It doesn't matter if you're a beginner survivalist or if you've been prepping for years, you've probably got a laundry list of items that still need to get done before you're ‘ready.’ But actually deciding which items on your list to tackle first can be tricky. Getting prepared for a disaster isn't something you can knock out over a weekend, and as you get closer to your goals you're going to find that there's a consistent effort required to keep your family ready. There's always one more thing to acquire in order to keep your family safe. But as you look at everything on your to-do list, everyone is going to have a different opinion on what should get done first. You may just want to shut your eyes, spin the page, and get started on whatever task your finger lands on. The problem though, is that this isn't always the best choice. Some tasks are expensive, while others are going to require a great deal of time or effort. In my opinion, the best course of action is to sit down and use a little bit of logic to decide how you're going to get started. Here's how I tackle my ‘to-do’ list:
Rank the easiest tasks first Getting some fast progress on a long list of items is a great way to boost your motivation. Start with the easiest tasks that you can complete in an hour or so, or the preps that are cheap to buy. Your confidence will skyrocket as you begin getting things done, and the best part is you'll be a little closer to your goal of being prepared, without having invested a great deal of time, money or effort.
Rank tasks based on their likelihood to occur After the easy tasks, you need to make a plan that caters to the disasters most likely to occur in your area. None of us have access to unlimited time or resources, so put your energies towards preparing for disasters which are most likely to occur. If a storm knocks out the power and you've got to sit in the dark because your generator isn't working, and you haven't got it repaired because you were too busy digging an underground bunker is the perfect example. It's much more fun to consider what you need to survive a total TEOTWAWKI event, but ensure you've already got a plan to deal with the emergencies which are much more likely to happen.
Rank your preps based on their ability to save you It's a sad fact, but some disasters are going to be very hard to survive. A nuclear apocalypse is a good example of this. There's a huge list of items you could potentially need, from years worth of food to underground bunkers and gas masks, but these may not even be enough to ensure you survive. Move preps like these down your list, and move items up that will make a big the difference to your survival. Having a bug out kit in your vehicle, even just a basic one with some supplies, water and blankets would probably be enough to see you through a tough spot.
Rank tasks based on your existing redundancies When you're prepping, two is one and one is none. Having a backup plan for your backup plan is just good common sense. But when it comes to prioritizing, you need to think this through. Let's say you're planning to buy a new rifle, but you've already got four in your gun cabinet. Of course, I'd never argue that having one more gun in your house is a bad thing, but if the money you're about to blow on your fifth rifle means you're going to have to wait till you can tick off another prepping item in your list, it may be time to reassess if you really need it.
Rank tasks based on the seriousness of the event With a limited amount of time you need to be realistic about your situation and not waste any time preparing for events that aren't serious. Getting a wood stove setup as a backup for your central heating probably isn't a priority at the beginning of summer, but in the weeks leading up to winter it becomes a much more critical task. I'd never rely on the grid alone to keep my central heating running, so think about the situations that make the most sense to prepare for, right now.
Rank tasks on how well they complement your overall plan Consider your overall plan when the SHTF. Is your priority to hunker down in your home, or are you going to be bugging out to a self-sustaining cabin in the wild, which has been setup with supplies, gear and all the food you need to survive whatever comes? Depending on your overall strategy, it makes sense to prioritize the tasks which complement your survival plans. If you're going to be bugging out, ensure you've got vehicles in order, bug out kits at the ready, and your family knows precisely what to do once you've made the call to evacuate. In this situation you shouldn't neglect the preps for your home altogether, but I'd recommend only focusing on these once your main is ready to go. Prioritizing your to-do list is the best way to take an ordered approach to survival. As you tick off the easiest tasks you'll make rapid progress, and you'll be as ready as can be, at any point in time. Of course, being a survivalist is a lifestyle choice and even those of us who have been preparing for years still have things sitting on our to-do lists, but by getting the most important tasks done first, there's a good chance you'll have the critical items sorted before you actually need them.