How to not lose your shit when you move

I’ve moved a lot in my adult life. Like, an honestly ridiculous amount. (Just did a count in my head & the tally is at six times since I turned 19. That’s a little more often than once every eight months on average. Part of me thinks this is a little hilarious since I lived in the same house my entire life before moving out after high school. Maybe I’m making up for lost time?)

Anyways, point being: moving screws everything up. Everything. It disrupts your routine, it makes it hard to find things necessary in every day life (and things that aren’t absolutely necessary for survival but are, you know, a good idea, like toothpaste and shampoo). If you have a “normal job”, you can at least escape to some structured same-ness during your work hours, but if you work at home you have to handle totally tanked productivity during & after the move, too.

So…what the hell do you do?

I’ve got some ideas. (Surprised? Didn’t think so!)

As with almost everything I suggest, these are focused on prevention before the event instead of trying to fix things afterwards. I’ve got some tips for afterwards too, though, especially in situations like our latest move where there’s not a lot of prep time.

Before you move:

  •  Investigate your new neighborhood. Spend an hour or two driving or walking around it and getting a feel for where everything is. Note the bus stops. Do some googling and find the places that do take out or delivery near your new place, that suit any dietary restrictions you might have. Also check nearby grocery stores. If you’re feeling the need to be especially prepared, write all of this down and save it (or even better, put it in Evernote or Springpad so that it’s accessible from your phone/tablet/computer without digging for a slip of paper in post-moving mess). Having that list of good take-out places can save your ass in the first few days after moving.
  • Create an oasis kit. This is something we started talking about on the last Idea Round Up call. The idea being that you figure out what you are most likely to desperately need in the days after you move and put it there. Not necessarily in a “survival” sense, but in more of a self-care sense. For example, my oasis kit would probably have chocolate, tea, a good book, and maybe a heating pad for sore post-move muscles or some wine. And then you do something smart like pack the oasis kit in a bright purple box so that you can easily find it after the move.
  • Make a list of priorities. What’s most important to get unpacked quickest? My list would probably go like this: kitchen stuff (gotta eat), laptop (gotta work), bathroom stuff (gotta stay clean & smell good). Just making this list will help you out when you’re staring at the mountain of boxes to unpack and trying not to hyperventilate.

After you move:

  • Use your oasis kit! Self explanatory.
  • Find your list of priorities & use it. Get the important stuff unpacked first, consciously and on purpose, instead of waiting until you really need it – there’s nothing worse than digging frantically for toilet paper when the need to use it is incredibly imminent. (I have some level of authority on that, so just trust me.)
  • Make time for self-care. It’s going to seem silly and frivolous and like a big waste of time when you have so many other things pressing on you, but really. Do it. You’ll sleep better, if nothing else.

When you can’t really prepare:

  • Before you panic, make a list of everything that needs to be done before you move. Just getting it all out of your head & on to paper will help immensely. Of course, there’s also a good chance that you’ll look at the ensuing list and still feel the urge to panic – turn that big list into things that need to be done in a specific order, things that can be done quickly (think in an hour of spare time – like packing up the bathroom or your workspace), and things that you can do right now. Start working. And then…
  • Ask for help. There are people you know who are not only ready but willing to help you in your hour of need. I’m totally one of those people who hates asking for help (out of a combined sense of pride & not wanting to be a burden to anyone else), so I get it if you don’t want to. But get over it and do it anyways. People love you and want to help, speaking as someone who’s been on both sides of the “need moving help” equation.
  • Above all, be kind to yourself. Moving sucks. Moving with little to no notice is even worse. You will probably not do everything perfectly and that is okay, it’ll all turn out fine. (Trust me, if my “finding an apartment with two weeks notice and then using movers you found on Craigslist the day of the move for the big stuff and moving everything else by yourself until 5 AM” story turned out okay – albeit exhausting – your move will go fine.)

Those are my ideas. Now – I want to hear your’s! How have you survived and thrived during + after moves in the past? Any tips you can use ahead of time to make things better afterwards? 

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