Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The 5 most important things

If your house were on fire and you could grab five things...

Listening to the latest Simple Life Together episode got my mind reeling, (as it usually does).  The topic was the five things you would want to grab if your house were on fire, assuming that you, your family and pets were already safe.  So I decided to try it out myself.  I'm also going to somewhat combine it with another podcast episode I recently listened to in which Joshua Becker talked about things that add value or enjoyment to your life.

The questions they asked (with some of my own tweaking) were:

  • What is the thing, and why is it important?
  • Am I giving this the attention it deserves right now?  How am I using or enjoying it right now?
  • What are some ways to keep this thing safe now, and in case of an emergency?
Off the top my head my 5 items and why:

#1- My purse.  
This contains my license, bank cards, insurance cards, birth certificates, marriage license, and my external hard drive.  Yes, I keep that in my purse.  The Huntsman looked at me pretty funny when I first said that, but if the house burns down when we're not home it won't do any good to have an external hard drive sitting on the computer desk.  I need to finish transferring the files from it over to the new computer so I can start using it like it's meant to be used, as an automatic back up.  But for now it has the most important things on it, photos from the last 7-10 years.  
I use my purse daily.  I keep the hard drive in it for a reason, to keep it safe.  It is kept on the hook nearest the front door at all times.  It would be very easy to grab it on my way out the door.  

#2- The computer.  
Which has a few more things on it, and more photos.  Although most photos that aren't on the hard drive are somewhere in the cloud, it would be easier to not have to retrieve them.  
I do use the computer regularly.  I'd say it does add some value to my life, when I choose to use it in a valuable way... but it also probably detracts some value from my life with the amount of time I spend doing nothing on Facebook and BabyCenter.  MOST of the things I do on the computer can be done on my phone except some document work and photo editing.  There are a few other things that are easier on the computer, such as writing blog posts.  Once I get the hard drive backing up like it's meant to, I'll feel like everything is safe.  

#3- Wedding and engagement rings.  
Most people probably wouldn't have to put this on their list.  If you wear them 100% of the time, then they'd obviously come out with you.  But since having kids I don't wear them at night anymore.  My fingers swelled so much during pregnancy that it became very uncomfortable to wear them overnight, and I stayed in the habit of taking them off at night.  Also, currently my engagement ring needs to be repaired, so I don't wear that anyway.  But the engagement ring was my great grandmother's, married in 1918 I believe.  And the wedding ring belonged to my mother-in-law, and possibly her mother before her.  
Of course I enjoy my wedding ring, but not as much as I would if I kept it on.  It is easy enough to grab IF I can get to my room in an emergency. But the engagement ring would be harder to get to.  It's in a ring box in the top drawer of our dresser.  Mixed in with random important paperwork.  

#4- Hard copy photos.  
This one might not be as realistic for me.  Yes, I could physically carry them out.  But I couldn't likely get to them quickly in an emergency.  They're in a tote in the bottom of my bedroom closet.  And there's even more in boxes in the basement.  So I'm not sure if this one even counts.  These are photos dating back the last 20 plus years.  
I'm not enjoying them to the best of my ability because they're just in a tote.  And they're not really safe.  

#5- Was going to be my phone.  But I just remembered that I have a tote in the bedroom full of important papers.  They're not something I enjoy, but they're something that would be very useful in an emergency.  However, they're not organized in any shape or fashion.  And probably not even up to date.  

And a few more questions to ask after going through the exercise:
  • What have I learned from this challenge?  
  • What changes will I make now?  
  • Has this exercise helped me to more easily part with things that didn't make the list?  
  • Do I feel better prepared for an emergency?  
A few things I've learned:
  • Three and a half of these things could be eliminated if I had them organized better and backed up digitally on a cloud somewhere.  So I've already started thinning out my digital photos and uploading them to Flickr.  
  • Because of the fear of things I'd NEED, only ONE of the things on this list is something I LOVE and couldn't replace.  
Some changes I will aim to make:
  • Obviously I will start storing and organizing my digital files in a safe, backed up location.  Two really.  The hard drive and on a cloud.  Then I'll be able to do this exercise again and hopefully have mostly different answers.
  • I need to get my engagement ring fixed, and start wearing my wedding ring all the time again.  
Do I feel better prepared for an emergency?
  • Not yet.  But I feel better prepared to prepare for an emergency.  If that makes any sense at all.  
Am I more prepared to let go of things that didn't make the list?
  • Honestly, I'm not sure yet.  You'd think so.  But since most of these things aren't emotional "items" I don't know if it made any true emotional items stand out above the rest.  
I plan to come back and do this exercise again in a few months and see how it changes.  

So... what items would YOU rescue??  Tell me in the comments!


  1. This is a great post, but do you really carry birth certificates in your purse all the time?!? lol
    A couple years ago, Ryan and I invested in a fireproof safe that we put all of our important documentation in: the deed to our house, birth certificates, passports, social security cards, life time hunting and fishing licenses, etc... These are all locked away in a heavy duty fireproof safe, with one key in the kitchen drawer and the other in my vehicle (just in case). These documents used to be kept in a safe deposit box at the bank, until I decided that I didn't want to pay for it anymore. Also, these documents are all easily replaceable in the event that the safe doesn't work as advertised.
    I would have to say:
    - Purse, mainly for identification and banking purposes.
    - External hard drives... this should be put some place safer, as now they just sit in a pocket in my camera bag. These should be added to my fireproof safe!
    - My hope Chest, not entirely sure how realistic it would be. It has all of my important and sentimental memorabilia from my children's lives thus far. It also holds a lot of mine and Ryan's important stuff (year books, military & wedding stuff, stuff of Ryan's fathers, etc...). I could easily say that in an emergency that could be the ONE and only thing that I would want to get out of my house... everything else would be an inconvenience to lose, but could be replaced.

  2. Strangely enough I really do have original copies of mine and S's birth certificates in my purse, and our marriage license. Don't know why or how, they've just always been there.
    I got thinking yesterday, the gun safe is somewhat fire proof, so maybe I should put a few things in there. But it's not super high heat rated. I really have a lot of work to do before I'd feel exceptionally confident about this.