Preparing to move can be intimidating, especially as you look around your home and see all of the items that are ready to go into boxes. Where should you start? How do you accomplish such a gargantuan task? Use this handy guide to get started and you’ll be ready to move in no time!

1. Cut Down on Your Belongings
Every year, you likely do a bit of spring cleaning and get rid of unwanted items. Preparing to move should be like spring cleaning amped up to 1,000. Be merciless in getting rid of items that you no longer need or use. If you have to pause to think about it, donate it, sell it or trash it. If you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. If it’s battered or broken beyond being useful, get rid of it. You won’t miss these extra items and you’ll thank yourself when your decluttering efforts save you time and space when you unpack at your new home.

2. Box Size Matters
To make organization easier for you and the move easier for your moving company, pack heavy items in smaller boxes and light items in larger boxes. This way, you’ll have manageable, small boxes of items such as books, while things like pillows and comforters will reside in jumbo-sized boxes. Your moving company will thank you…and so will your back, should you need to shift these boxes around while packing or unpacking.

3. Pack Plates Vertically (Like Records)
To keep your dinner plates safe during the move, cushion them with bubble wrap or packing paper. To save a buck, you can also use towels or clothing to wrap them. Place a layer of protective cushioning in the bottom of the box. Now, organize the plates in the box vertically like records at a record store. This makes them less likely to break than stacking them in horizontally.

4. Tape Tops and Bottoms of Boxes
Secure your boxes thoroughly with tape to ensure that they’ll stay closed throughout the move. Use at least two pieces of tape to close each box. For heavy boxes, also tape the edges at the top and bottom. This helps reinforce the box in areas that will be stressed when it’s picked up.

5. Pack Fragile Items Together
Don’t randomly pack breakable items in boxes along with your sturdier belongings. This makes it hard to know which boxes should be handled with particular care. Organize breakables together and mark their boxes accordingly. In addition to handling them more gently, movers will know not to stack anything heavy on top of boxes containing these items.

6. Use Descriptive Labels
When you arrive at your destination, nothing will frustrate you more than vague labels. If you need a cup of coffee that first morning, it’ll be impossible to find your coffee maker among a sea of boxes that are simply marked “Kitchen Items.” Be specific as to which items are in each box—you’ll thank yourself later!

7. Colour-Coding Helps, Too
Another packing strategy that will help you hugely on the arrival end of things is using color-coded tape or labels on each box. For instance, tag all boxes destined for your kitchen with blue. All boxes containing items for the master bedroom could have a yellow tag or label. Give your movers a list of how the boxes are color-coded and when you unpack at your new place, each box will already be in the room where it will be unpacked. This will help speed things along so that your new home will be your fully-unpacked home sweet home in no time.

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