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My partner and I were planning this relocation for years. It was our shared dream to try and live in another country. As children of immigrants, we already have experienced this once, but this still seemed like a very bold idea that we wanted to turn into reality by ourselves.
My partner is a scientist, and as such, the apparent path for her, after completing her Ph.D., is to pursue the academic career and search for a Post-doctoral position in one of the finest institutions in the world. This is a very unique and privileged situation, not many have to their disposal. Being able to choose any location in the WORLD… Imagine you can spin the globe and pinpoint to any location, and simply go there. It’s like having the whole world at your fingertips, or at least we thought so, at first.
Of course, like any fantasy, the reality is very different. To make a long story short, eventually, the decision was pretty easy, because my partner got into Harvard, and you don’t say no to Harvard... It became my new slogan, my moto in the past six months.
That’s when sh**t started to get real. We needed to plan a self relocation to Boston, MA. And to complete it by the end of 2019. A great way to start the new decade!
So, being a control freak, I immediately started making lists. Lists of tasks, things we need to sell, things we should take with us, and other things we should leave behind. I have also joined different communities that support people in relocation, and they happily shared their advice and their lists. So I had more lists I needed to review and merge into my lists.
That’s the inside of my brain function at that time:
Then a brilliant idea struck me one time while I was in the shower… Yes, it’s a cliche, I know, but it’s a great place for ideas.
I should use Trello to manage all my lists! Excel is OUT, Trello is IN! And to think that this idea has gotten to me that late… I’m actually pretty ashamed of myself about that, being an Atlassian expert and living and breathing the Atlassian ecosystem. But, no matter. The important thing is that now I have a plan! I feel confident in my power to complete what once looked like an impossible mission!
Without further ado, I logged into my Trello account. I haven’t really used Trello for something meaningful up until that point, but the UI is pretty straight forward. It seems like everything’s possible at first. I was so used to Jira boards that at first, it actually bothered me. I felt I’m not open-minded enough, and I can’t really see what the tool has to offer because of my limited vision. So I turned to Dr. Google and searched for other’s public boards. Eventually, I’ve created four boards that my partner and I used to manage all relocation-related tasks. My endless excel was finally dead.
My four boards are:
As this is basically a self relocation, and we are paying for this move from our own pocket, we decided to avoid sending our stuff in boxes and settle with 2 suitcases per person - a very ambitious plan. My lists will have to be as tight and concrete as possible.
I used each list to accommodate an idea. For example, in the Pack list, each list represented a suitcase (yes, I’ve labeled them too), and each card had a short summary of the content. That way, when we arrived, I could search for a specific item I needed on my Trello board, and I immediately knew which suitcase I should look into. It might sound a little excessive to some, I know, but this was a total lifesaver when I was actually looking for a specific doll my daughter couldn’t let go of and was crying about all day.
On the Relocation ToDo list, each column also represented a different topic or place. For example, I had a separate list for all finance and tax-related tasks, because it was a massive milestone we both needed to overcome. Other lists were less concise and contained tasks for BEFORE we leave, and AFTER we arrive.
I used labels as statuses, as their colors are displayed on the cards, and you can get a quick at-a-glance look of the board with easily distinctive colors that indicate status. I used green for done, yellow for in progress, and blue for canceled. No color means the task still hasn’t started.
Additionally, I used the due date field if some tasks had a deadline. I’ve also set up a team for myself and my partner so we could easily share the board and assigned tasks to each other. We worked as a typical support team. Whenever one of us completed a task, she could look at the tasks that still had no status and choose one by assigning it to herself.
Keeping the board up to date is the key to the game. Any new idea, piece of information, or task were immediately tagged and documented under the relevant list, card, or board. That way, when we actually needed the information, we used the search function on our Trello app on our phones. It is that easy and available!
Another handy feature was the checklists. It helped to break large tasks into more manageable smaller tasks and also helped to keep the massive task organized. Are you familiar with this feeling when you have so much to do you feel you could explode? The mind works like it’s on steroids, and the thoughts are faster than what you can keep up with. When it felt like that, I knew I needed to use checklists to break down the larger idea to more manageable pieces, so I could keep up with it. Also, checking it out when the task is finished is one of the most satisfying actions one can imagine.
But the board that gives me the most pride is the Yard sale board I used to tag all our stuff we needed to sell or give away. I created lists per room or topic, like kids’ stuff, furniture, appliances, and more. I added a card per piece, with photos and prices. I made it public and sent the link to all our friends and family. Whenever someone told me they are interested in something, I labeled the card. That way, the rest could also see what’s still available and what was already reserved or sold. This board basically ran itself. Eventually, on the day of the move, people came by and picked up the stuff they had reserved for themselves.
Now, when we’re here, and I don’t have any large projects on my mind yet, I’ve started building my 2020 Goals board. Everyone is welcome to help me out with ideas for new adventures for this year.
For now, I’m still getting used to this view...