I live in a college town so August always means move-in time around here. It’s also a busy month for families moving to new towns or new homes just in time for school to start. If you’re on the move, here are a few tips to keep yourself organized (or at least organized enough!) while on the move. 

For many, the thought of moving (the boxes, the packing, the chaos, the sore muscles, the unpacking, etc.) might be right up there with a root canal in the realm of good times. However, the process of moving can provide you with an ideal opportunity to de-clutter and get organized. Ask any military family who moves frequently and they’ll tell you…it’s hard to hold on to clutter when you’re constantly on the move.

Here are a few suggestions for embracing the move process: packing, unpacking and creating systems that give you the organized house of your dreams!

1. Hire as much help as you can afford. If it’s in your move budget, have professionals pack and move your items. It will save time collecting boxes and supplies and save energy for unpacking and setting up your new home. Plus, no one can wrap up your fine china like a pro!

2. Purge prior to packing. Set aside enough time to tackle each space (including your attic, basement and garage) and rid your home of items that won’t work in your new house, or things you don’t currently need, use or love. Remember that each item you move costs you energy and money to pack and take with you.

3. Label each box with the name of the room or space it should be moved to in your new home. If you hire movers, be sure to label each room in your new home so as they’re unloading, they can easily put items where they belong.

4. Don’t forget to eat and stay hydrated throughout the process. Moving is more of a marathon than a sprint. Stockpile healthy snacks and lots of water so you can be at the top of your game and make it across the finish line.

5. When unpacking, consider focusing on rooms in the following order:

  • Bedrooms: put together beds and make them. You’ll be tired and sleeping in your own bed is a great way to feel at home in your new place.
  • Kitchen: unpack food and serving dishes, then move on to pots and pans, utensils, and finish with less frequently used items. (hint: consider putting sticky notes on cabinets as you make decisions about what goes where. You might leave them on for the first week or two so everyone in the household can find things!)
  • Hang your shower curtain and a few clean towels so you can shower and feel fresh for more days of unpacking
  • Focus on your home office. If you work from home, you’ll need at a minimum your computer/printer and phone in working order.
  • Set up your living and dining space.
  • Focus on storage spaces such as closets, the attic, basement and garage. Temporarily these spaces may become dumping grounds for empty boxes and packing materials or items without a permanent home. Set a deadline for dealing with these spaces so they don’t become a black hole of clutter.
  • Finally, hang pictures, arrange decorative pieces, and make your house a real home.

6. Once boxes are unpacked, flatten all packing materials to make sure you’ve gotten out even the smallest items. (And YES, I recommend unpacking every single box!). Cardboard can attract unwanted pests, so don’t leave it sitting around for too long. Freecycle, sell on Craigslist or offer moving materials to a friend.

7. After the dust has literally settled, make decisions about how best to use your storage space and make a list of additional organizational tools you may need. Holiday and seasonal items are best stored in attics or on shelves in a garage or basement. More frequently accessed items such as sporting goods, tools and play gear should be kept within arms reach in a garage or storage closet. Clear plastic bins are best for storing items so you know what you have and can find items when you need them.

A move always offers a fresh start and an opportunity to atone for your cluttered ways in the past. Imagine how you want your life in your home to look and use your move as an opportunity to make that dream a reality! After all of your hard work, take a step back, pat yourself on the back, and tell yourself “Welcome Home.”