Here’s the next fantastic interview in my series of interviews with Professionals Organisers – I hope you’re enjoying them and finding out a few new things from a different perspective – I know I am!
Todays chat is with Caroline Rogers, a Professional Organiser who runs her own business (Room to Think), and who is also a member of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers here in the UK (apdo-uk).
Caroline works on all aspects of organising, from paperwork and wardrobes to time management, and she can also help with the changes that happen due to major life events like bereavement and separation. One of these life events I decided to pick her brains about today was moving house.
Moving house can be an organising nightmare, with lots of stresses and strains to cope with on top of our already busy lives. Because of this, bringing in the help of a professional – or picking their brains for some tips and tricks – is a great place to start, so without further ado, let’s get going and pick up a few tips for next time you are moving house!
What are the main things to get organised when you move house?
“Moving home is project management – you’ve probably done it before when planning a party, a wedding or a work event. Remember the skills you used and what you were good at or liked doing – delegate the tasks that daunt you to someone who’ll relish them.
Start by getting organised in your head: plan, budget, identify who’s on your ‘team’ and book dates in their diaries.
Be as realistic as you can and be prepared to spend more time and more money than you’re considering now. If there’s any left over, it’ll be a bonus”
What are the real no-no’s you have to steer clear of when preparing to move house?
“If it involves a contract, my advice would be to choose any weekday except a Friday to move.
Fridays are tempting because they lead naturally into the weekend, but trust me, I know from experience that contracts sometimes don’t complete. These things are so much easier to resolve if the solicitors are back at their desks the next day.
Also – stop shopping unless it’s absolutely necessary. Use the food in the cupboards and freezer. Every item you buy between now and your moving day is another decision to be made and another thing to be packed”
How would you help a client to move house? What’s the process?
“Like most of my Professional Organiser projects there’s a menu for clients to pick and choose from. The process is completely geared to the client’s individual circumstances. It’s a confidential service, without judgement and clients always enjoy the time we spend together and feel better for it.
Sometimes I work with a client on a weekly basis over the period of months surrounding their moving day. Other times we have a couple of decluttering and organising days with the possibility of a few check-ins on the phone or by Skype.
Sometimes I’ve been employed just for moving day itself, just for the planning and logistics part (face to face or by Skype) and I’ve also been employed only to get the current home looking good in those Estate Agent photos (Home Staging).
It’s flexible, but here’s a list of the kind of services available:-
Before a move:
- Planning and organising the logistics of the whole operation – a timetable/work plan of what to get done, by when and by whom.
- Organising & decluttering your current home so it looks good in the Agents’ photos and is easier to pack, help with packing.
- Helping with decisions about what furniture to take and decisions about what to do with furniture that won’t be taken. This also goes for clothes, books, nick-nacks; all your possessions!
- Suggesting systems that appeal to you for packing and labeling. Your belongings need to end up in the room or space you’ll need them. It’s amazing what we suddenly want to lay our hands on after we’ve moved (a client who moved just as her child started a new school was very relieved to know exactly which unopened box among a stack of about 50 contained the name labels for the new school uniform).
- Assisting in decisions around storage, recommendations of removal firms and builders.
- Liaising with agents, solicitors, buyers, surveyors, removal firms, storage firms….
- Helping in negotiating with the people you live with (and people you don’t!) on issues connected with your move
On the day:
- Being a professional ally to project manage the whole day and leave you as comfortable as your individual circumstances allow in your new home at the end of it
After the move:
- Assisting in unpacking and organising your home so it works for you.
- Arranging for the removal of all packing materials
When organising a house move for a client, do you have a backup plan if things go wrong i.e. if they don’t exchange on the day, or removals break down etc….?
“Moving’s a bit like having your wisdom teeth taken out or giving birth – everyone relishes telling the disaster stories! Ask any removals firm or a Professional Organiser and you’ll hear loads to do with moving.
Once a very keen removal company packed my own bike in the van – it was securely locked to the railings of my client’s house, but they took it apart, wrapped it up and packed it up with the rest of the family bikes!
The more planning I get to do with my clients in the lead up to the move, the smoother it is.
It’ll mean we’ll have a strategy for how to deal with pets, regular medication, items of value to the client, food and drink on the day etc. I’ve worked with people who’ve experienced some very challenging unforeseen problems during the moving process; contracts not completing on the day, lorries getting stuck in traffic, clients losing keys, the buyer wanting access before the contract is complete or changing their mind about ‘handshake agreements’ not in the contract.
You can’t predict some things beyond our control, but we do have the choice about our response. In my experience every unprecedented ‘disaster’ is both survivable and resolvable.
Mostly, in retrospect, they end up as humorous anecdotes for the client to relate next time a friend tells her they’re moving. My role is to act 100% in the client’s best interest – a lot of Professional Organiser work involves coming up with creative solutions and helping to put things into perspective”.
Do you recommend packing yourself or getting the removals company to do it for you?
“Removals firms are good at packing and they’re fast. It’s like everything – there’s a method to it and they’re practiced at it (as are Professional Organisers). As such they are a great choice for packing, with a few things kept in mind:-
I’d only recommend someone else to pack for you if everything they’re being asked to pack is already organised and everything you don’t want has already been weeded out.
The good thing about packing for yourself is you can do it gradually in the months leading up to your move.
It gives you time to really consider what it is you’re packing, whether you really want to take it with you and where you want it put when you arrive. Also, seeing a neat stack of clearly labeled boxes in a corner gives a positive message to your buyers and tells them you’re serious about moving”.
What are your top tips on unpacking once you arrive at your new home?
“We go right to the bottom layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs! (i.e eating, breathing, sleeping etc..)
On moving day itself I’d advise prioritising unpacking enough so you’re able to eat, have a bit of downtime (watch telly/ read a book), sleep and then get washed, dressed and eat breakfast the next day.
I’d also advise being extremely kind to yourself over the next few days. This means pacing yourself and not trying to get everything done immediately. What you’ve just been through is exhausting and it’s good to take a bit of time to find your feet in your new home and neighbourhood.
It’s also useful to live in a place a bit and let it tell you where you want to put things – your systems in this new place are likely to differ slightly from those in your last one.”
Why would a client use a Professional Organiser to help them move?
“I think that if you can allocate an additional couple of thousand to your moving budget – about as much as you’d pay a solicitor for the conveyancing – you’re buying a smoother, happier move.
Compared to all the other moving costs it’s minimal. If you get an Organiser in before you put your house on the market and put a bit of time in I really do believe you get more money for it.
If you haven’t got that much in your budget but can find enough for just a planning hour or a few sessions, you’ll feel happier and clearer about the whole operation.
Conveyancing brings the worst out in all of us and moving is stressful. We can’t change any of that, but like I said before, we can choose how we respond to it.
Paying a Professional Organiser is different to asking a friend to help you – you don’t have to worry about their well being, they know what they’re doing, they have masses of experience and creative ideas and their priority will consistently be to find methods that work for you, help you focus and keep your spirits up.”
Thanks so much Caroline – as a last question, do you have a top tip to share with the readers about getting organised in general?
“I’ve got loads!
I think the two I employ most in my own home are to open the post by the recycling bin, and to clear the kitchen sink while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil.
My top moving tip is to make sure you have clean bed linen the day before you move and the last lot washed and packed. Take a big empty moving box with you to your bed the night before you move. On waking, undress your night things and dressing gown into the box and put all your bedding in it, along with the book you’re reading and anything else you always have by your bedside. You could even throw in a bag of toiletries (but NOT regular medication – keep that in your day pack/handbag). That box, if properly labeled, will then miraculously arrive by your bed in your new home, ready for you to unpack onto your bed and snuggle down comfortably that night.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed todays interview, if you want to learn more from Caroline why not check out her website at http://www.roomtothink.net”