As a teenager or college student, it was all so simple. Move out of your dorm on Friday and start your summer job on Monday. Work all summer before moving back to campus, then start work study around the same time that classes begin. All the steps of life had their proper order and compartments. Now? It feels like each life event has to be weighed against that 40 hours work week (well, 40 hours if you're lucky).
Life events – including big moves – don’t actually accommodate our relentless work schedules. We often find ourselves asking: is it worth taking vacation? Is it worth taking a sick day? Can I “work from home?” Whether your new job starts before your new lease does, or you just bought your dream house while also in the midst of climbing the corporate ladder, there is hope! I have completed this tricky balance several times over, and I am here to tell you that you can do it. Here's exactly what to do – and what not to do – during your big mid-work move.
What to Do
1. Be honest with your employer(s).
If you want somebody to cut you some slack, you’ve got to keep them in the know about your life. Otherwise, they’ll just keep piling on the work. Even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first – trust me, I’m the queen of keeping my life hush-hush at the office – you’ll feel better once your boss knows that you’re about to make a significant, tiring, and time-sucking life change.
2. Get a calendar.
Even if you’re usually an unorganized person, keeping a steady and accurate schedule will help you during these crazy days of moving. For bonus points, loop your partner into your Google calendar or keep a printed copy at home so you know where each person is located, and when or where each person is working at any given time. This will help you avoid fights about whose responsibility it was to pick up more moving boxes or who was on a webinar when the storage pod team showed up. Yes, these are things you will have to consider.
3. Remember that moving is a legitimate life event.
One of the things that I struggled with most during my recent move was an overwhelming feeling of guilt. I didn’t want to put any projects on hold or take longer than usual to reply to emails. In reality, I did end up putting some things on the backburner and just dropping others. And you know what? It all turned out A-Okay. I wasn’t fired. I wasn’t yelled at. The world kept turning. And when my partner had put together my desk, we got the Wi-Fi turned on, and I suddenly had more time on my hands? My work was still there, right where I had left it, ready to be picked back up.
What Not to Do
4. Do not try to mix work time with moving time.
I learned this very early on in my normal career and moving career. You might think it makes sense to “do a little packing” over your lunch break or during a pause in work, but a little packing inevitably turns into trying to put the entire bathroom into a collection of boxes. I promise you will become consumed with some moving tasks. Just let it happen. Do not—even for one moment—think that you will be able to jump back and forth.
You are going to need to establish some boundaries. Maybe you work in the morning and do moving tasks in the afternoon. Perhaps you take one day a week to work on moving. Whatever schedule works for you, and take hold of it. Because the moment you realize that your entire jewelry collection needs to be organized before you can move, you will be hours away from your work email, elbows-deep in earring backs, gleefully sifting through silver & gold memories. I have been here. Don’t let it happen to you. Stick to a schedule.
5. Don’t neglect planning.
When a friend asks for moving help in advance, I can reasonably plan to show up with my hatchback and get to work. But if they ask a day or so before? I have my own life and schedule. Most people are going to be the same way. If you are balancing moving with work, be sure to plan out your “asks” ahead of time. Need boxes? Need to borrow a friend’s pickup? Want someone to watch the kids while you do the heavy lifting? Those requests can (and should) be made ASAP. Otherwise, you run the risk of being caught in a lurch on the one or two days you have to complete your move. You definitely don’t want the move to take longer than usual, because you’ll be forced to dip into vacation and personal days or take unpaid time.
Balancing work and moving takes a ton of forethought and planning, but I believe it also demands flexibility. Projects (and objects) will get dropped. Things will not go as planned. Friends will flake out, the moving truck will look too small, and you will not be able to find any clean underwear, at least for a little while. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel: eventually, moving will end! Finally, you’ll be able to slip back into routines, establish a new daily flow, and breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that you were able to successfully keep your job, as well as your cool, during the move.