So, you’re moving. Fun! No, wait. The opposite of that. Moving sucks, but there are things you can do to make it suck maybe a little less.
- If you can, start early. Don’t think, “Oh, my move is ages away. There’s nothing I can do this soon.” That is not good thinking. That is the kind of thinking that leaves you crying in the middle of your half-packed kitchen an hour before you have to load up the truck. If you know you’re moving, start now. Yes, right fucking now.
- Gather supplies. Don’t worry if you can’t acquire ten zillion boxes all at once. For now, make sure you have at least a few boxes, some large garbage bags, a few permanent markers, packing tape, paper for wrapping breakables, more garbage bags, and plenty of water. Seriously. Stay hydrated.
- Figure out your system. Lots of people will tell you to color code your boxes, or make a master list of box numbers and what’s in each one. However, we live in the real world where that kind of bullshit is just not going to happen. You do want to know what’s in your boxes, though, so my personal system is to write the room the box goes in on the outside of the box, and then a quick inventory of what’s in it, right on the box. So, rather than ten boxes that say “Kitchen,” your boxes will say, “Kitchen: gadgets drawer, plastic containers, wine accessories,” and “Kitchen: wine glasses and sangria pitcher.” Or whatever.
- Because you’ve so awesomely started as early as you can, you can actually sort through stuff as you pack. DO NOT PACK ANYTHING THAT YOU KNOW YOU WILL NOT WANT OR USE. Do not move what will eventually become garbage. Toss, recycle, or donate those things that will not be coming with you to your new place.
- Start with the stuff you don’t use often. If you can survive without it until your move, pack it up.
- You can pack dishes and glasses and such before the last minute. Leave out one set of dishes, silverware, and glasses for each person in your household and pack the rest. In your final packing hours, pack all of that into one box and label it so you know to open it first so you have something to eat off of in your new place.
- Work methodically. Start in one room, with one surface, shelf, or cabinet, and pack until the box is full and ready to be sealed and labeled. If you jump around a lot, you’re going to get frustrated and overwhelmed.
- Garbage bags work great for soft goods (pillows, clothes, whatnot); HOWEVER, make sure that they are clearly marked so they don’t end up in the trash. If you can get your hands on clear bags, even better.
- TAKE BREAKS. Let me repeat that. TAKE BREAKS. Moving is overwhelming and shitty, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself throughout the process.
- Once a box is packed, taped, and labeled, move it to a designated spot that’s near where the boxes will exit your current home. No sense in moving stuff twice.
- Clean as you go. Once you have an area packed up, clean it, so you don’t have a last minute, total-home cleaning frenzy.
- Work on packing every single day. Even if your move is far away, make it a goal to pack one box or work for 20 minutes every day. When you start missing days, it’s really hard to get back into the habit.
- This is pretty common advice, but in case you haven’t heard it yet, pack a box that’s all the stuff you’ll need when you first arrive in your new place. Cleaning supplies, toilet paper, shower curtain liner, sheets, soap, etc. You don’t want to have to be tearing through boxes looking for that stuff after you’ve just moved. Trust me.
- Once you’ve moved, unpack as thoroughly as possible. Avoid having boxes that stay unpacked for two years after you’ve moved. Just like when you were packing, work every day on unpacking. Aim for a box a day, and that means fully empty it, and break down and recycle or store the box.
You can do this. It’s a totally shitty process, but everyone goes through it, and if you’re prepared and give yourself time and a system, you’ll survive it. But you have to start now. Right now.
[This post originally appeared on Unfuck Your Habitat]