Moving takes a lot of organizing and planning to manage the – ahem – moving parts. If you’re preparing for a move you may have some long to-do lists on your hands. Between sorting, donating, cleaning, packing, changing your address, etc. it’s easy to take some of the smaller details for granted. There’s one often-overlooked yet crucial part of moving: labeling your boxes.

How you pack and label your boxes will make a world of difference on the other side. Well-labeled boxes will arrive in their right rooms, and you’ll be able to get straight to settling in. So how do you label your moving boxes in the most effective way?

Gather Supplies

To start you’ll, of course, need supplies. Whether you get free boxes from local friends or shops, or you pick them up brand new, that’s not where the key to labeling lies. Labeling is made effective by the labeling tools themselves.

Collect quality, waterproof markers for writing your labels. Having hearty markers will make sure your writing is vibrant and resilient no matter what comes on moving day. You’ll also ensure they last beyond your move so you can use them for other purposes as you need them. Having a variety of colors means that if you choose a color-coded system you’ll have plenty to choose from. 

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You can also print or buy labels to stick on your boxes. Your moving company may have some, so check in with them. Labels have the rooms already printed on them, saving you some manual effort down the line. Some choose to forego the classic clear tape and instead use colored tape to differentiate between rooms.

Make a List

Hopefully, you’re starting your packing early. By beginning with enough time to spare, you can be more deliberate about sorting and packing your boxes in a way you can track. Whether you’re starting early or running low on time, one thing is all too common: forgetting just what is where.

An inventory list will help you keep track of your items, and can help you identify your boxes. Your living room alone will likely have a stack of boxes, so how do you know which contains what? With an inventory list, you don’t need to write a full paragraph to keep track. After labeling your boxes by room, you can label them by number. These corresponding numbers can have a cheat sheet of what’s contained within so you can stay organized on the other side.

No need to grab a clipboard and write a paper list. In fact, with all of the commotion on moving day, it can be hard to keep track of papers floating around. Instead, try using the FlatRate moving app. A free tool, we can help you create a clear inventory list that’s always in your pocket.

Be Clear and Consistent

Whatever way you choose to label your boxes, be consistent in your approach. This will not only help you in unpacking, but it will also help your movers to understand where to bring your boxes.

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Color-coded systems are great. This helps you identify your boxes even from afar without reading each individual word. Choose one color per room for ease of sorting. Be aware, though, that while your color system may make sense to you, your mover may have trouble remembering your approach.

Don’t stop at only colors, label rooms and a summary of contents. A label such as KITCHEN – DISHES – CUPS or BEDROOM – CLOTHES – DRESSER will help you know what’s inside before you tear in. This helps you be strategic in your unpacking, not only going room by room but purpose-by-purpose. No need to get to the granular detail. Label enough to help you unpack while keeping the process smooth.

Label All Sides

Boxes often get turned and shifted along the way. Labeling on a side that makes sense as the box sits in front of you may not be clear as things are in motion. Label multiple sides as well as the top of the box for easy identification. If you have special handling instructions, make sure you write these on multiple sides as well.