Lessons learned from packing up my house, Part 2- Why does everything take so long?

Lessons learned from packing up my house, Part 2- Why does everything take so long?

In my last letter to you, I shared one of the lessons I’d learned from packing up my house.  I told you my secret, that even the organizer owns too much stuff. Today, I’m sharing lesson #2: It always takes longer than you think!

I enjoy creating schedules because it gives my clients (and myself) a sense of what to expect. By knowing when I’m seeing clients, or going to yoga or having family dinner I can relax a part of my brain that holds those as necessary activities. It allows me to drop into a moment and be, knowing that whatever’s next is already set up.

I also get a certain thrill from occasionally throwing my schedule to the curb and flying by the seat of my pants. I find this healthy AND easy….. because I know the patterns and habits and regularity I’ve created will be there when I’m through throwing caution to the wind.

And with scheduling comes another skill: predicting how long things will take. When we schedule out steps for a project or a meeting, it can be hard to know how long something will take (especially if we’ve never done it before). I’ve gotten better at this over time. I can generally predict how long it’ll take to set up a filing system or clean out a family room by looking at it, but there’s always the human element, the process by which we make decisions. And some of us are faster at it than other.

But there’s one universal truth when it comes to completing projects: It takes longer than you think.

I was reminded of this last month as I packed up my house.

I had already cleaned out closets, kids clothes, the kitchen and my office in the months prior to this move. I knew that I didn’t want to be purging during packing time. However, there was still so many things when I went to pack that didn’t pass the “Am I going to be excited to unpack this?” test that it took hours longer than I planned.

I was prepared as I began packing each room. I had the boxes, tape, packing material plus, a bag for garbage, a box for recycling, and bags for donations. Yet, I quickly discovered that packing up my own stuff was going to take longer than doing it for a client. I went through everything I packed because I’m not storing anything that I don’t love. I also had the added challenge of figuring out what I would need over the next many months in temporary housing and putting these items into bins instead of boxes for easier access.

Once I got my rhythm going and I’d done a couple afternoons of packing and purging, I could tell how long it would take- basically every last minute I had until I needed to be out. And that’s the universal rule- it’s going to take longer than we expect. I think this is true partly from a desire for things to happen quickly and partly because the unknown arises. There’s always glitches, and unexpected tasks that arise from any project. This reminded me that adding 10-20% extra time for any new activity is a safe way to allow for the buffer time I didn’t have with packing this time.

And now that everything’s packed and we’re embark on the deconstruction and reconstruction of our home, I’ll keep reminding myself that things will take longer than expected (and I’ll try to be patient about it too.)

With fall comes a shift in energy, a change in the light and for many new schedules with school and sports starting. Setting up the perfect rhythm to your days and months can be critical to creating the harmony needed to stay healthy and happy well into the winter. I’d be honored to help you bring that harmony into your life. I’m taking on two 1:1 clients for the Fall. (My client availability is limited this fall and winter because I’m managing my home construction project.)  Email me today to explore whether working together will create a harmonious life this fall and winter. In addition, I’m also scheduling clients who want on-site organizing support for the winter. If you’ve got disorganized spaces you’ve wanted to tackle in your home or office for awhile, lets talk and get you on my schedule for the winter NOW.