Five Lessons about Stuff from The Walking Dead

Over the past few weeks I’ve been re-watching The Walking Dead on Netflix. I started watching the show when I had a newly teenaged nephew and I needed something to talk about with him. We established ‘Bonding Monday’ and each week we got together to watch the newest episode. Relationship goal – check!

But since re-watching I’ve had an epiphany: everything you want to know about organizing, you can learn from the zombie apocalypse. In honour of Halloween, here are the top lessons about organizing, courtesy of Rick and the gang.

1.     Minimalism. If you’re fleeing from a herd of zombies what do you really need in your pack? Your sword, your guns – nothing else matters. The more you have, the more you have to carry. In this life and the one in the show stuff weighs you down.

2.     Kids add stuff.  Once Judith came along, so did the need for more stuff. A playpen, formula, even toys when they were at the prison! But your house doesn’t have to become toy land – Judith slept in a cooler for a while and, other than having a psycho threaten to break her neck, made out ok.

3.     No waste. From planting seeds to drinking toilet water, Rick and friends make use of everything. They aren’t dropping off clothing to Goodwill with each new trend; the only things these guys throw out are shell casings and zombie brains. 

4.     You can get more stuff. You’ll always find a house someone hasn’t picked over, a food bank someone hasn’t raided. Travel light – you’ll find more stuff.

5.     Let go. If there’s one thing Rick has taught us, it’s how to let go. He lets go of his wife, his kids (for brief periods), and heck even his sanity. If Rick can let go of all that, you can let go of your 1998 tax returns.

While the post-zombie South doesn’t exactly resemble pictures of minimalist Zen dens, we’re constantly reminded of what really matters. Carl, Michonne, Maggie – they have no homes, no choice of outfits, no Costco-sized grocery stockpile. But again and again, we see what’s most important - being together with the people you love. The Walking Dead’s greatest lesson is the same reason I started watching it in the first place – time with the ones you love is worth more than any stuff you can buy.