The phrase, "proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance" can be applied to all areas of your life. Preparation is often the difference between being comfortable and being miserable, especially if you're on active duty in the barracks. Living on base has its challenges, but if you take a few extra steps, you can insure your leave is approved on time, all uniforms are ready for any inspection, and you're sitting pretty while everyone who lives off base is frantically fighting traffic.


1. Clothing steamer

Local dry cleaners are likely a little out of reach and aren't open when you need them to be. This makes a clothing steamer an essential in every barracks room. Grab a portable steamer from your nearest Walmart to ensure your uniforms are wrinkle-free at all times — plus, you'll save some money by doing it yourself.

2. Printer with scanner

Bureaucracy sucks — especially when it ends up with the company office telling you to update something that the S1 should have already done, and now it's affecting your leave approval. Here's a rule to live by: When handling important paperwork, scan it, e-mail it, and print a physical back-up.

Print out proof of updates, classes, courses, MCI, and anything else that you have been tasked to do digitally. The machine isn't going to stop turning for you; when you need physical proof that something's been done, don't rely on the company office to have a printer in working order.

3. Rechargeable batteries

Rechargeable batteries are good for your wallet and the environment. They're an investment that pays off almost immediately because you're going to use them in everything from console controllers to that wireless mouse for your laptop. You won't have to go to the store at 0300 because you ignored the low-battery light for a week.

4. Cleaning supplies

Your future self will thank you for having a fully-stocked cabinet of cleaning supplies when the time comes to clean up that crime scene of a mess after a night of partying.

Plus, the most common form of corporal punishment is forced cleaning. Whole units have been known to attack the nearest PX at the same time when getting set straight — if you've got everything you need already, you'll be finished by the time your neighbors hit the checkout line.

5. Extra food

There will be days when going for a run with the LT results in missing mess hall hours. Most mess halls have a rule that states a troop cannot be served if they are filthy or in a PT uniform.

By keeping a reserve of breakfast staples in your barracks room, you can still enjoy a satisfying meal even when the Big Green Weenie is hungry for seconds. Cereal and microwavable foods are a way better alternative to that forgotten MRE that's been sitting at the bottom of your pack since the last field op.

6. A Nerf gun

BB and air soft guns are banned on most military installations, but don't worry, there's a loophole: the Nerf gun. They're essentially harmless, ricochets don't damage government property, and they're a must for those times when the leadership has gone home. Glide into best bro's room with a sweet combat stance and hook him up with your mastery of marksmanship. Exercise that trigger discipline and economy of rounds as you enthusiastically shout politically incorrect phrases at your best friend.

Technically, it's training and you're a motivated troop keeping your team from becoming complacent.