Moving Checklists. Do they work?

moving checklist suck

This morning I did a simple Google search for the term moving checklist.   Like anything else, Google was happy to oblige and displayed nearly 4 million results. Almost every source, from Martha Stewart, several moving companies and real estate agents were offering their version of a moving checklist, so I decided to download a few of them to scope out how effective some of these checklists are.

The typical moving checklist is structured according to timelines.   Working backwards from your moving date, there are suggested activities and tasks for each time period and the expectation is that you check off these items as they get done.   While some of the tasks were pretty straight forward, such as contacting your utilities or forwarding your mail, most tasks were either so generic or abstract, that they either don’t apply, or even impossible to do.

One checklist I reviewed suggested tasks like planning where things will go in your new home one-month before the move. Another suggested letting the milkman know that you’re moving (really?).

Out of ten checklists that I reviewed, some were very detailed, while others were extremely generic and sounded almost like an infomercial.   Some made assumptions such as it was a local move, while others were sharing tips for cross-country moves.   Some included tips for moving with pets and kids, while some did not.

As I continued looking through pages and pages of checklists, I only grew frustrated. None of them were actually useful, although I suppose you can spend the time to take some snippets out of each one and create your own.

The one common theme of moving checklists is that they all left me with a similar feeling – overwhelmed.

The reason why checklists are good is simple: it’s easy for us to forget things. When you do something that involves multiple steps, it’s likely that you would forget one or two of them.  In the case of moving, where no two moves are alike, checklists are in fact pretty much useless.   You tend to focus more on checking things off the list than putting in the work needed to make your move go smooth.   They don’t fit into the flow of how things are done in real life and what happens when things get in the way of our scheduled tasks.

So as I think back to the almost 4 million moving checklists that are floating out there in cyberspace, is this really the best we can do, or is it time to ditch the checklist and start using new ways to manage our move and stay organized?




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