It’s moving season again! Moving is one of the more stressful things we do, but careful planning can go a long way toward making it less stressful. I think the tips in this post, which I wrote in 2014, are still helpful, so I’m running it again. If you’re in St. Louis and planning a move, check out Operation: Relocation. We’d love to help!
A supply drawer we created while unpacking a client
Moving is stressful. There’s pretty much no way around it. Even if an employer is paying for the move and you have the movers pack you, there are a lot of details with which to contend and it’s a hassle. Working with a professional organizer can help, but even so, the process is stressful.
I’ve recently helped several clients settle into their new homes by bringing in teams to unpack and organize their belongings. All of them were packed by the movers. Observing how the unpacking and organizing process went, I’ve identified a few ways to make the move easier:
- Start early. It’s easy to procrastinate on decluttering, packing, and making logistical arrangements. But the more time you can give yourself, the less stressful the process will be—and the more likely you are to avoid last-minute crises.
- Declutter before the move. If an employer is paying for the move, you might be inclined to delay decisions about letting go of stuff until after you see how it might fit into your new home. But believe me, by the time you’re in the unpacking phase of the move you’re going to be tired. And the fewer decisions you have to make when you unpack, the happier you’ll be. Less stuff = easier move.
- Go through the unopened boxes from the last move. If you’ve been in your home awhile and there are still unopened boxes in your storage area, don’t just move them. Open up those boxes and find out whether the items inside merit the space you’re giving them and the effort and money involved in moving them.
- Categorize before packing. If each box contains a category of items, unpacking is much more streamlined, and less frustrating. It can also make it easier to find an individual item before you’ve finished unpacking. If you don’t organize before you pack, you’ll end up with a hodge podge of items in each box, which can create headaches when you’re unpacking.
- Mark the boxes for the destination room. If the layout of your new home is different from the old one, try to mark the boxes for delivery to the appropriate room in the new home, rather than the room it came from. That way you’ll be able to stay in the room that you’re unpacking.
- Try to unpack as much as possible as soon as you move in. I’m typically a big fan of little and often, and if you need to break down unpacking into tiny chunks in order to get it done on your own, so be it. But if you can power through the unpacking process so that you get rid of boxes and get settled, the transition will be easier.
- Unpack the kitchen first. I think it’s hard to get a semblance of normalcy until your kitchen is unpacked. When you can make coffee in the morning and fix yourself a snack, life is better. Eating off of real plates rather than paper plates will make you feel like you’re home.
- Let go of perfection. Don’t get bogged down in the unpacking process trying to decide the perfect place to store items. You can always improve on it later. Just choose a location and see how it works.
- Enlist help. Unpacking a home on your own can be overwhelming. Enlist the help of friends, family or a professional organizer (or organizing team). In the last two unpacking jobs we did, we were able to get the entire homes unpacked in two days. It felt like a miraculous transformation—from a sea of boxes to a comfy home in two days. The clients still had tweaking to do, certainly, but they were able to get in with their daily routines.
Yes, moving is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With a little planning and forethought, you can make it relatively easy.