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How to Get Organized and Find Your Zen Before a Move

Some studies indicate moving and the associated organization in the home is more stressful than divorce, and certainly the sheer volume of detail involved in separating from either a person or a place can be overwhelming.

If you’ve ever used professional movers you may have noticed they are, for the most part, calm, quiet people who don’t seem to get ruffled by much. You have to think movers, like first responders, have in many ways seen it all. If you want to find your zen before a move so you can be as calm as your movers on your actual moving day, here are a few tips to help you get organized and make things a whole lot less stressful.

Make a Master List

An investment in a small divided notebook is a good idea when planning your move. Create different sections for utilities, schools, packing materials, mover research, cleaners (indoor, outdoor, and carpet), and another for furniture, clothing, and electronic disposal. Include emergency numbers for not only doctors and immediate family, but also for babysitters and food delivery.

In fact, write down the numbers of everyone you might need to contact and don’t rely on your cell phone without a back-up plan. If you can’t find your phone or someone has helpfully packed it for you in the craziness of moving day, having utility account numbers and phone numbers will make life a lot less stressful.

Purge Early and Often

Part of what makes moving stressful is the packing process. It forces us to confront the material objects of our lives. Just throwing things in boxes subverts this process. Painful though it may be to go through clothes, bills, toys, bank statements, and electronic equipment, just throwing it into boxes and concluding you’ll deal with it at the unpacking end is inefficient, expensive, and ultimately depressing. 

Think in terms of, “Do I want you in my new life?” and “Do I need you in my new life?” Depending on how much notice you have that you’re going to be moving, you might want to start digitizing paper records and old family photos, saving to cloud or removable storage devices as additional backup.

Make Time for Packing

The only time packing is truly enjoyable is when it isn’t rushed. Because packing can be an emotionally as well as a physically taxing experience, we tend to put it off. If you find you’re procrastinating about starting to pack, ask a friend to come over to keep you company while you’re doing it. 

They don’t have to do anything physical (although take them up on the offer if they say they want to start by assembling some boxes for you). They’re there for moral support and to gently suggest that perhaps a photo of a once-cherished, now decrepit object would be enough of a memento.

At the very least, your boxes will need to be labelled. Since they’re going to be stacked, label them on the sides and on at least one long and one short side so you can read the labels no matter which way the movers pile them on top of each other. Professional movers number and tag each and every box. You don’t necessarily have to go that far. But a color coding system so kitchen boxes end up in the kitchen rather than the bedroom is a pretty easy system to set up and can save you hassles on moving day.

Create a Go Bag

In the same way you want a go bag if you have to travel frequently or unexpectedly for work, or you’re about to have a child and want to prepare for your hospital stay in advance, creating a moving “go bag” is a good idea.

Use a large tote and stock it with a few things like a spare T-shirt or two, some wipes, a comb, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. Leave most of the bag empty, because this is where you’re going to stash things like an Exacto knife to open up boxes, rolls of tape you’ve used to seal the last box, your computer modem or router, and perhaps even your laptop.

This is also where you should start collecting things like phone chargers. Having your life stored in your phone is great until the battery is dead and you can’t find a charger or you’re in a dead zone and can’t get cell service.

Leave the go bag out on the counter and don’t try to stock it with much of anything. It will be your last-minute savior when you spot things you don’t want to leave behind but want to pack.

A couple more tips to help you find and maintain your zen before a move: get more boxes, packing material, and tape than you think you will need. Having too much is not the tragedy being two boxes and one roll of tape short on moving day can be. Also, consider hiring professional cleaners so you can remove that stress from the whole moving equation. They aren’t all that expensive, and an empty house is so much easier to clean than an occupied one.