How I Use Lists to be Better Prepared and More Organized

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Do you have tons of preps but end up buying replacements of items you KNOW you have but just can’t lay hands on? Do you have everything you need for specific types of emergencies? How’s your emergency binder looking? And what about that prep closet (or room, or cabinet) – do you even know what’s in it?

Getting organized as a prepper is almost as important as having the preps themselves. You know the saying, if you can’t protect it, you don’t own it? Well, if you can’t find it when you need it, you might as well not own it.

This is why I swear by lists. I know, I know. A lot of experts in the survival industry will tell you that you can’t survive by list alone. And I agree. Just having a checklist and fulfilling it doesn’t mean that I have the skills to use the items I bought or even whether those specific items will be useful in my setting. Lists are definitely not the be-all and end-all of preparedness.

However, if you’re not using them, you are overlooking a vital tool. Lists are the secret weapon of the most organized preppers.

Here’s how I use lists to be better prepared.

I use lists religiously to stay prepared and well-organized. If my preps are set up in a way that I can quickly find what I need in an emergency, I’m able to breeze past the “finding that thing” part of my plan and enact the next step. This makes me better able to handle just about anything life throws at me.

As a creative person, I’m prone to chaos. I can easily drift into disarray which can then rapidly descend into pandemonium. Lists help a lot with this. Here are a few reasons why:

  • I can note where specific things are kept in my general list, making them quick and easy to locate when I need them.
  • It helps me to keep like items with like items.
  • It helps me to quickly see what I’m missing for an expected situation, rather than needing to pull everything out and do an inventory.
  • It helps me budget my efforts. I can look at my lists and see where I may be falling short. Then I can focus my preparedness energy and money there.

Since I’ve become better about using lists, I’ve had many fewer experiences of buying the same whatchamacallit repeatedly because I can’t locate the whatchamacallits I already have.

What kind of lists should you have?

Like all things preparedness, you should have lists that relate specifically to you and your family. If you don’t live in tornado country, you probably don’t need to stock a storm cellar. Likewise, if you’re far from the sea, preparing for a hurricane doesn’t make sense. The same thing goes for other regional likelihoods, such as earthquakes and wildfires.

In general, here are some examples of lists you should have.

  • General supply lists for a wide range of emergencies – the basics (and be sure to note the locations of your supplies)
  • Food checklists
  • Medical supply lists
  • Lists for specific emergencies like hunkering down, nuclear disasters, vehicle emergency kits, or civil unrest
  • Localized lists for emergencies that are common to your region
  • Action checklists to prep for evacuations, home inventory, pantry inventory, and prepper skills
  • Personal information packets for each family member with health info, important documents, legal documents, important phone numbers, accounts, and property deeds.

Particularly with personal information, you’ll want to be very careful about how you store it or you could run the risk of it being used for identity theft and fraud. I keep mine encrypted and password protected on a USB and also in hard copy in a fireproof safe.

Where to find the lists

You can find lists for preparedness all over the internet. We have dozens on this website alone that are free for the taking. Just use the search bar on the right-hand side of this page to look up different types of emergencies or preparations you may be wanting to focus on.

As well, I have a product that you might also like. It’s called The Prepper’s Interactive Book of Lists.

It’s jam-packed with more than 40 lists to help you get organized and ready for anything. It’s interactive, so you can open it up and type in all your information, check off your boxes, and use the book however you need to. 

Use this book as a shopping list, a checklist, and an organizational tool. You can print it all out or only the pages you need. You can store it on your computer, on a USB, or in the cloud so you can access it anywhere, any time. (Wherever you store this deeply personal information, please encrypt it or protect it with a password.)

If you prefer old school, don’t despair with all this high tech stuff! Print it out and put it in a looseleaf binder. (It’s designed with space for the binder clip holes.)

Here are the lists contained within:

Part 1: General Supply Lists

  • 1-Week of No-Cook Food List
  • 2-Week Food List
  • Prepper Food List
  • 2-Week Power Outage Checklist
  • Special Needs and Comfort Items List
  • Pet Prepping Checklist
  • Sanitation Checklist
  • How to Make a Kitty Litter Toilet
  • Non-Food Stockpile Checklist
  • Last Minute Shopper’s Checklist

Part 2: Medical Supply Lists

  • OTC Med Checklist
  • First Aid Checklist (Traumatic Injuries)
  • Health History for Each Family Member
  • Veterinary Supply List

Part 3: Checklists for Specific Emergencies

  • Sheltering in Place After a Nuclear Strike Checklists
  • How to Use Potassium Iodide After a Nuclear Emergency
  • Pre-Disaster Home Readiness Checklist
  • Post-Disaster Home Safety Checklist
  • Pandemic Illness Supply List
  • Pandemic Isolation Area Checklist
  • Vehicle Emergency Checklist
  • Winter Warm-up Checklist
  • Civil Unrest Checklist
  • Civil Unrest Lockdown Plan

Part 4: Action Checklists 

  • Home Inventory Checklist
  • Evacuation Checklist
  • Get-home Plan
  • How to do a Pantry Inventory
  • Food Safety Checklist
  • Activities for Kids During a Power Outage
  • Prepper Skills Checklist
  • 101 Small Ways to Prep

Part 5: Personal Emergency Preparedness Binder

  • Adult Personal information
  • Child Personal information
  • Pet information
  • Financial information
  • Homeowner’s or rental information
  • Automotive Information
  • Legal information
  • Important phone numbers
  • Emergency Contacts

This is the most comprehensive book of its kind that you’ll find!

This weekend only, I’m offering it for half price, for just $12.50! Use it to check that your preps are in order, to see what you need to get, and to get yourself organized and ready for an uncertain future.

The proceeds from your purchase will go to help us upgrade our server. (You may have noticed that the site has been down several times recently.) We greatly appreciate your support! Your purchase is a win for everybody!

Go here to grab your Interactive Book of Lists!

Are you a list person?

Do you use lists to help yourself be better prepped and organized? How have lists helped you in your preparedness endeavors? Are there any checklists you’d add to the recommended ones above? Let’s discuss lists in the comments section.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • If you like lists, you might want to check out the book “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” by Atul Gawande. If you don’t like lists, then that’s all the more reason to read the book. 🙂 If it weren’t for checklists, my entire life would be at least in the “pandemonium” stage and probably beyond that.

    Like most of you I keep a “todo” list, but one thing I’ve found useful is to also keep a “done” list. As you complete an item — or even do something useful or necessary that popped up without ever being on the official todo list — move it to the “done” list. At the end of the day add the next day’s date. This serves two purposes: (1) it can reassure you that the day wasn’t really wasted no matter how much it feels like it, because you have written evidence that you actually did accomplish something (even if it wasn’t what you planned to accomplish), and (2) it can serve as a useful reference when you’re asking yourself “Did I ever do X? When did I do Y?”

    For example, did I really get anything done in the last 17 years? Well, according to my “done” list, yes — and the file on my computer has over 63,000 lines of text to prove it! That’s only about 11 lines of typing per day, but it adds up.

  • Dear Daisy,
    As a maintenance engineer for over 15 years I need to keep a brief list based on the maintenance manual(or users manual), or even a digital copy of the workshop manual of my old cars and my motorcycle. The last one is much more accurate and complete, with tons of details.

  • In addition to the “Done” list I might suggest another list as well — one for defining both current and future problems (some of which might already have a history) for which you haven’t been able to devise a solution nor has anyone else you’ve contacted. Some examples might include:

    1. Relatives breaking into your house to discard some things, steal others, warehouse some items (without making an inventory), and rearranging your lifetime of accumulated stuff so you can’t find things without knowing the which and where your housefull of items have vanished. Years ago I posted this disaster (on TOP without getting a reply) that happened to friends of mine (who didn’t know each other) as well as to me — all during extended hospital stays. In one of those cases, some things I loaned to one of those friends vanished when relatives invaded her house.

    2. Another seemingly insolvable problem is the hospital system (including the VA) that is captive to the century+ old medical mafia where institutions that might prefer to use highly successful medical methods and remedies (that Big Pharma has demonized for decades in the US) and that are routinely used with great results in other countries where the captive US FDA has zero jurisdiction). As long as government and Big Pharma can threaten and destroy a medical practitioner’s license and livelihood … the ancient medical oath (that contains this mandate to “First, do no harm”) of Hippocrates remains dead inside the US as long as hospitals poorly conceal a more accurate label for them of Murder, Inc.

    3. A third threat with no easy answer is the globalist threat (which Dementia Biden is following orders to implement) to replace all existing US dollars with constitutional rights destroying digital money that lets centralized authority control what you can buy or sell, can tax you electronically in an instant, can control where you are allowed to travel, can require to you accept government-dictated medical mandates, and can instantly counterfeit to steal the purchasing power of whatever money wealth you might have or will ever accumulate … for the benefit of whatever oligarch buddies of the counterfeiting Fed might get first access to newly invented money … before prices ripple skyward even more. With some 90% of central banks around the planet exploring how to go all-digital, it is unclear if there might be any sensible place (and/or methodology) of refuge from this mega-greedy institutional tyrant system. Such greed has a thousands of years old tradition of destroying every fiat money in history eventually.

    Would you label such a list as the list of current & future problems for which any solutions are either uncertain or flat-out non-existent? Or would a shorter label like “Unsolved problems” suffice?


  • Great post Daisy.
    “Getting organized as a prepper is almost as important as having the preps themselves”. truer words were never spoken!
    having preps and not being to find them when you need them is like not having them in the first place. i have been a victim of that many times over the years.
    list’s for food and supplies. every 6 months we go through everything and reorganize and restock, and rotate out as necessary, the end of garden season with all that we can is a big reorganization for us.
    i have many lists, but i need a list to remind me of where i have put the lists : )

  • I made an “Emergency Supplies List”. Over the years I have purchased different options for emergencies. I found when a disaster strikes and your brain gets stressed, that you forget all the options and where they are located. So now I can pull out the list and see what I have for: lighting, communication, protection, water purification, air purification, heating, cooling, power, fuel, sanitation, cooking, shelter, and transportation. This list will also be helpful for other family members if I am not available. I also made a list like Daisy of easy foods to eat in the first week. Of course there should be a list of stored foods – short term and long term, purchase date, and location. Include a target amount you want to store. This makes it easy to inventory and fill in gaps. I have found Excel spreadsheets works well for inventories.

    I update the short term food inventory every 6 months and the long term whenever I buy something in that category like food in gallon cans or buckets. My short term food inventory comprises of a list of foods I want to keep on hand (like jello, brown sugar, brownie mix, ketchup, mayonnaise, canned foods, etc. ) but in smaller quantities that are rotated well and a grid inventory of where things are located in my storage room. By inventorying every 6 months I can see what I have and what I need to purchase. Everyone will have their own idea of how much needs to be kept on hand.

    The short term inventory includes a freezer inventory for each shelf. This is invaluable when trying to find things and keep them rotated especially if you have several freezers.

  • My lists are saved on the computer but also printed out. Our bug out bags and car bags all have a list of what is in each bag right in the bag. Every January 1 we look at the bags/lists to determine if we need to switch out items (depending on the season and, of course, some food items). We don’t need to empty the bags to take inventory since we have the lists which state which pocket/zipper area the items are in. We also have 3 large tool boxes in the house for medical supplies. One for first aid, one for external meds, and the third for internal medical supplies. Each have a list along and include expiration dates. I have also shared my lists with trusted new preppers to help them gather what they may need. When I was working (now retired) I kept a bag in my office incase I was unable to get to my car. Of course, that bag also had a list. We have a bug out list taped to the inside of our closet door by our back door. This list outlines what my husband grabs and what I am responsible for. No panic if we have to leave quickly. I also have a list of what is in each freezer and our stored food. As you can tell…lists are important to me.

  • I’m a compulsive (nearly) list maker. I’ve been keeping them for forty years. Only recently have I digitized them. They’re on my phone and backed up to my PC weekly. I don’t trust “the cloud” as many of those servers are in China. Even Amazon’s.

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