6 November 2012

Moving home without descending into chaos: Prioritise


Obviously every move will vary and I feel like we've experienced almost each type. We've moved to a new house super nearby the old one, we've moved to a house a few hours' drive away, we've moved to another country (twice!). We've sometimes had months to prepare and we've sometimes had a couple of weeks. We've had moves where we did all of our own packing, loading, unloading and unpacking, moves where we've packed ourselves but paid someone else to do the actual shifting, and moves where we paid a company to pack us up and move us.

This tip, of packing boxes in priority order, works well if you have plenty of time before your move (weeks or months). You can spread the work of packing and at the same time create a system that helps to make unpacking much easier too.

As you pack each box, draw three circles on it - these will serve as an instant visual reference to the priority. Colour in one circle for low-priority boxes (which won't need to be unpacked for months), two circles for medium-priorty boxes (which won't need to be unpacked for weeks) or three circles for high-priorty boxes (which will need unpacking immediately).

Update: I now use a bingo marker from the dollar store to make the circles / dots - it is more efficient and I can do them in red for easy reference.

The first boxes you pack will be of items that aren't used daily, obviously - at this stage you still have a while before your move. These are low-priority boxes and will have one circle coloured in - you can do without the items while you wait for your move and you won't need them for a while after moving. These boxes might contain things like backup disks, seasonal decor, hand-me-down clothes, out of season clothing, etc. These boxes get one circle coloured in. Stash these boxes out of the way in your new home (for example, in the garage or spare room) and get to them when everything else has been dealt with.

As you get closer to your move you will start packing things that you might not need right away, but will need fairly soon after your move. They medium-priority items might be things like baking or cooking tools, craft items, books, photo albums - items that are not necessary for day-to-day living but which are used fairly frequently. These boxes get two circles coloured in and can be stashed in corners to be unpacked once you have dealt with your high-priority boxes.

High priority boxes, which get three circles coloured in, will need to be the most accessible once unloaded and brought into your new home. They will contain your everyday essentials such as clothes, food, toys, etc. They will be unloaded straight into the correct rooms and left in an accesible spot (middle of the floor, against a wall) where they can be unpacked right away.

This priorty system keeps things manageable - you only have to deal with the high priority boxes right away, and you know which ones they are. Once your everyday items are sorted, then you can move onto the other boxes. It also helps you make the best use of your storage furniture, by unpacking every items into the most accessible spots and later stashing seldom-used things in harder-to-reach areas.

All posts in this series:

Packing necklaces

The "do not pack" boxes

Where to get boxes

Declutter as you go



Word documents

Last few tips

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