Let’s get Prepared!

I’m a person who plans.  I love making elaborate to-do lists and being inspired by new ideas.

My problem is the doing.

august calendarI tend to make long lists with idealistic goals, and by the time I’m finished with all of my planning and list-making, I’m too overwhelmed to actually do anything.  For all the benefits of planning, it doesn’t help me if I don’t take action.

Last month one of the things on my list was “change lightbulb”, and for the next several weeks I saw it and remembered that I needed to do it.  Finally Doug did it for me, and it only took a minute.

It dawned on me that most of my other plans can be accomplished that easily if I simplify my approach to planning and just get started.  This month I’m going to spend a few minutes each day taking action.  (Just a few minutes, because it is the end of summer after all.)

My focus will be preparing for everyday situations and unexpected emergencies. 

I know many of you have great plans for the month.  (And if your plan is to rest and take time off, that’s good too.)  If you don’t have any plans of your own and you want to follow along with me, I’ll put short, easy tasks on the sidebar each day.

Let’s get started!  I’m ready to get things done.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. That is SO EXACTLY me! Lots of long lists and ideas – notebooks full. It’s the doing. I am making BIG “get out of the rut” goals for August and I’m actually DOING SOMETHING everyday. It’s uncomfortable for me – but necessary.

    I make Casey change the lightbulbs too.

  2. I want to share one thing I tried in July that worked for me. I decided that I wanted to spend more time working on the little financial details in my life, whether it was calling to follow up with the dentist on a charge on my bill or taking some time to find out if I had a good interest rate on my savings account. I made a list of ‘little financial details’ and allocated 30 minutes each weekday to crossing those things off the list by taking care of them. Each week, I allocated 60 minutes to indulging in thoughts about financial opportunities, whether it was getting rid of stuff I didn’t need by selling it on ebay or thinking about all the fun stuff I could do on etsy. For me, this was the reward for paying attention to the little stuff for 30 minutes each weekday.

    Results: It worked! I’ve got an ongoing and everchanging list of stuff I want to look into/tackle/monitor. I have yet to yield profit from my financial opportunity brainstorming, but I’m sure that I’ll get there.

    I wonder if the 30 minute idea would help you focus on your goals for August. What would your reward be?

  3. What about putting a due date column in your to do list?
    I have short lists – my list are just for today. The only reason I create them is because my memory is getting so bad!

  4. I love making lists and planning too. But the execution isn’t there or isn’t always pretty. I am starting to suspect that I’m not keeping it simple. Too much not done or done badly just doesn’t cut it. But a little done well, I’ll take it.

    I’m working at paring down my lists and planning a very busy school year schedule.

  5. Goodness, I need to keep lists of my lists! I’ve finally set up a folder for each month that has a calendar, grocery list, and my one list for ‘goals’ (I cut the ‘to dos’ since they um, weren’t getting done!) I’m a bit ADHD and a doctor once told me that I needed a ‘doer’ to my ‘thinker’. I think that that may be part of what attracted me to my husband :)

    I also agree with avior…a little done well is good, although it seems like all too often I get a little bit of everything done and it’s not quite as well done as I’d like.

    And Rachel, you’re so motivating! Thank you!


  6. apieceofwood says:

    Good point, I have lots on the biger picture list, but then concentrate on 3 or 4 things at a time. I really feel I achieved when I tick off those 3/4/ things and then move onto the next 3/4 things..

  7. I recently discovered 43Things… The online version of goals. What I really like is that:

    1) They limit you to 43 things (I was upset at this at first, but it let me pare down my list, eliminate things that were similar and stay focused. I hover around 37 for the last month or so.

    2) You can write blog type posts as you achieve or make progress on the goals.

    3) Other people can make comments and cheer you on towards your goals.

    I’ve got a mix of short and long term goals on there, but it’s nice to be able to skim them over every couple of days and write an entry or two about the progress that I’ve made.

    Hope that helps someone out. And if you do end up joining, look me up using the same nick here :)

  8. I discovered your site through Get Rich Slowly…and, boy, am I glad I did! I love your site. I love the stuff you talk about, and you’re really getting me motivated!

    My boyfriend and I have decided to do a No-Spend Month in August…we’re going to try $300. Which is a LOT less than we normally spend, believe me.

    I’m also really looking forward to the posts this month about getting prepared. I’m very much like how you said you are: I’m all about the planning, but as for the doing…I’d rather plan some more. :)

    I’ll definitely be a daily visitor to your blog, and I’ll be documenting my No-Spend Month on MY blog.

    Thanks, Rachel, for the motivation!


  9. I seem to be very much like you. I make an elaborate to-do-list and maybe half of the items will get completed.

    I’ve changed my method and now have a specific notebook that outlines the days to-do-list. I don’t allow myself to put more than 5 items, 5 seemed like a good number to me. If there are more things that need to get done then just 5, I add it onto the next days page. Seems kind of like a mind trick: keep the list small and it wont look as though there is to much to do, defeating being overwhelmed.

  10. Andry Kennedy says:

    I’m a fan of http://www.flylady.net for simplifying and getting things done. For many chores and things that need to get done, she has you set a timer for 15 minutes and then do it.

    I still get bogged down in ‘list of things to do’, but I try to remember that even a little bit of action towards something is better than no action at all.

  11. acompletethought says:

    I was thinking today that the Goodwill pile in my hall simply must go. Right after I type this, I’m going to bag that stuff up and put it in the car. Next week when second son is at soccer practice, right next door to the Goodwill drop off–in it will go!

  12. These are terrific strategies! Smaller lists do seem easier to accomplish, especially when they’re just focused on that day. I have a goodwill bag that I need to drop off this week too. I’ll make sure to do it instead of letting it sit there.

  13. Good idea! Do you use a visual journal for it? I love using mine for those mundane lists.

  14. I keep a weekly “to do” list. Smaller projects, phone calls, paperwork, etc. are on my Monday – Friday lists and larger projects, or things that need my attention around the house are on my Saturday list. I use my lunch hours during the week to knock out whatever it is that’s on my list. I try to allow myself one weekend day with nothing. A girl’s gotta relax too. And Rachel, I shared with you in July that I would be cleaning out closets in preparation for back-to-school. I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to get both of the girls’ bedroom closets cleaned and have a load to go to the thrift store. Only the closet in the basement left….maybe next weekend.

  15. I heard a quote during a homeschool seminar the other day from one of Sandra Felton’s books: Clutter is a pile of unmade decisions!

    The speaker went on to say that she only put things on her to do list that she absolutely had to wait until later to do. I thought that was a great idea!

  16. Deb (aswewalk), do you mean like a home management notebook? I’m trying to build mine up too.

    I like that quote, Lauren. I guess that’s how clutter builds up when we don’t pay attention to it.

    Nancy, good for you to do both of their closets already!

  17. I tell ya, it seems like you are right in my head! My inner Girl Scout was so excited by this month’s challenge. I’m a great planner, but not so good with the follow-through, and I’ve really been trying to become more of a woman of action. No time like the present!

  18. Hey! I recently found your blog through Get Rich Slowly, and I love it! In September, I will be celebrating “National Preparedness Month” by preparing for emergencies of all kinds, everything from buying a fire extinguisher to making a will. I’ll be interested to see what you do this month to be more prepared!

  19. Ah lists. I love them. They make my world go around. Grocery lists, menu lists, to do lists, books lists, veggies to grow lists, honey-do lists, I use them all! Getting started is hard, it’s that very first step…once you get going is easy. Thanks for the inspiration and motivation.

  20. I can’t wait to check in on Small Notebook this month to see what’s next on the list to be prepared!

    I love the cash in car/wallet idea. Believe it or not, my husband does this already, and I don’t. Will fix that next time I have to get cash out :o)

  21. A friend pointed me to your blog…I LOVE IT!!! I hope you don’t mind, but I’ll be linking it fom mine. : ) Thank you for your inspirations!!! Peace…

  22. Check it out here: It’s cheap, easy, and makes things a whole lot more inspirational. http://aholyexperience.com/2008/06/visual-homemaking-journal-more.html

  23. Oh I’m sure I’ve seen this before, it really is inspiring! Thanks for sending the link.