How many times have you entered “Sydney” or “Australia” into Google today?
Hmmm, I have a feeling that just might be the reason why you’re feeling overwhelmed. It certainly was for me.
I remember back in 2008 when we were moving to Sydney, I was endlessly searching for anything I could find on Sydney. It was a daily obsession.
I often ended up lost down a Google rabbit hole reading about the best neighbourhoods in Sydney for expats new to the city or the best restaurants to get brunch.
We hadn’t even started packing yet and I was already planning our first Sunday brunch. How’s that for priorities for ya. :-)
Finding something useful for our move, not to mention up-to-date, was like finding internet gold.
When I did find a piece of Google gold, I would select and copy the whole article, then paste it into an email that I would send to myself and CC’d my husband.
Worst idea EVER!
We ended up with a ton of emails with subject lines like “Check out this Apartment in Newtown” but the replies in the email thread that followed had info that I had copied and pasted from the Australian Immigration Website or Time Out Sydney because neither of us had bothered to change the subject line. Just kept hitting reply.
What a mess, not to mention a massive waste of time. Emails full of information that we would never see again, lost in the inbox. What a waste of time.
What was even worse was we actually needed that info from the immigration site to complete our visa application.
“What email was that? What was the subject line? The one about the Newtown apartment? What does that have to do with where to get our chest X-rays done? Are you sure?”
What the heck were we thinking?
We were so disorganised and scattered at a time when we really couldn’t afford to be. We had a ton of things that needed to get done like NOW. I certainly didn’t have time to waste online planning where to go for Sunday brunch.
Why was I so out of it?
I was suffering from Expat ADD.
Symptoms of Expat ADD:
- Due to overwhelming excitement, will often be found obsessively Googling destination of relocation.
- Often has trouble sleeping due to repeatedly thinking of worst-case scenarios. May also have very odd dreams about kangaroos getting into the kitchen through the cat door. (No? Just me?)
- Inability to focus due to information overload from symptom #1 and lack of sleep from symptom #2.
The only sure way to combat Expat ADD is to GET ORGANISED.
Obviously, our system of emailing was a complete failure. But we learned something very important.
The inbox was not meant for saving for a later date. Instead, it’s the land of lost apartment viewings and lists of where the best eggs benedict is in Sydney.
Are you spending a lot of time online researching and Googling everything you can about Sydney and Australia?
Bookmarking everything you find? How many to-do list do you have? Got any on the fridge yet?
The truth is, an international relocation is a huge undertaking and the good old fashion pen and paper to-do list is not going to cut it this time. Not when Google is your main go-to research tool.
Instead, you need a way to store information as you find it and, even more importantly, do it with just a click of your mouse or tap on your phone.
You also need to have all that information somewhere where you can access it easily and share it with your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend or Santa Claus without starting an email thread that is going to clog your inbox.
I got three apps to help you out.
Three Apps to Help Organize Your Move to Australia
These apps are: free and easy to use, you can access them from your desktop, phone or tablet and you can share what you have saved with others effortlessly.
Some have more complicated features but for now you don’t have to worry about getting too complicated. You have enough on your plate right now. Let’s keep things simple.
Ok, so you’ve probably already heard of Pinterest, but I wanted to include it here because it fits the bill perfectly.
It’s free and super easy to use on your desktop, phone or tablet. For sharing, you can create group boards so that whoever else is moving with you can also pin to your group board.
You can also make group boards secret if you want to keep things on the down low but, if you choose to do this, you may miss out on seeing what others are pinning about Australia.
Pinterest is all about being social and sharing and there are a lot of expats from all over the world, pinning like crazy. You just may discover something that you missed in your searching.
Many websites now have “Pin It” buttons on images so you can pin directly from the site to your “Moving to Sydney” board.
You can also install a pin it extension to your browser. Here’s a link to install a “Pin It Button” to the Google’s Chrome browser.
One problem with using Pinterest is some websites don’t have any images to pin, like the Australian Immigration Website. If that’s the case, what I do is use a placeholder image from my computer.
How to use your own image to pin to your Pinterest board:
- Go directly to your moving to Sydney board on Pinterest and click “add pin”.
- Select “upload image” from computer. I have a photo of Sydney that I like and use as my placeholder.
- After the image is uploaded, click the red “see it now” button. That will take you straight to your newly pinned image.
- To add a website address, click the pencil at the top to edit the image. You will be able to add a url to the image you just uploaded plus a description to keep track of your new pin.
Are you already using Pinterest? Hey, me too!
I’ve come across several of those site, like the Australian Immigration and Border Control Website, that have critical information but no images for pinning. I’ve started to make special images just for them. Check out my pins to get your Moving to Sydney board started.
I also have recently started a Sydney Expats Community Board just for us to share pins with each other. If you want to join the community board, leave a comment below and I’ll send you an invite to your email address linked to your comment.
If you haven’t used Pinterest before, give it a try. It’s a lot of fun and a good place to stash stuff you don’t need right at this moment, like that list of best places for brunch in Sydney.
I really wish Trello was around when we were planning our move. It’s perfect for big projects and you can add people to specific boards so that you’re not all by your lonesome planning away.
Trello is free and super easy to use. I have created a sample Moving to Sydney board here for you to check out.
Now I have to be honest, I kind of love Trello and the way it organises information.
You start with a board, like “Our Move To Sydney”. To that board, you add different lists, like “Packing & Shipping”. Then within that list you can add a checklist or due dates, or a checklist with due dates. It’s really cool.
For example, you can add a list of movers you want to contact then check off each as you contact them. Right from your phone with the Trello app.
Once you have your movers, you can add another list of things you have to get done before the movers show up, like plan a garage sale or make a huge donation to Goodwill.
It’s brilliant. You can take a large overwhelming project like, oh I don’t know, moving to a land far, far away, and break it down into smaller more manageable parts.
You can also add “members” to your boards to include anyone moving with you then divide and conquer all the tasks that need to get done.
Each list keeps track of each member’s activity, from what’s been added or deleted to member’s comments.
Seriously, it’s really cool. Hard to believe it’s free.
Trello starts you off with a “Welcome Board” the covers all the basics. You’ll be up and organised in no time.
There is one complication with Trello. That’s adding websites to your boards directly from your browser. There is an extension for your browser called “Send to Trello” that I use. Since you’re still going to be doing most of your research online it might be a good idea to add it.
At first glance, Evernote looks complicated but don’t let it intimidate you as it’s perfect for the expat that is in high research mode.
Evernote’s Web Clipper is genius and will save you from getting caught in the interwebs.
Within Evernote, you create Notebooks instead of Boards, as you do with Pinterest and Trello. After you have created a notebook, you can then start adding notes to it. That’s when the fun begins.
The notes can be full web pages, pdfs, notes you type out and save like a packing list, or email you forwarded to Evernote for safekeeping such as your flight confirmation. You can create a checklist and add reminders, or due dates, to your notes.
To keep your notes organised within a notebook, Evernote uses tags. So for notes in your “Moving to Sydney” notebook you might want to add tags like movers, schools, neighbourhoods, visa, or high priority, low priority. Whatever make sense to you.
There is a premium version of Evernote that is $5/month but you’ll get by just fine with the free version and can upgrade if you feel you need to. The only really significant difference between the free and premium versions is monthly storage space.
You will probably be able to get away with one “Moving to Sydney” notebook then maybe have another for when you’re in Sydney. Maybe something like a “My First Apartment” notebook to store notes about where to get that fridge and washer/dryer you’re going to need for your first apartment or maybe where second hand furniture shops are so you don’t end up with milk crates for furniture those first few weeks. Trust me, it’s not something you want to do. Been there, won’t do it again.
Evernote is great for squirrelling away things that you want to check out later but falls into the “not important right now” category like my list of Sydney brunch spots. Nice to have once we were in Sydney, but beforehand, I needed to focus on the actual move.
If you have been bookmarking websites a lot recently, then Evernote is definitely for you. Once you get the hang of notes and notebooks, you can start getting fancy with it and add multiple tags, but to begin with keep it simple.
And yes, you can access Evernote on your desktop, phone or tablet and share your notebooks with others or just share your username and password with whoever is moving with you instead of each of you having separate notebooks with all the same info.
Still with me?
That was a long post. Let’s pop it all in a nutshell.
- Pinterest easiest to use, Trello best for sharing to-do lists and saving information, and Evernote for the power expat researcher.
- If you’re just starting your expat journey then go with Pinterest or Evernote.
- If you’re more in the planning stage, have dates in mind for when you’re moving, then Trello is for you.