Have you recently decided to declutter or downsize your home? Are you starting to realise what a huge undertaking it is? Do you feel like you have 1001 things to do and your head is spinning. In this blog I explain how I used business change tools to help me plan and organise the move. This kept me calm and it may be of help to others.
I hadn’t moved house for 30 years, and until a year ago I had no particular plans to declutter or downsize my home. In Part 1 of this blog I introduced my thinking around downsizing, and summarised the process through a two-minute video.
Part 2 of my blog captured some of the available research about downsizing. I learned more about the wider benefits of downsizing, for the benefit of society and the economy, shared this in Part 2.
Part 3 described the nine key reasons that helped me decide why, when and how to downsize my home.
This part, Part 4 of my series of Downsizing blogs describes how I used business change approaches like Project Management and Lewin’s Model of Change, to declutter and downsize as effectively and painlessly as possible. Once I’d made the decision to downsize, I had to manage my fears and my wellbeing, by being organised and pragmatic about the process. After all, it would take twelve months out of my life. I didn’t want to look back on 2019 with any regrets. Life is precious, and increasingly so as the years march on.
So – for my Downsizing project, I did a lot of planning, prioritising, streamlining, organising before the ‘doing’. Here’s a list of the tools I applied to help me with all this, and a description of how they can help follows.
List of Change Management tools
- Project management
- Lewin’s Model of change
- Change Equation
This part explores how I used the principles of Project Management and a Change Model to help me plan and prepare for downsizing my home.
I wanted to think through the huge list of activities for the next twelve months, and organise them into different themes, each with their own timescales. At the same time, I needed to ensure everything I did supported my overall goals, was manageable in the timescale, and took into account any physical or other potential issues.
What is a project?
In other words, I needed to treat my move as a business project, to ensure everything ran smoothly. So what is the definition of a project?
“a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.”
Association for Project Management
There are many components within large business change projects. These include planning, stakeholder engagement, communication, tracking, risks & issues, and lessons learned. While I didn’t need that level of detail for my personal life-change, it was useful to structure my thinking, using project management principles, including planning and prioritising activities.
Why do you need a plan?
The planning process is a vital first stage of successful project management.
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Dwight D Eisenhower.
This disciplined approach definitely helped me to avoid getting overwhelmed. So, instead of a long, random list of everything I had to do, on scraps of paper or sticky notes, I developed a realistic action plan, with activities in date order, depending on:
- how urgent they were
- how long they’d take to complete
- how much they affected progress of other activities
My priority was to review and respond to the many emails and information requirements on the online conveyancing portal each day.
While I wanted to replace the kitchen and bathroom in the new house, I knew a delay to this activity wouldn’t impact on the moving date. I therefore started to plan this refit, but only as other priorities allowed.
I also divided the activities into key themes. In business it helps to divide or group activities into manageable portions, that can be delegated to different teams leaders. Similarly, it helped me to deal with the myriad activities and tasks by chunking them up like this. So, my action plan had headings like Decluttering, Conveyancing, Removals, Change of Address lists, Packing, and Renovations.
Activities & tasks
For Decluttering, I had sub-headings of activities like recycling, advertising, and store (in new garage).
To keep track of low level detail, like phone numbers, decorators, and replacement appliances, I wrote everything in one notebook.
Tasks that I didn’t do on time were coloured red and re-scheduled until I completed them. I regularly reviewed the plan to ensure it was a living document, not just a piece of paper gathering dust.
Kurt Lewin’s model of change
Kurt Lewin developed this helpful way of thinking about change in 1947. His Change Management Model is a simple and easy-to-understand framework for managing business change. It describes three essential stages – ‘Unfreeze / Change / Refreeze. Change needs a recognizable beginning and an end in order for it to be successful.
Unfreezing. You start by creating the motivation to change, providing the right amount of time and communication to unfreeze the comfort of the status quo.
For example, I was a coach on a large organisational merger programme some years previously. Positive messaging about the creation of a brand new organisation was not being well-received. There was resistance, and a reluctance to consider the potential benefits of the merger.
The negativity had been caused in part, because there hadn’t been an unfreezing phase. People hadn’t formally recognised the closure of the old business organisations. These had given people training, careers, and financial security. Yet it felt like they were being swept out in favour of something unconnected and unfamiliar. Consequently people felt strong emotions – finding it difficult to let go. This was similar to a grieving process, when closure hasn’t been possible.
I used my understanding of the need to unfreeze, to defer the move until the New Year, and enjoyed one last Christmas in my old home. I also took photos of every room, and even said goodbye to the house, room by room on the day. I was super-organised on the day of the move which reduced ancillary stress. As I locked the door for the last time, my tears were manageable. I’d said my goodbyes – and this opened me up to the future.
Detaching myself from the old situation like this helped me accept that it would be a while before I recreated the new situation. And that it was a big deal.
Change. In organisations, change is accomplished by promoting effective communications and empowering people to embrace new ways of working. In a personal situation, change happens when people get themselves prepared. Preparation can include making decisions, planning, adjusting the mindset to the idea, and turning ideas into reality.
Refreeze. The process ends when you return the organization to a new sense of stability. The changes become business as normal and new ways of working, including new team structures are embedded.
As I write this blog, I realised I’ve entered the Refreeeze phase, one year after I actually moved house. Things are going back to normal – except it will never be quite the same. The house is much smaller, newer, more practical. I’ve gone retro, a bit minimalist. However it’s still my homemaking, got my stamp on it. People say its relaxing, that I should be an interior designer. (Aren’t friends nice?)
To signify this Refreezing phase I celebrated my ‘anniversary’, by having friends round, and relaxing for once. Psychologically, it really helps to make progress and move on by marking significant milestones in this way. Think weddings, special birthdays, lives passed …..
Further information about business change approaches
If you are considering decluttering and downsizing your home, or other big life-choices and need more information, please get in touch. I have enough for a book!
If you want to know more about project management here’s a link from Smartsheet.com. I like this as it simplifies the science and includes some clear visuals.
For more on the decision-making process, there are some very simple yet effective tools, which help leaders, people, groups or teams to come up with pros and cons of potential change. These include ‘Like and Must, Hopes and Fears, and MOSCOW.
My next and final blog in this Downsizing series describes how I used the other two tools listed above – the Change Equation and 5S (Sift, Sort, Sweep, Standardise, Sustain).
If you are interested in learning more about business tools for change, or to support you with individual change, please contact us at https://losethebox.co.uk, phone us on 07824 660120, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck in your change endeavours, whether downsizing, other life-changes, or business change.