Some people unwind with cooking, a nice cocktail, or a good book. It’s probably no surprise to you that I unwind by organizing, finding ease and joy in making order out of chaos.
Since embarking on my journey as a professional organizer, I have designed and organized my apartment to delight and support me. And then this summer, as if sensing that I had done all I could do with my current space, the organizing gods sent me a new challenge.
I (ecstatically) took the leap and moved into a new home with my boyfriend, Matt. When we decided to take this step, my thoughts went to how great it would be to have so much time together and to build our life together, and so it took me a few weeks until the reality of the logistics set in.
But I’m a professional, right? I do this all day every day with other people, so doing it for myself should be a piece of cake, I thought.
Even though I’ve helped many couples move into together and transition to new spaces, being on the other end of it brought to light some new AH HA moments for me that I’d like to share with you.
1. Set priorities and intentions first. I knew exactly how I wanted everything, and it was important that our new home to look, feel, and function a certain way. Even more important, however, is that the new space be a reflection of each of us and a home for both of us. This meant getting really clear about what was important to each of us. It’s tempting to jump into the logistics (let’s bring your bed, my couch, and so on) but it’s essential that the first step be to clearly communicate what’s important to each person. If you’re thinking about sharing a space with another person, and especially if you already are, I invite you to have this conversation before embarking on organizing that space so that the work you do is in service of your shared priorities and vision.
2. Know that the plan will change. Those of you who know me know that I like to know what to expect and how everything will unfold. But the reality is that logistics are always more complicated and it always takes more time than you think. While much of my planning and vision for the new space came to fruition, many aspects needed to be shifted as the unpacking process unfolded. Going into the move counting on the fact that plans will change helps ease the stress and bumps along the way. And, note to future self: the changes that needed to be made are actually some of my favorite elements of the new space!
3. Build in extra time. Most organizers will tell you that organizing projects always take longer than you think it will. I heard one fellow organizer recently say that she always tells new clients to double the time they think a project will take. If you’re doing it right and spending your time intentionally setting up your space to support you, then you will try many versions until you find solutions for each space. Rarely is the first iteration what my client and I end up ultimately implementing. Expect that you’ll need some extra time, and give yourself permission to play around with different solutions until you find what works for you. I find post-it notes particularly helpful as place holders while the decision-making process unfold.
4. Check in Often. This is something I do periodically with my clients as our projects progress. Its easy to forget to do this with yourself, or your partner; however, It’s important to pause, go back to the priorities and intentions you set at the beginning, and course correct if needed. “Are you finding that you actually have enough closet space or should we re-distribute? ” “I know we’d planned to put the spices in the drawer, but since we’ve got so much cabinet space might it work better to put them on a turntable in a cabinet by the stove?” “I’m just now realizing that we completely forgot to figure out the hamper situation–what are your thoughts?”
5. It’s so worth it. On the other side of this, in our new home that is both reflection of and inspiration for both of us, it’s all worth it. While it didn’t unfold exactly as I thought it would, I will say that it was so satisfying and deeply meaningful to have gone through this process as my own client with Matt, experiencing the joy that comes with transforming a space into a home. Every bump along the way was an opportunity for us to be intentional and deliberate about the home and life we’re building together.
I invite you to consider one area in your space that you find challenging. How might addressing this area impact your peace of mind, quality of life, or daily functioning? How would your life be different if you tackled this area by setting priorities and intentions, knowing that the plan will change, building in extra time, checking in often, and knowing that it’s worth it? Let’s find out!