Man, life can really throw you for a loop when you least expect it. Or when you plan for it for several months. As you may or may not know, I just returned from Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. If you're not familiar, Burning Man is a week-long event that takes place in a temporary city built by 70,000 participants who all come to celebrate life, love, art, music, and each other. In preparation, our camp had several meetings a month for the last couple months leading up to the event. We built structures and swamp coolers, we created a meal plan for ten people over nine days that would fit into five coolers, we coordinated costumes, and built interactive artwork. All in all, it's an immense amount of work to make it out there and be comfortable. So as you might imagine, my blogging routine has suffered.
Even after returning, it's hard to get back on top of things. You have bins full of ziplocks full of dusty gear that needs unpacking and cleaning. You have more stuff than you can cram into your underbed bins. Your bike needs minor repairs. It's enough to completely cripple someone for a time. But with enough work and reorganizing, life tends to reclaim its order.
Over the last few days, I have been finishing up with my unpacking. It was overwhelming at times, but I was able to tackle it one section at a time. And through the whole process, I developed an added level of organization I hadn't achieved yet: ziplocking everything. Well, mostly everything. Let me explain.
Before, to organize my things, I would keep them in a drawer or in a clear plastic bin. All the gadgets and cables and tools would be loosely sitting there, not a care in the world. But then I started putting things in ziplock bags. First, it was the obvious things; AA batteries went into a small sandwich ziplock and so on. And to keep track of them, I wrote the date that the batteries were purchased: "August 2015." That way, four years down the road, I'll know if these batteries are fresh or a bit aged. AAA went in another bag. D batteries in another.
In another drawer I kept all my computer and power cables. Before, they were all nicely looped and stacked on top of each other. It was great when I would organize them, but if I needed a cable from the middle of the stack, chaos would ensue as I pulled it out. So now I have several sandwich ziplocks full of different cables. I have one for micro and mini USB. Another for standard USB. One for ethernet and another for thunderbolt. You get the idea. When I need a cable now, I grab the bag and pull it right out, no tangle in sight.
I have slowly been convincing my girlfriend to use ziplocks for any and everything. She has found that storing jewelry is another great use. For necklaces, it helps from them getting tangled. For earrings, it keeps them together while protecting them from getting scratched.
It may sound excessive at first, but you should give it a shot. Once you start, you'll think of more and more things to organize in these plastic sheaths of transparent order. Here are the different sizes I use and what I put in them:
Tiny bags for screws, small batteries, shoelaces, jewelry, and other tiny objects.
Snack bags for batteries, snacks, small cables.
Sandwich bags are a nice size for medium-sized things. They're especially great for organizing things in a backpack for a short trip. Have a travel-sized lotion bottle or toothpaste that needs some extra protection? This bag's great for that.
Freezer quart bags are the ultimate. Just big enough to store some serious gear, but not cumbersome (as pictured below). I use these for everything from GoPro accessories to sunglasses to power cables to camping gear.
Next time I'll have to talk about precut velcro strips. Amazing.