Preparedness Over Paranoia

We at In Order to Succeed pride ourselves on helping our clients be prepared. When you think about protecting your business, you can never be too prepared.

It’s not something we’d like to think about, but it’s important to be prepared for the possibility of a terrorist attack. Like sickness and accidents, terrorism is a harsh reality of the world in which we live and while attacks in the past may have seemed to be something that happened “over there,” we now see them in America: from Oklahoma City and The World Trade Center to the recent standoff in Oregon.

As with any anxiety-causing situation, sometimes the mere process of confronting reality and coming up with a plan can be enough to quiet the mind and allow us to move on to other things. And, at the end of the day, even if it never happens—it is always a good idea to be prepared. While we are not going to focus on building a bunker, we do believe that there are things businesses can do to be ready in the event that an attack.

Main Street Terrorism

The Paris and Sydney attacks have caused us to rethink what terrorism looks like. Not the grand gesture of 9/11 but smaller, coordinated attacks that target citizens going about their day—drinking coffee, meeting for drinks, eating dinner, shopping. Small businesses can take measures to improve their readiness in the unlikely event that an attack like this occurs.

Have A Team

Every small business should have a dedicated group of staff who have volunteered to serve on an emergency committee. This will guarantee that they are invested, interested, and the type of employees who will help make your plan feasible. Be sure to:

  • Include personnel from every department. An understanding of the physical area of an office is tantamount in emergency planning.
  • Include personnel from every demographic. Age, gender, ability—all of these factors must be accounted for during a crisis. Make sure that you are prepared to meet the needs of staff.
  • Include field staff, freelancers, temporary staff. If you have a headquarters and field offices, make sure that you don’t forget to represent your field offices on your team. The worst message you can send to employees is that only the headquarters (where management is likely housed) is on their mind when it comes to preparation. Make sure that you engage temps and even those who work remotely in the plan—even if it’s simply to provide remote staff with a copy of the plan. Who knows, they might have insight into your businesses preparedness.
  • Make this a priority. Many employees feel “committed to death.” Be sure to use time wisely, preparing an agenda for the next meeting at the end of each meeting and only meet if necessary. Consider compensation or a perk for members but only provide this after volunteering. Be sure to recognize and thank the members of your emergency team—this can be one of the most stressful parts of a job.
  • Seek an outside resource to help with a safety assessment. Depending on the municipality many times a city, county or town employee, fire chief, police officer or other civil servant will be willing to help

Make A Plan – Necessary Inclusions and Resources

Let’s face it: this applies to everything. Whether it’s a blizzard that shuts down a city, a massive power outage or a terror attack businesses should have a plan to handle the crisis and then get back to work as soon as possible. A major motivation of Main Street Terrorism is disruption to lives and the economy, thus a plan to get back is a way to thwart these attacks. What should a plan entail? And who should you include outside of your organization?

A good plan includes:

  • How to stay open. As much as your natural instinct might be to send employees to be home with their families, keeping open through a crisis is encouraged by experts., America’s primary resource on preparedness for natural and manmade disasters ranks this first in its list of how to prepare your small business for a crisis.
  • How to reopen as quickly as possible. Sometimes you can’t stay open during a crisis. Getting your business operating as quickly as possible accomplishes many things that are beneficial to a community in crisis: it establishes a sense of normalcy, boosts the economy, and restores routine. Whether you stay open or reopen quickly, a way to accomplish this is
  • A list of essential staff. Who are the people who are absolutely essential to operations and could keep things running or get them back running as quickly as possible? What it comes down to is staffing with the people who have the core skills to run your business’ general workflow. With a large enough group you can cover the workflow but not require everyone to get to the office. Alternating days or half days, allowing for remote work, and finding other creative ways to schedule can keep things running, if lightly.
  • Adherence to local, state and federal ordinances and directions. Be sure to have contingencies in your emergency plan for things like curfews and restrictions on driving. No employee should ever enter unsafe conditions. Some tried and true contingencies include:
    • If the municipality where the office is located or an employee lives or must drive through is ordered to stay off the road, employees should follow this.
    • If there are plumbing, electrical, heating issues employees should not report.

You don’t have to prepare alone or reinvent the wheel. There are excellent resources online and where you work to help you.

Reach out to:

  • Local police, fire, and government officials. Many will provide training to staff, assess your exits, and help you design your plan.
  • Other businesses in your office. If you have one or more suites in a building, reach out to the building manager and other companies in your building. Review your plans together, see where you can work together in the event of a crisis, see what they caught that you did not.

Don’t forget, these strategies work for a business and In Order to Succeed is here to help you define and execute the suggestions above. Coming next, we will discuss strategies and resources to work with members of your household, including staff members, to make a plan for your residence in the event of a crisis or other emergency.

Decluttering as Zen Meditation

Decluttering your home or workspace can often seem overwhelming, but in truth it can be as peaceful as meditation, and can be a way to practice living mindfully and in the moment.

Decluttering can be your zazen, as it is often mine.

Recently I was honored with the chance to speak to a class at the San Francisco Zen Center, with the wonderful Zen priest Susan O’Connell (one of my favorite people in the world, and my favorite movie star friend). I talked with the Zen students about decluttering, and a couple things stood out for me as I talked:

  • Clutter is a manifestation of a) holding onto the past and b) fear of what might happen in the future.
  • Letting go of clutter is a way to live more mindfully and in the present.
  • The act of decluttering itself can be a mindfulness practice.

Let’s talk about each of those things briefly.

Clutter is holding onto the past, or fear of the future

Why do we have clutter in the first place? Why do we keep it when we don’t really need it? Maybe we think we do need it — for two reasons:

1. We don’t want to let go of the past. Often clutter comes in the form of emotional attachment to objects that have significance to us. They might remind us of a loved one, or a vacation, or a special event like a birthday, funeral, graduation, etc. It might be a gift from someone. All of this is living in the past. I’m not saying we should forget about the past, but letting go of these objects (and they’re only objects, they’re not the events or loved ones themselves) … it is a way of releasing our hold on the past. It’s a way of living more in the present. I never forget the past, but it’s not a place I try to dwell.

2. We’re afraid of the future. Clutter might be things we think we might need sometime in the future. We hold on to them just in case. Over-packing for a trip is a good example — we bring more than we really need, just in case we need them. It’s the same in our houses — we have a ton of things we don’t really need or use, just in case. We’re afraid of being unprepared for the future, but the truth is we can never be totally prepared. We can’t control the outcome of the future, and trying to do so means that we’re never really living in the present moment. We’re always preparing for what might (or might not) come.

Look at your clutter carefully, one object at a time, and ask yourself why you’re holding onto each object. It’s probably for one of these two reasons, if you’re honest.

Btw, books are usually examples of one of these two reasons. We hold onto books we’ve already read, as trophies of our reading accomplishments. We hold onto books we might read in the future (but probably won’t), with the optimism that our future selves are going to be more amazing readers than we’ve ever been in the past. In truth, you only need three or four books — the ones you might read in the next month. Then after you’ve read those, donate those books to charity, and check out a few books from the library.

Let go of clutter to live mindfully

So if clutter is holding onto the past, and fearing the future … how can we live in the present instead?

I slowly get rid of clutter, and in doing so, I release my mind of these attachments and fears. It’s a liberating process. Clutter is the physical embodiment of these attachments and fears — emotional stuff that we don’t realize we have. By decluttering, we are clearing ourselves of these tangled webs.

And when I’ve gotten rid of clutter, I’m freed. I can forget about those things, and live instead in this moment. I can fully appreciate life as it happens, instead of looking back on what has happened before, or looking forward to what might happen later.

It’s of course possible to live in the moment even if you have clutter. There is no prerequisite to mindful living. But decluttering can be a beautiful process of helping ourselves let go of the things we don’t realize we’re holding on to.

Clutter as mindfulness practice

And so, as I declutter, not only am I freeing myself up to live in the present … I am living in the present during the process of decluttering.

It’s a form of zazen — which is sitting meditation, but at its core zazen is really a way to practice being mindful. It’s a way to prepare us for dealing mindfully with the rest of the things we do in life. And really, anything can be used as a way to practice mindfulness. I’ve often used running and walking, but also washing dishes and sweeping.

And decluttering is one of the best mindfulness practices, in my experience. Here’s how I do it:

1. Pick one cluttered flat surface. It can be a tabletop, countertop, shelf, the top of a dresser, floor of a closet, floor of a room (just a section of that floor to start with). Don’t worry about all the rest of your cluttered spaces for now — just pick this one space. Small is good.

2. Clear that surface. Take everything off and pile it on the floor or another table. Clean the surface while it’s clear — wipe it with a cloth, slowly and mindfully.

3. Take one object from the pile. Forget about the entire pile — just look at that one object. Ask yourself why you have it. Is it for emotional reasons, or do you really use it? Is it for “just in case”? When was the last time you used it? If you don’t really need or use it, put it in a box for donation or trash it. If you do really use it, put it in another pile to be put back on your now-clean surface. If you’re on the fence and can’t bear to give something up, put it in a “maybe” box and put that box away for six months (mark the date on your calendar).

4. Repeat, one object at a time. Practice doing this mindfully. Make a decision with each object — keep, donate, or maybe box. No waffling or putting off decisions. Deal with each object once, then move on.

5.Put the objects back, and make a “home” for each one. Each object needs to have a spot that is its home, and you should always put those objects back in their homes. If you can’t find a home for an object, you don’t have space for it. Donate the items in the donation box, and put away the maybe box. Eventually you won’t need a maybe box as you get good at this.

Learn to focus on one thing at a time, mindfully, and deal with each object once. This is a good practice for doing things in the rest of your life.

Original post written by Leo Babauta of

Week In Review 10/4

Home and Business Organizational news and chatter from around the globe.

Can you believe its already October? We sure can’t. Take a few minutes and enjoy these home and business organizational tips.

Further Reading

Download a copy of In Order To Succeeds founder and president, Denise Caron Quinn’s tweets for the week of 25 September 2009-2 October 2009.  You’ll find even more home and business organization news and tips in her tweetbook.

Stress Free Business Moving Checklist

Just as moving a home is stressful so is moving an entire office. There’s the new desks and office spaces to assign, company contact information to change, permits to get, boxes to pack and then unpack and that’s only the beginning. In Order To Succeed‘s Stress Free Office Moving Checklist was desgined by our professional organizers to make your office moving as stress free as possible.

Business Moving Checklist

3 months prior to Moving Day
☐ Put together a “moving binder” to keep notes and file paperwork
☐ Hire a mover
☐ Create a floor plan of your new office and begin making decisions on use of space
☐ Hire or choose an employee to be a move coordinator
☐ Order new phone and fax numbers
☐ Start a list of who needs to be informed of change of address
☐ Arrange a meeting with the new office’s building manager

2 months prior to Moving Day
☐ Order change of address labels
☐ Order Internet access
☐ Take inventory of all furniture and computers
☐ Order any needed office furniture and or computers
☐ Inform vendors and customers of change of address
☐ Update website information
☐ Update financial information
☐ Notify post office of change of address

1 month prior to Moving Day
☐ Contact all utilities
☐ Arrange for special transportation of special office equipment such as copiers
☐ Store property that will not be moved
☐ Check to see if you need any moving permits
☐ Complete an office floor plan
☐ Assign new offices and phone numbers

3 weeks prior to Moving Day
☐ Dispose of items that cannot be moved
☐ Arrange for a cleaning company to prepare your office before your arrival
☐ Begin pack nonessentials
☐ Place any need do not move tags
☐ Tag all desk pads and chair pads

2 weeks prior to Moving Day
☐ Back up computers
☐ Inspect new building
☐ Begin to pack nonessentials
☐ Post diagrams of the office at new location
☐ Make sure all office doors in new location are marked
☐ Label bookcase shelves and pack
☐ Label and disconnect all computer components
☐ Distribute new key cards

1 week prior to Moving Day
☐ Confirm any travel reservations and/or arrival time of moving van
☐ Defrost refrigerator and freezer, propping doors open
☐ Pack your belongings or let movers pack
☐ Disconnect and prepare major appliances for move
☐ Set aside anything that will travel in your car so it will not be loaded on the truck
☐ Clean out supply cabinets
☐ Clean out desks
☐ Disconnect all office equipment

Moving Day
☐ If using a mover, be sure you or someone is at the old office to answer questions
☐ Collect old key cards
☐ Arrange to have an employee vista old office periodically to pick up mail

Download your own copy of In Order To Succeed‘s Stress Free Business Moving Checklist.