I was in a huge mess before I left home. I had tons of things to do and things were falling through the cracks. I couldn’t manage everything, and instead of elevating stress and trying to accomplish EVERYTHING, I focused on the essentials.
You’ve heard me before stating that systems can bring more harm than good, but that is only the case when you are in your usual routine and don’t have too many urgent things going on in your life.
When you’re packing for a life on a whole new continent, a lot of things have to be done right. And you can’t just do it based on routines. Routines aren’t good for ad-hoc tasks, that happens on and off all the time.
Routines are helpful when you are in the routine. When “maintain the status quo” is your main goal. But life isn’t always as simple as I try to make it, hence I need to use the tools that allow me to excel at the tasks I want to get done.
How systems helped me this time?
The number of tasks I had in front of me was too much for my mind to cope with. My usual day consists of following up with 6-7 habits, every day, and it was pre-planned in and of itself. But the days before I made my big move, they were much more complicated than recurring tasks I hold in my Omnifocus…
For this occasion, lists and prioritization made perfect sense. This time I made a project list, and I prioritized. When you have a clear picture of what needs to get done, you become realistic about what you can and can’t do.
Priotiziation comes easy: you dive into your list, and you pick and choose tasks that matter. In a sense, I was still practicing minimalism here, because I made a conscious decision that some things would be skipped.
It brought me to the bare bone and returned sanity into the whole mess of multiple tasks that I simply wouldn’t be able to get done. Let me give you an example…
How the list made a lot of sense
First of all, I had some free time immediately after my return from Greece, so it left me with two and a half days worth of time to do a lot of things. On Monday, I didn’t have much to do, but I made sure I did everything I could, that wasn’t time sensitive. This way I completely avoided the last-minute freakout.
Packing my stuff first, getting the money exchanged into dollars, canceling my phone and internet subscription. Did all of those two days ahead. Now, I could focus on all the social aspects of saying goodbye to all of my friends, instead of thinking did I forget something?
Peace of mind
Forcing myself on completing the necessity list, even before time, made me relax, and take things slowly. If I tried to maintain my usual routines and habits, I would remain under a lot of stress. I’ve freed up time but conciously deciding to skip the quadrant two, (non-urgent, important), and focusing on quadrant one (urgent and important).
Going to the gym the day before you leave, might leave you stressed out. Hence I decided to skip it and make more time for bigger priorities.
When I landed
When I landed, everything was in the Groove. Keeping a list, more or less organized, still helped me recover some sanity. The only time when I could rest was when I was going to sleep. And honestly, I am again in a rushed state, as I have a whole new set of private problems that emerged out of all of this.
Having a simple piece of paper is way better than nothing at all. In all of this, my iPhone and Evernote proved to be powerful allies. Snapping photos, and saving them in the main notebook, proved to be a lifesaver.
Everything worth storing, from my documents to my immigration, either got stored in Evernote or in 1Password (if it was sensitive data). OmniFocus held all the things that had to be done, and my digital anatomy gave me enough strength to muscle out the overwhelm.
Apple maps work insanely good in Chicago, and they were my guide through the city. It helped me in such a way, that I’ve felt like I’ve always been from around here.
My trans-Atlantic immigration journey was eased up by technology big time, and in particular by the iPhone. iPad was also a worthy writing companion, and a piece of tech that helped me utilize its mobility, battery life. I coupled it with Bluetooth keyboard to simulate the laptop writing experience, and thanks to Darren, who did the publishing side, and internal linking, these articles came to full life.
I am still far from completing my settling down process. But I won’t keep you out in the dark. With new times come new challenges, and I’ll be sharing all the things that worked for me. Stay tuned…