Thinking Outside the (Tote) Box

This post is a discussion of creativity and a return to an earlier post about a do-it-yourself project for travelers – a sleep platform for the backseat of a car in case of emergency stops or for the person willing to sleep in a car occasionally instead of getting a hotel room. the sleep platform is better than sleeping on the seat but not as comfortable as a hotel room. It can save time however for the person traveling fast to be able to have a nap when needed to make a long car trip less a risk of drowsy driving. See this post for more tips about signs of drowsy driving and tips for staying awake or signs that it is time to pull over and nap in the front seat or on your handy sleep platform built on storage totes if you are me. (Traveling Shows the Beauty of Our Land and People)

Regarding creativity and “Thinking outside the box” – that doesn’t mean start from a blank page it means start with the box – start with the present known knowledge base. A box is a great invention and if you add a hinge then the lid is easier to use, add wheels and you have a wagon or a cart or a car. Even the blank page is a great start. That phrase dates back in time to school children who started with a blank slate each day. Paper was rare and so were books. The teacher would copy out sections from a book on the large chalkboard/slate on the wall and all the school children would copy it to their individual personal slates to memorize the text or practice the math or grammar exercise. The chalk would rub off when they carried the slate home in their lunch pail so the memorization of long passages of speeches or poetry was common. See works by Laura Ingalls Wilder for more information about slates and teaching in the 1800s. (biography/Laura Ingalls Wilder)

This website is not named for the phrase Think outside the box. It was named for a passage from the Tao Te Ching – start with the universe – start from traditional knowledge – start from square and transcend that, think beyond our limits and explore the great unknown. (Tao Te Ching, Verse 41)

For more information on thinking creatively and effectively working towards a better solution to difficult decisions rather than feeling forced to choose one of two less preferred choices I recommend the book Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking, by Jennifer Riel and Roger L. Martin (2017, HBR) (hbr.org/Creating Great Choices)

Do It Yourself, storage totes to sit on or use as an exercise bench or mini-couch, or to sleep on in the back seat of your car:

To make a padded top to a tote, make a paper pattern of the inner section of the lid and the full size of the total surface. Newspaper sheets taped together can make a sheet as large as you need for creating patterns – also handy for upholstery replacement or copying a favorite pair of pants.
Check how much material will be needed for all the pieces. this project required two additional camp mats. Enough of the second was left to make an additional layer to cover all three totes. The smallest tote was slightly shorter so it needed three layers to reach the height of the two larger totes.
Draw an outline of the pattern for easier cutting. I used a utility knife and cut through the two layers of the mat with two cuts. I used a scissors to trim any loose pieces. The camp mats have antimicrobial and quick drying features so I decided not to add an Duct Tape to the edges as anything that can hold water out can also hold water in. Allowing the edges to remain open allows them to be able to air dry more effectively.
Adhesive backed Velcro (TM) is available for garage tools that can hold up to ten pounds of pressure and is good to temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit. Using a measuring tape and marker to help position the sections I applied 3 or 4 inch sections of Velcro (TM) to the totes and sections of mat. The smallest tote was not flat so the pieces are lined up with the areas that were flat. The larger tote’s Velcro (TM) is at the corner because that is where the most pressure would be likely to occurring when sitting or laying on the pad.
The completed padded Totes, sitting on the mats I used for the car sleep platform. They are still full length and I use them as exercise mats when not traveling.
The project left one section of camp mat that nicely fits over the three totes with less excess. The surface is firm and doesn’t skid with the other mats underneath the totes. It is a good size to use as an exercise bench or as individual seats or as a mini couch surface. Standing on a Tote would be possibly too much weight for the lid. Sitting or laying down across the extended surface spreads out the weight more evenly.
When not in use the totes can all be stacked and are useful for storing things. The three exercise/camp mats can all be coiled into one column and secured with a belt or some other fastener. The mats have elastic bands that may be too small for the diameter but they could be combined into a longer elastic band for the purpose.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Thinking Outside the (Tote) Box by