There’s nothing like moving house—badly—to shore up some lessons learnt.
When I first moved out of home my mother gave me a book, one of those hard cover Reader’s Digest specials, 10,001 Hints and Tips for the Home. I hadn’t opened it when I took it off the shelf to put in the charity box prior to my recent move. Curious, I flicked to the section on moving house. The first subheading was ‘Three months before the move’. I laughed.
My partner and I moved house earlier this week. The turnaround for the decision went something like this: inspection on Saturday, application in on Monday, keys in our hands the following week, pack and move. The idea of having three months to move was a luxury.
The day the removalists came we were underprepared with two rooms still to pack. Despite the fact we’d spent a weekend stuffing books and other items into packing crates, we’d still underestimated how long it would take to sort through other aspects of our life: scraps of paper onto which urgent notes had been hastily scribbled (were they still relevant?), boxes of miscellany from previous moves that had never been re-opened (what is in that box?) and the relentless stream of small decisions to make about whether to keep favourite but ageing items of clothing.
Next time I vow to take a more project oriented approach with the decision to move as the start of the project. It means we can begin shedding the obsolete parts of our lives earlier on, even before we have a place to stay, rather than when the crates turn up.
The things I did well were: organising change of address, switching electricity, phone and internet services and ordering the removalists.
The things I did badly were: tracking our progress against the event horizon and acting accordingly, getting buy-in from stakeholders (mainly my partner) about the need to make some decisions concurrently, and not admitting I was unfit for the task (health issues aside, I should’ve asked a friend for help or hired a professional anyway).
The idea of hiring a professional brought me back to the idea of project management being a profession. I don’t know many people who have moved more than 3-4 times in the last decade, but moving assistants and removalists deal with moves every day: they know how to do it properly so things go relatively smoothly and they can do it faster because they’re well-practised. So does that mean if you’re a project professional and you project manage your life, you can deal with life’s challenges better?
What project-led advice would you give to someone moving house?