07 August 2017

Using Your Organiser To Plan Major Life Changes

The movers lorry, yes it was full!!
A question came up the other day about using an organiser to plan a house move/job change, or both together. Having been through something similar myself, I offered to provide some information. A few people said they would appreciate seeing the notes as well. So a blog post and possibly a future podcast seemed a good way of doing that.

To start with let me explain the circumstances of my 'Life Change', other peoples will be different I'm sure, but the principles behind how you use an organiser will be similar if not the same.

Back in 2010 my wife Alison and I moved to live permanently in France. This involved selling our UK house and moving with our cat to the house we already owned in rural France. Because we already owned the house here in France, that did make the move easier because we were moving in to a house that was fully functioning, with a few minor detailed exceptions. So in most peoples circumstances, our move was a lot easier than some peoples.

We had started to consider and plan our move in the Autumn of 2008, the sale of our UK house took longer than expected due the bank crisis of late 2008 (not an ideal time to sell!). However, that didn't stop us from starting to plan the move.

Where to start on your planning?

I started by listing every single possible action that would have to take place before the date of the move and after the move. Not in any particular order, just write them all down in a simple list with the name or description of the action and when it has to be done by. If you don't know the date of your move (and we didn't) then keep it simple in terms of days, weeks or months before or after move day.

This list is going to be your master task list and it will keep growing! If you aren't moving on your own then you can of course involve the whole family in assembling the master task list.

It looks something like this. Just a simple list of tasks, when they have got to be done by, and the done column can be either when you have done the task, or when it was transferred to another list.

What I then did was gather together the tasks in time interval order so all the ones a week before on one list, two weeks before on another etc. That will help you break things down in to the right time sequence. You can also add extra detail on to these lists compared to the master list as well.

These time interval task lists can be labelled with the deadline date once you know the date of your move.

You will be ticking off these tasks as you complete them, possibly adding notes, confirmation numbers etc as you go through the lists.

The time interval task lists might look something like this. Again the tasks that have to be completed by the actual date or the number of days or weeks before your move/change date. The 'Who?' can be the organisation the task refers to or the person or family member that task has been delegated/assigned to. And again a tick box to indicate the task is completed.

In addition to your task lists you will need to start to gather together information about your new location/job.

So start to gather together information about the new location, or your new job location. Information about the nearest shops, their opening times, website addresses. You can use normal contact/address pages for these.

One of your lists of things to do is changes of address if you are moving. This can be a very long list and not just your friends and family, but there is the formal ones like banks, pensions, insurance companies etc etc.  You can use normal contact/address pages for these. That keeps them in alphabetical order neatly.

It is best to dig out the contact details for all of these before the actual move date so you have all the information ready for the eventual move date.

The more you can do in advance of the moving day the better. Then once you know your moving day then you will be able to quickly put your plan in to action and run through your lists of actions. You aren't dependent on your memory, you have it all written down and you can easily run down the lists and clear each action. Some of the actions will take longer than you might think even doing things on line can take several minutes with forms to fill out etc.

We used a mail forwarding service for the first year or so, this was very worthwhile in case there is someone or an organisation that you missed off your list (no one is perfect!)

The two forms above are available here for you to download, print, modify as you wish:

Master task list - .docx and .pdf
Time interval list - .docx and .pdf

And yes the lorry and trailer made it to our house in France, we warned the neighbours before it arrived.

Good luck with your move or job change.


  1. I am making move #45 (!) at the end of this month. Many, many years ago I would mark the outside of each box with the location (kitchen, bathroom, etc) and what was inside. About 5 moves ago, I started numbering each box (along with the location) and keeping an index in my planner with the contents of each box. It is muuch easier to look at a list, find the item that you are looking for and then look for that numbered box.

    Also, I keep a tabbed section in my planner where all move-related papers and notes go until that move is completed. Then I archive them. When the next move rolls around, I go back and check the old lists to make sure I don't forget anything.

    1. Allee, this is great advice for anyone moving. I haven't moved as much as you ("only" 26 times in 20 years!) but I have done several international moves which is always a major production. What you described with numbering boxes and keeping an index is exactly what the professional movers do to help them keep track of boxes (and to try to prevent any of them getting lost in the international move). And listing the contents covers them in case of loss (or false claims). It's a great way to keep track of your belongings during the move.

      And it's very important to keep your pages related to your move, as you do. In my experience it's best to archive all move-related pages in a designated move binder, separated by tabbed sections labeled with the year and move destination. One year I was very silly/ hopeful I would never have to move again because I had reached (what I wanted to be) my final destination, and threw away my pages related to that move. Sadly, we moved to a different country just 7 months later, and without my move-related info I had to reinvent the wheel. Happily, we moved back to my favorite place a year and a half later, have now been here more than 5 years and have no intention of leaving!