Moving is messy. You have to bring down decorations, dig through old clothing, and sort through discarded toys. You must decide whether you should keep all of your furniture, sell some of your bigger pieces, or donate your older items. And don’t forget that you also need to hire a moving team, fill out seemingly endless change-of-address forms, and forward all your medical records to your new doctor.
Fortunately, you can take away some of the chaos with good, old-fashioned organization. When you pack and label your boxes properly, you can locate important items quickly.
If you don’t already have a labeling system in mind, try the following techniques to ensure your upcoming move goes smoothly.
1. Limit Color Coding to Floors
You likely already anticipated color coding your boxes, and you may have already realized that if you pack your home by rooms, then you can dramatically speed up your packing and unpacking.
However, if you have a particularly large home, color coding individual rooms can turn a simple task into a complicated one. With each additional room, you may have to branch into previously unexplored color choices such as maroon or mauve, and your movers may have a hard time distinguishing the teal for your child’s bedroom from the turquoise for your master bathroom.
To keep things clear and simple, limit your color choices to the floors or the biggest sections of your home. For example, you could choose red for your main floor, blue for your second floor, and yellow for your attic. Or you could opt for orange for all the bedrooms, green for your bathrooms, and purple for your living room.
2. Don’t Abbreviate Room Names
If you plan to label each of your boxes by hand, you may find yourself tiring after the first few boxes. In an attempt to speed things along, you may try to abbreviate some of your labels to just the first letter.
But though “K” for kitchen may seem obvious enough, other abbreviations could cause confusion. The letter “B,” for example, could mean bedroom, bathroom, or basement. The letter “D” could mean den, or your movers might interpret it as dining room. The letter “F” could represent family room, front room, or foyer.
If you need to shave off those few seconds with abbreviations, give each room a few extra letters, such as “bed” for bedroom or “bath” for “bathroom.” Better still, invest in printed stickers with the full names of each room. You can purchase pre-made stickers from moving websites, or you can create your own labels and print them at home.
3. Assign Each Box a Number
As you pack and color code your rooms, you’ll likely find that you can’t fit all of your belongings in one box per room. You may have 5 or 6 boxes dedicated to your child’s bedroom, another 3 for your guest bathroom, and 12 boxes for your kitchen.
Although you’ve taken the time to label each of these boxes by room, you might discover that some boxes will get jumbled during the move. At the end of the trip, you may wonder if you really had 12 boxes in your kitchen, or if you only had 8, or if you somehow lost 3 or 4 between the moving van and the storage unit.
To minimize confusion, total the number of boxes per room and assign each box a number. For example, you might write, “Living room, Box 3 of 7” or “Playroom, Box 2 of 9.” At the end of the move, you can line up your boxes according to their number to quickly determine which box, if any, is missing.
To take your organizational skills to the next level, assign box numbers according to their unpacking priority. You may want to open box 1 first, box 2 second, and so on.
4. Let Your Movers Know About Your System
The above techniques and tips can help you create an efficient labeling system for your next move. But remember, once you’ve established a system that works for you, you should inform your moving team about your methods. With their help, you can ensure each box ends up in the appropriate room with minimal mess.