Moving into a new house or apartment is stressful enough. But when you work from home, and you’re moving both your household and your home office, things get a whole lot hairier, as I discovered during my own move earlier this summer. It’s been a few weeks, and things are finally (!) starting to settle down and I’m getting settled in my new home.
Here are some of the strategies I picked up during my recent move:
Work (and Plan) Ahead
As much as possible, I tried to anticipate the projects I had coming up around the time of my move and complete them early. Depending on the relationship with the client, I might send it in early to wow them or hold off to give myself more time to proofread and polish the assignment. And for the sake of my sanity, I tried not to schedule any important deadlines close to my moving date. Packing and repainting is stressful enough without worrying about missed deadlines! I also made sure to schedule my wifi installation at the earliest opportunity so I wouldn’t be stuck without internet for long.
Keep Your Clients or Customers Informed
Obviously, if you have people snail mailing checks or other important documents to your home, you’ll want to alert them well in advance of your move and file a change of address form with the post office. This also gives you an excuse to reconnect with clients and see if they might have any projects coming up before or after your move. If you anticipate being unavailable for more than a day or two, then let your clients know and try to find a trusted colleague who can cover for you if necessary. Some people also include effective dates and new addresses in their email signature (for safety reasons, I only give out my address by request). If you’re worried about things getting lost between the old and new address, you can also set up a PO box to ease the transition. Since I had some overlap between my old and new place, I was able to go back to my previous apartment and check the mailbox one last time for peace of mind.
Most of us have extra home office equipment or supplies lying around that we don’t really need. Ditto on miscellaneous paperwork, magazines, and so on. Moving is a great opportunity to purge the excess stuff and set up your new space so it’s organized and tidy (not to mention that if you’re moving yourself, you’ll appreciate fewer boxes to carry). I sold a bunch of items on Craigslist so I could buy newer, nicer versions of the things I really need and say sayonara to the rest. Freecycle is also an option for people who have random home office supplies or old computer equipment they don’t need.
Label Office Essentials Carefully
When it comes to packing, the usual wisdom is to pack each room separately and label each box carefully. But the reality is that most of us pack in stages (or we find ourselves frantically throwing stuff into boxes at 2am the night before the movers arrive). I wanted to cram as much as could safely fit into each box, so if there was a hairdryer-sized space left in a box of books, I’d pack that baby with the books (after all, it’s all going the same place). The one exception was my office. The contents of my desk were packed last and lovingly labeled “Susan’s Office” so I could quickly find them later.
Prioritize Your Unpacking
Sure, it’d be nice to immediately find places for my colander or my cream-colored shift dress. But each time I’ve moved, my goal has been to minimize downtime, so I set up my bed (after all, a girl’s gotta her beauty sleep or she’ll be too groggy to please her clients) and office areas early on. First order of business? My laptop and printer/scanner. I also make sure I know where to find extra printer paper, business cards, pens, and paper clips so I don’t waste money buying extras. Even if your laptop is propped up on big brown boxes and your office supplies are stashed in a Tupperware container because you’re waiting for your brand new desk to be delivered, clients will never know the difference. If you’re one of those people who truly can’t work amidst chaos, then you might want to work in a coffee shop or a coworking space in your new neighborhood. That’ll come in handy as you get settled, too.
What about you? Have you moved recently or are you gearing up to relocate? How did you handle this situation?