10 Tips on Packing & Organizing for a Move

Are you one of the many individuals who will pack up their entire lives this summer to begin a new adventure in a new space, maybe even in a new city?  Well then, you've come to the right place because I just did that!  And although I haven't unpacked yet (post to come!), you can learn from some of what I did wrong and some of what I did right so that you can have a more organized, non-stressful, smooth sailing, move.  Here we go!

1. Start Early!  Hopefully you're not reading this two days before you have to be out of your house because I cannot emphasize this enough.  This was one of my mistakes.  I just moved out of my home of fifteen years.  That's a lot of stuff to go through and pack.  I wish I'd started months ago.  This was a thought I had often the few days before I had to be out of my house.  I was stressed and working double time because I had greatly underestimated the amount of stuff I had and the amount of time it would take.  So, if it's not too late for you, begin now!  Invest in some paper plates and plastic cups and utensils so that you can pack up all your glasses and dishes.  And start going through storage spaces and your least-used, nonessential items that you can live without for a while so that you're not scrambling at the last second. 

2. Invest in Good Packing Supplies.  Back in the college days people would get produce and food boxes from grocery stores and masterly squeeze as much into a box as possible, wrapping plates with T-shirts and hoping for the best.  But now, hopefully you've upgraded from your college cookware and have accumulated some home goods that you truly love (and spark joy!), and we want to take care of those things!  So buy the heavy duty boxes for your plates and collectibles.  Buy bubble wrap and packing paper to protect your glassware.  And it is expensive, but the rolls of perforated foam you can buy will protect your china and precious figurines.  I wrapped all my plate sets in it and I swear that stuff is so cushy I could drop a box and it would be fine (although I'm not going to actually try that experiment). 

3. Declutter As You Pack.  If you take tip #2 to heart this will give you plenty of time to go through each item and ask yourself, "Does this _____ bring me joy?"  If it doesn't it gets trashed, recycled, or donated.  I did my best to discard while packing but it was just getting so down to the wire that I started throwing everything into boxes.  So guess what I get to do when I finally unpack?  Ask myself if each item sparks joy and look at the momentous amount of stuff that I packed, carried, and wasted precious moving van space on.  This tip is an all around win.  The more you are able to discard means you'll have to spend less on packing supplies because you'll have less to pack!  You'll also have less to unpack.  See?  Wins all around.

4. Pack Vertically.  Everything is happier when it's vertical.  No thing wants to be at the bottom of the box holding the weight of not only the things within the box, but the weight of all the contents of all of the boxes you stack on top of it.  I firmly believe that vertical packing allows more space than horizontal packing and therefore you can fit more items per box.  If you fold your clothing items the KonMari way and put them in a box as you would a drawer, you would not believe how many more items you can fit than if you just did a quick in-half fold and dropped it in.  I was able to fit more board games per box once I tipped them upwards, and plates are less likely to break if they're packed vertically.  I found it was helpful to tip the box on its side with a pillow or something underneath so that it was angled and I could put items in vertically without them falling over.  Vertical all the way!

5. Wardrobe Boxes For More Than Clothes.  I have some odd-shaped items, and I'm sure you do as well.  Wall hangings, holiday decorations in odd box sizes or no boxes at all, baskets, tents, sleeping bags, bulletin boards and large umbrellas.  These are a few of the things that would either not fit in any standard size moving boxes or would be a waste, as one item would take up an entire box.  Here to save the day is the wardrobe box.  Yes, the closet box with the little metal hanging rod.  Fold away your clothes in a regular box and pack all your large odds and ends in one of these babies.  I promise you won't regret it.  You'll be amazed at what can't even fit in an extra large moving box, but the wardrobe takes it like a champ.  Just be sure to watch the weight with these!  The pounds add up quickly in these large boxes so if it's getting too heavy fill the extra space with something light like decorative pillows.

6. Make Two Piles of Boxes.  One pile can go in the front room or the garage.  These are the nonessentials, the things you can live without for a while.  It doesn't matter if you've been in your new home for two months and haven't yet come across the box holding you Christmas china (unless it's Christmastime-then it's urgent you find it as soon as possible!)  But a lot of more decorative pieces aren't necessary for everyday life.  The second pile of boxes can be kept in an office or bedroom.  These are your essentials.  Food, shower curtain, some clothes, toiletries.  These are the things you need every day to function and you're going to want to unpack these first.  When the time comes, load the nonessential boxes into the van first and have the essentials loaded last so they'll be the first to come out.

7. Go Room By Room.  It's overwhelming to look at your home as a whole knowing you've got to pack and move its entire contents.  So just take it a room at a time.  I decided that I would work on my house from top to bottom.  I started in the attic (where it was mostly boxes anyway) and brought everything down to the dining room.  I packed loose items, took apart the shelving, and vacuumed.  Then I mentally checked that one room off my list.  It was a huge weight removed knowing I wouldn't have to go up to the attic ever again.  It was empty and clean and I could move on to the next room.  I would also add you should clean the room after it's all emptied so you're not stuck cleaning the entire house all in one go at the end of your packing marathon.  Get the room packed, cleaned, and close the door not only so you know it's done but also so no one sticks anything in there as a temporary holding place.

8. Have A Designated Packing Supplies Area.  The headline speaks for itself, but choose a corner of the house or a kitchen table and make it your designated packing supplies area.  Stock it with packing tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, boxes, and Sharpies.  Make sure everyone involved knows that everything must be returned to that area!  The tape and Sharpies go missing easily when everyone is working in a different room.

9. Get Boxes Out of the House ASAP.  Having piles of boxes (even if it's just the two piles!) creates visual clutter that will make you feel like you're farther behind than you are.  Stack boxes in the garage if you can, and as soon as you have the moving van or trailer start getting them in there.  If you are in an apartment and don't have a garage, make neat stacks in the front room.  Seeing your home become emptier and emptier will help you to feel less stressed and more accomplished.

10. Get Help From Family & Friends.  We could not have been out of the house in time if it weren't for my aunt and uncle.  They saved us.  Every day, all day, Friday through Sunday, they were there, helping to pack boxes, clean rooms, and load the truck.  We really lucked out because now they even want to come out and help us unload the truck!  If you have family in the area, that's great, but hopefully you have some amazing friends as well who will take some time to show their love for you by helping you pack, clean, and move.  Don't forget to repay them with Starbucks and Chinese takeout breaks!  Taking a food break with your crew will give you that second burst of energy you need to get it all done.  You got this!

How's your packing & moving coming?  What tips and tricks have worked for you? Please share and help us all during this stressful time!