The best way for me to process a project is to line it up. Without trying, I organize it in chronological order (What do I need to do first? Second? After that?). I think about things that could happen along the way and add them in, also chronologically. I keep everything in one centralized location. Clearly, I must write everything down and I have found that rather than use only a paper and pen, Microsoft Excel is my favorite way to organize a move.
I keep both a printed copy (the binder) and the Excel workbook. In Excel there is a worksheet for every part of the moving process (see the tab list here) as well as every room. I store contact information, lists and lists and lists, and photos of inspiration in this file. It is organized chronologically into 4 main sections:
You may be more comfortable with a paper and pen. That's cool, too. Just write it all down. Keep it beside your bed and take it with you in your purse. If you're like me, you'll remember things at odd times. If you start thinking about your move early enough you will have time to go back and add in all of the detail that you might have missed the first time you jotted your thoughts down.
One of the things I think about early on is the supplies I'll need to have when I pack.
- Boxes: Check Craigslist for free boxes in your area, scour grocery store and liquor store dumpsters, or ask at The Walmarts.
- Packing Tape & Scissors
- Garbage bags
- Paper & Pen (and Excel, if you choose)
- Black Marker: I suggest numbering your boxes by room and then keeping a list of how many boxes you have. For example, as you pack up the kitchen, apply your color dot (see below) and mark the box "Kitchen 1" ... "Kitchen 13". On your list, you would write down that you have 13 boxes for the kitchen. Then when you are unloading, you'll count the boxes in the kitchen and make certain you have everything you packed. Also label the boxes that contain toilet paper, the remote control, and the telephone.
- Color Coding System (dots, colored markers, or colored labels): Assign each room in your new home a color. When you pack, apply a colored dot to each box so that your helpers know where to put your boxes when they are unloading. If you use garbage bags, tie that color ribbon around the top.
- Newspapers or Padding: Many folks prefer to use paper between their dishes and glassware. I'd rather not generate the waste, so I use my towels or tee shirts.
- Suitcase or Bag For Overnight Items: You aren't going to be unpacked in a day, so it is wise - especially if you have children - to pack a change of clothes, toiletries, and toys to keep them occupied while you run around crazy on the first day. More on this later.
Before you start packing, give some thought to what you can pack away first (those old photo albums and books) and what you should pack right before walking out the door (your plates and silverware). Don't pack up what you need to live until you're ready to do your living somewhere else.
If you're a parent you might also need to line up child care. While I don't mind packing with the kids at home, I know that I'll be relying on friends and sitters when I move boxes and furniture.
Moves can be stressful, but if you think it through and plan ahead, you'll find fun in the process itself. Well, you will if your middle name is "anal-retentive."