Thursday, February 03, 2011


When planning for any event, whether it be making a meal, planning a party or coordinating a move I like to make myself a timeline of must-do's.  This is very different from my to-do list that I posted earlier this week in two important ways.  First, it includes--at least initially--only the things that must be done.  Second, it is built backwards.

When I say it includes only the things that must be done I mean that I don't include any extras.  If I am planning a meal that means I would include on my must-do's make the roll dough (the night before), put the turkey in the oven (9am), bake the sweet potatoes (2:15), make the gravy (after the turkey is out of the oven), etc, but I would not include things like set the table, wash the dishes and put out place cards, those items would be fillers and could be done at any number of empty spots in the schedule.

If I were planning a party I would include send out invitations (3 weeks prior), order the cake (1 week prior), make reservations at the restaurant (4-6 weeks prior) on my must-do list.  Things like purchase balloons, party favors and gifts would be relegated to the to-do list because they don't have as strict a timeline, they just have to be done sometime before the party.

Once I've got my list of must-do's pinned down I like to build my timeline backwards.  In this way I am starting with my goal in mind.  I want to have Thanksgiving dinner served and on the table at 3pm which means that the sweet potatoes need to be out of the oven at 2:45 and in the oven at 2:15.  This means that the Turkey has to be out of the oven no later than 2:10 which means it must go in the oven no later than 9:30am.  If the turkey goes in at 9:30 then the rolls have to be done cooking by 9am which means they must raise overnight in the refrigerator and the first sheet must go in the oven at 8am. This then leaves me to conclude that the roll dough must be made and shaped the night before and the pies must be baked before that.

A backwards time line for party planning will be much the same.  If I want to have a party on the 11th of March I must first contact my restaurant of choice 4-6 weeks ahead of time (some places may need more lead time especially for large parties) to make sure there is availability for a party on that night.  Once I get the reservations I can send out the invitations and my guests will need at least 3 weeks of notice to arrange their schedules accordingly.  I think you see how this is going right?

Planning a move is no different than planning a meal, a party or any event.  It requires forethought, organization and a lot of work.I have already written out a to-do list and have now highlighted my must-do's.  I have my goal in sight and write a timeline backwards with my goal on the top.  Here it is:

June 30th--fly to Hawaii
June 27th--Last Day of School for kids
June 3-4th--Final moving sale of all furnishings and other stuff that did not get shipped off.
May 31st--Ship belongings to Hawaii via ocean freight (takes 4-6 weeks to arrive at destination)
May 26th--move in with family (parents. I know I haven't asked yet mom but would that be ok?)
May 16th--Dave starts work at BYU-H
May 13th--Dave leaves for Hawaii
March 1st--For Sale sign goes up on house.  In September the average house sat on the market for 141 days before selling.  That means if the market is stable and predictable--which it is not--that my house can expect to stay on the market until August.  I'd like to have it sold and closed by June 1st or sooner. To increase my chances of a quick sale I must have the house in top notch condition (a lot of prayer might help too!).

Now to squeeze all my to-do's in to the timeline is a little more tricky.  Most of my to-do's must be done before the for-sale sign goes up 3.5 weeks from now. Once that sign goes up I can calm down for a couple months and concentrate on keeping the house in show condition and packing things up.  During those two months I will be making our travel arrangements, assembling important documents, transferring bank accounts and the like.

In the event that the house sells really quick (hallelujah!) we will fast track the move and my whole timeline will be screwed up.  If it comes to that I'll have to reevaluate and re-do my timeline. That would be a complication I'd love to have. Please pray for a quick sale of my house!

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