Packing your place for a move is nothing short of daunting, especially if you’re in a time-crunch or you tend to procrastinate.
It’s easy to feel totally stressed out (and maybe even panicked), but with a bit of prep work and some serious dedication, you can clear out your home and load up your car in one day.
Here are 11 smart tips to help you pack your home as quickly and painlessly as possible.
1. Make a List Of Things to Pack Ahead of Time.
Before you start pulling everything out of your closets and cabinets, walk through your home and take note of the big items you plan to pack or leave behind.
If you’re itching to get rid of the leather chair in your office, add it to your “Donate” list. If, on the other hand, you know you’re saving your vintage bookcase, file it under “Pack.”
2. Start Early and Enlist Help.
Use the dark pre-dawn hours when your brain is fresh and you still have energy to tackle the most difficult packing tasks. Save some time and make breakfast the night before.
Erin Steed, “chief princess officer” of Meathead Movers and Founder of Princess Packers, also recommends enlisting help from friends and family if you can’t afford to hire a professional.
“It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you take on too much by yourself, and the job will usually be bigger than you anticipated.”
3. Pack Artwork and Decorative Items Ahead of Time.
Before moving day, try to find time to pack your prized works of modern art, your American kitsch collection, knick-knacks, your vintage movie posters, or whatever else adorns your walls. Artwork, vases, frames, souvenirs, and small sculptures take extra time and care, plus you don’t really need displayed them during your last couple of weeks in your hold home.
4. Pack Room By Room.
The key to packing productivity is to stop thinking about the entire house and instead focus on one area at a time.
“When packing your home, you should go room by room, and within each room, drawer by drawer and shelf by shelf,” says Barbara Reich, professional organizer and author of Secrets of an Organized Mom.
When you pack, group like items together and organize your boxes according to the room or area of the new home they’ll go in.
5. Start With Your Kitchen
With big appliances like crock pots and toaster ovens, plus fragile dishes and glassware, packing the kitchen is tedious and time-consuming.
“If you really want to pack in one day and you have pre-planned and organized, pre-pack the kitchen,” says Suzanne O’Donnell, the Professional Organizer behind My LA Organizer.
Steed advises packing everything in advance except a few necessities like the coffee-maker, a couple plates, snacks, and some silverware.
6. Purge While You Pack.
As you pack, set aside everything you want to donate or toss. Consult your list as you go and be honest with yourself about the stuff that no longer serves you.
“There’s no point going through the time and effort of packing (and unpacking) items you no longer want or need,” says Reich.
7. Keep Supplies Handy.
Steed says it’s crucial to gather packing supplies (bubble wrap, packing paper, tape, boxes, and markers) in advance and keep them close by as you load and seal your boxes.
8. Use Trash Bags.
Load soft, pliable items like towels, blankets, and workout clothes into a trash bag instead of a box. Trash bags hold more than boxes and they can squish down to fill in the space in your car or moving truck.
9. Keep Your Clothes On Hangers.
Instead of folding and packing your coats, dresses, and shirts (and their respective hangers), use a trash bag to encapsulate them, leaving the hanger hooks sticking out of the top of the bag.
10. Fill Bags and Suitcases.
Take advantage of the dead space in your carry-ons, duffle bags, beach totes, and reusable grocery bags to store clothes, beauty products, books, linens, and other non-breakables.
11. Label Boxes Thoughtfully.
According to Steed, labeling your boxes is the key to stress-free unpacking. She recommends writing the contents of the box, the room it will go in, and special notes like “Open First” or “Fragile.”
O’Donnell takes it a step further by labeling each box on all four of its sides, a trick that speeds up the unloading process.
“Print your own labels or buy pre-printed labels ahead of time so you can stick them on the boxes as you pack, rather than taking the time to write on every box,” O’Donnell says.