Even when we have a specific goal / destination in mind, sometimes we can just “row our boat in circles” as it were if we don’t have steps to reach that goal / destination.  The order in which we take those steps is important too.  Doing things in the wrong order can be a waste of time.  We need to do the most important things first.

Even if you know what you need to be prepared for, it can be tough to know where to start. These 3 lists will help you prioritize your preparedness goals

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Where to Start?

Hopefully by now, you know what you should be preparing for.  You should have a list of 3-6 “disasters” that are most important for your family to be prepared to handle.  If you haven’t done that yet, go back to week #1 and use the worksheet and three simple steps I gave you to figure it out.

Now that you know what your goal is, you need to figure out where to start  What do you need to do, learn and buy in order to reach that goal?


Three Lists

Make three lists! (I guess I like the number three!)

These are very common sense lists to make.  In fact, these are the same three lists that Angela from Food Storage and Survival is encouraging her readers to make this month.  She is nicer than I am though.  She is giving her readers a full month, while you only get a week!  She has some great tips about prioritizing in that post as well as in this post:  Four Questions to Ask to Prioritize Emergency Preparedness Goals.  I encourage you to check them out!

Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom, also includes these same three lists right at the beginning of her book, Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disaster and Worst-Case Scenarios.

These three lists are simple, but important:

1.  To Do

2.  To Learn

3.  To Buy


Now, you might think….“but I’m just starting out!  I don’t know what to put on those lists!”  There is no need to stress!  These are fluid lists.  They can, and should change over time as you learn more.  This first time creating these lists should just be a major brainstorming session.  Simply write down everything you think you might need to do to get ready for those 3-6 disasters on your list.  Involve your spouse and teenage children if they are willing. 



Still stressing?  Calm down!  I’ve got some tips to help you out:

  1. No idea is too big or unrealistic or too small or insignificant.  Add them all.  That is what brainstorming is all about.  You will prioritize later.
  2. If some of your ideas are pretty long range, break them down in to smaller steps.
  3. No matter the disaster, there are really only two scenarios you need to worry about: evacuating or staying put.  Would you be more likely to evacuate or stay put following / during your 3-6 disasters?  That will affect what you put on your lists.
  4. Think of each of the following categories as you add to each list
    • Water
    • Food (including how to cook it)
    • First Aid
    • Finances
    • Sanitation
    • Safety and Security


To Do:

This list should be full of the things you can do to help reach your goals.  Most of these should cost no (or very little) money.  What do you want to get DONE before your 3-6 disaster happen?  Tasks like organizing all your important documents or taking an inventory of the food you have, or securing the water heater to the wall should be on this list.


To Learn:

Oh, this list can get quite long, but the things on this list can be powerful!  Include both skills and knowledge that would help you and your family in your 3-6 disaster situations.  Things like learning how to cook with food storage or learning how to knit or how to use a sun oven should be on this list.


To Buy:

Remember, you will prioritize in just a minute!  For now, just have fun and create a wish list!  What items will you need / want during your 3-6 disasters?  Once you’ve created this “wish list,” do three things:

  1. Make sure you check closets and cupboards: you may have forgotten that you already have some of these things stashed away!
  2. Look at each item and determine if you could make it yourself.  If you had the knowledge, skills and time, could you save yourself some money?  Be careful though, you want items and products you can rely on in times of disaster and stress.  Don’t sacrifice that quality!
  3. Look at each item and decide if there is a more cost effective option that would work for you.  Again, sometimes the more expensive items are worth it, but not always.  Sometimes a less expensive item will do the job although it may take a little extra work from you.

You should keep this list with you!  Prioritize it first (see below), but once you have it ready to go, keep it with you!  That way, if you happen to see one of your top items on sale or at a 2nd hand store for crazy cheap, then you can pick it up and cross it off your list.  This list will keep you from just randomly buying things in a panic.  Don’t get too strict though!  You can buy item #5 before item #1 if you find it at a crazy price.  Just don’t buy item #50 before item #1!



Alright, now that you’ve created your lists, it is time to prioritize.  Both time and money are valuable and you want to spend those resources on the most important things first.  This exercise is similar to the one you used to find the 3-6 disasters you are preparing for.  For every item on your list, rate it on a scale of 1-4 in the following three areas:

1.  Will this skill, knowledge or item keep me and my family alive?

  • 1 =  It is a convenience only
  • 2 =  It would keep life more “normal” and reduce anxiety and stress
  • 3 =  It is likely that it would or could
  • 4 =  It is absolutely essential to live

2.  How long will this item, knowledge or skill take me to learn / do / buy (this has to do with how expensive it is)?

  • 1 = More than a year
  • 2 = Six months to a year
  • 3 = Two to Five months
  • 4 = A month or less

3.  How excited are you about gaining this knowledge / skill, doing this task, or owning this item?

This one may come as a surprise, but I’ve found that tackling things you don’t enjoy before those you do enjoy can provide the necessary motivation to accomplish them….because you want to get to those things you ARE excited about!  However, I don’t feel this category is as important as the others, so you can’t rate anything at a “4”

  • 1= I’m very excited
  • 2 = I’m indifferent
  • 3 = I’m dreading it


And once again, if it is helpful, I’ve created a printable to help you with this.  Simply click HERE or on the image below to download it:

All Three Lists

One Last Reminder

Remember, the lists you create today are just a starting point.  Put them in your purse or car.  Keep them with you.  As ideas come into your mind, add them to the list.  You will likely NEVER have an empty list, but keeping it in the forefront of your mind will help you stay focused on what is most important.

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Even if you know what you need to be prepared for, it can be tough to know where to start. These 3 lists will help you prioritize your preparedness goals