting project!

    My only suggestion would have been to use Excel (or some spreadsheet) to make the list(s), putting the location, shelf, item, and quantity in separate columns. Perhaps even add in expiration dates in a fifth column, but perhaps that is beyond the scope of this project. Once completed, you can sort, format, and print out very nice lists and then simply re-sort the same list for the master list.

    It's OK. I've been doing this for 20 years and have gone down many dead-end pathways! I actually use Excel as a very handy text-processing tool and very rarely use it for numbers.

    -- Bowser

  9. what i have found sadder then the fences is that usually there is an old abandoned house not far from the fence..and fields that have been abandoned as well. the owners defaullt, or they die, or whatever, and these places are just left to fall apart and rot from neglect etc..it is one of the saddest things that i see on my drives throughout the country and such a waste.

  10. I would love to see a picture of the shelves themselves as I am having a hard time seeing it in my mind. I appreciate your blog. You have such good insights. Thanks!!