It’s moving season! With long days, clearer skies, and warmer weather, many of us are inspired to shift into a new space. The excitement of a new chapter can often be eclipsed by a sense of overwhelm. The to-do list is long so how do you tackle it all?

It may be ambitious to suggest that moving should be a fun experience. It can be hard work and tedious at times, and is not the favorite activity for most people. That doesn’t mean it has to be so bad, though. We’ve put together 5 tips for staying organized before moving to help you take some of the pressure off.

1. Get a Head Start

The best way to stay organized is to start early. Avoiding tasks until the last minute is certainly not without its appeal. After all, it’s much more fun to daydream about getting a new sofa, or becoming a regular at your new neighborhood cafe. Fight the urge, and don’t delay your moving preparations.

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By starting early, you’ll be able to move at a more comfortable pace. You’ll have plenty of time to plan your steps, get the help you need, and keep everything orderly. Staying organized means not cutting corners, which means giving yourself enough time.

2. Downsize

A good early-phase step is downsizing. This is the step where you do “future you” a favor and purge all of the stuff you don’t need. There’s no sense in packing, moving, unpacking, and finding a place for those things you won’t use.

Go room-by-room and filter through your things. Separate your piles for donation, sale, and trash or recycling. By gathering these separate piles, you’ll also have an idea of your next steps.

Selling things takes time, so you’ll want to approach this one soon. Platforms like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or ThreadUp are great places to list and sell your items. You can also try consignment shops in our area, which will provide payment when your things sell. Check their terms, as some provide only store credit. This can be less helpful if you’re moving out of the area.

If you have things to donate determine where you’ll take them. Many donation centers have days or hours in the week where they’re open for receiving, so find the details so you can plan around this schedule.

3. Sort Before Packing

Don’t just grab boxes and bags and throw your stuff wherever it fits. Sorting your things before you begin packing will make it so much easier on you on the other side.

You can tackle this step while you downsize. Go through each room, and as you separate the “keep” from the “purge” items, group them together in an orderly way. Have some clothes lurking around your home office? Or books scattered around the house? Bring everything to the place where they properly belong before you begin packing, so you can be sure you unpack them in the right room in your new home.

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4. Use Lists and Labels

There are a few different lists that will help you stay organized before moving. To-do lists for the things you need to tackle before moving day comes. Inventory lists, in case you’re putting your things into storage before unpacking. Expense lists, so you can keep track of moving costs. Lists will help you have an overview of how far you’ve come, and how much further you have left to go.

Labels are crucial for your moving organization. Since you spent all of that time sorting your stuff and making sure you pack it in a sensible way, labeling will help you make sure it arrives in your new home the way it left. Put clearly written labels on the sides and top of your boxes, so you can tell what they are no matter their orientation.

Label by room for your movers, so they can place the boxes in their right space. You can also get more specific – think MASTER BEDROOM – CLOTHES – CLOSET – to be sure you know just what’s in each box before you open it up. This means you can handle your unpacking in the same organized way.

5. Pack Last, Open First

Once you begin packing your boxes, be strategic. Start with packing things you use the least and won’t miss in the run-up to moving day. Seasonal clothing, spare linens, and lesser-used kitchen items are great places to start. As you get closer to moving day, you’ll pack the things you use more often. These will likely be the things you’ll unpack first.