There are occasions when RL manages to mimic SL in quite unexpected ways. I never, for example, thought that the sort of activities more usually associated with sorting out my inworld inventory would have a practical application in the real world, but recently there has been a flurry of activity in my life that has demonstrated a real synergy with the practicalities of living a virtual life.
I’m currently in the throes of moving home and I’m consequently going through the motions of – quite literally – boxing up my life. It’s never the most fun activity and the whole process can be real pain. First there’s the matter of the boxes themselves: procuring them, selecting the contents, wrapping, packing, labeling, transporting and, of course, unpacking the other end. This is when you become acutely aware that you have no skill whatsoever in any of those required activities and find yourself constantly having to undo much of your good work to make good the thousands of mistakes you make along the way.
Then there are the perils of trying to live without everything that you’ve carefully packed away. Why is it that the moment you squirrel something away at the bottom of a box, which itself resides at the bottom of a stack of heavy and awkward boxes, you instantly can’t live without it? (Although you’ve not previously had cause to use it for several years).
The whole thing is a nightmare, but it is also extremely familiar to those of us who’ve ever struggled with an inventory in SL. And there are some valuable lessons we can learn from the virtual packaging process that can make the real thing more efficient and straightforward, even if it can’t change the fact that it’s always going to be a real drag.
Here’s some things I’ve learned:
Bigger isn’t necessarily better – Putting things into boxes is a great start, but throwing everything you own into the minimum number of boxes you can is just going to make things more difficult than not boxing up at all. Now you are faced with the prospect of hunting through a big pile of boxes to find the right one, followed by a further frustrating rummage through piles of contents before you find what you need. Good things do indeed come in small packages.
Labels are your friend – I can’t stress this one enough, label your boxes in such a way that a complete dummy (ie yourself) will intuitively understand what they contain. All boxes, no matter how recognisable you may think they are, look exactly the same when it comes to the crunch. There are two sights that can give you that horrible sinking feeling – opening an inventory to be faced with hundreds of boxes, all named ‘object’; or to walk into a room full of boxes all called ‘bedroom’. Give them meaningful names – ‘Kitchen – kettle & coffee inside!’; ‘Bedroom – stuff from under bed’; ‘You need what’s inside here – Unpack me first!’ – get the idea?
Get it sorted – Treat your real possessions like SL possessions. You’ve got folders called ‘shoes’ inside a folder called ‘Winter’, which also contains folders called ‘coats’, ‘skirts’, and ‘hats’ – if you’re caught in a blizzard inworld, everything you need is in one place and there’s no need to trawl through your whole inv to find it. Do the same with your RL boxes, both before and after the move. What lives together, stays together, travels together and arrives together – don’t be tempted to fill gaps in the van with boxes just because they’ll fit, you’ll end up with a jigsaw puzzle on arrival!
Pack for the future – many of us have boxes in our inv that are the equivalent of long term storage. Backup copies, old things we keep for nostalgia, decor that only gets dragged out once a year. When packing in RL, pack with the intention that some boxes are going to remain unopened – at the other end they can go straight into a cupboard, loft or under the bed and you can forget about them. (And, because you’ve labelled them so clearly, you’ll know exactly what’s in them when you find one at the back of the wardrobe in ten years time!
So, some useful life hacks there from the virtual world… Who would have thought it?
She goes downstairs to the kitchen clutching her handkerchief
Quietly turning the backdoor key
Stepping outside she is free
The Beatles – She’s Leaving Home