Moving Time: 8 Tips for Packing Like a Pro

What’s worse than a 7 a.m. client meeting on a Monday? Worse than leaving your house for the day thinking your phone is fully charged, only to discover it wasn’t even plugged in? Worse than an entire row of parallel-parked cars taking up all the street parking when there’s clearly room for at least two or three more? Moving, of course!

Plain and simple: Moving sucks. Even when you’re on your merry way to greener pastures, 9/10 would likely choose to fast forward through the arduous process of sorting, packing, lifting, and unpacking if the option was available to them. And the other 1/10? Well, they probably sleep with their socks on. So whether you’re moving across the street or across the country, here are eight packing tips to keep you sane.

Just get on with it

Lao Tzu said a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Whether he actually said that or someone thought it would make for a great motivational poster to hang in the break room is up for debate, but the sentiment stands. We’re hardwired to save the hard stuff for last, but when we delay packing for a move, we’re only hurting ourselves. A packing job well done can take anywhere from two to three weeks. And while no one doubts you could get it done in a day (you stud, you), giving yourself as much time as possible to prepare for battle is better than winging it.

Gather your mise en place

You wouldn’t start to make lasagna without first going to the market for ingredients, right? Packing is objectively different from culinary sorcery, but preparation is key to success in the kitchen and beyond. To properly pack and move the hoards of unnecessary belongings you’ve amassed in your cosmically insignificant time on Earth, you’re going to need sturdy boxes, packing (not Scotch or duct) tape, Sharpies, and padding. Also not a bad idea to secure a moving van or truck and send a mass text to your friends with sweet promises of beer in exchange for their hard labor on moving day.

KonMari the heck out of your belongings

Real talk: If your college jeans haven’t fit since college, chances are they won’t fit five or 10 years from now. Do your ego a favor and donate or recycle whatever is taking up space. Does that book you read all those years ago still spark joy? Probably not if it’s just sitting there collecting dust on the shelf. Purging can be hard, but doing it before you move will prevent your new space from feeling cluttered on arrival. If you’re having a hard time parting with that box of old love letters you dip into once a year, consider a space-saving digital archive.

Group like items

Three horns don’t play with long necks, so why would your bath mats play with your bedding? Don’t give in to the urge to stuff proximal items into a box with reckless abandon just because it seems convenient at the time. Imagine what a bummer it would be to settle into your new space only to discover the same groups don’t apply! It takes forethought and planning to map out your game plan, but glory is a game of grit and determination. No one said it would be easy, kid.

Pad breakables with household things

Now that you’ve been advised to play a game called “which of these things is not like the others,” you have full permission to break the rules. Within reason, of course. Rather than fold your zodiac tapestry into the same box as your groovy tie-dye throw pillows, consider weaving the tapestry in and around the 50 or so pint glasses you’ve collected over the years (also, see number 3). It requires some practical judgment, but ultimately this tactic can save space and minimize the need for old newspapers. Print’s dead anyway.

Keep your boxes bottom heavy

It’s no secret heavy bottoms are in, but it’s worth rehashing. What is intuitive to one is not always intuitive to another ¯_(?)_/¯. The heavy-bottom line is that heavier items belong on the bottom of your packing boxes while lighter items belong on top. Pretty straightforward, but even the most seasoned of movers have suffered at the hands of this rookie mistake.

Put a label on it

When you’re totally crushing on each other but not yet exclusive, labels are complicated. The opposite is true of your moving boxes. Lock it down on day one; slap a label on that baby ASAP. And don’t do it with a ballpoint pen either. Label it with the confidence of a third-date wedding proposal—in thick letters using the Sharpies you already purchased because you’re the most prepared mover the world has ever known (see number 2). Get granular with it. “Kitchen pots and pans” is more descriptive than “kitchen,” and knowing where to drop boxes at first glance will save time and sore arms.

When in doubt, store it out.

Maybe your inner Marie Kondo can’t come to the phone right now (see number 3 again). Perhaps you’re leaving an abundance of closet space for a closet-sized studio in the city. Suppose your significant other literally can’t even with that cluttered mess in the garage and will stop at nothing to keep the new garage clear. Whatever your dilemma, getting a storage unit can ease some pressure off the already stressful task of moving. Before you get started, here are some helpful tips for choosing the right storage unit for your needs.

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