How to Purge, Pack and Move Like a Zen Master

When you start packing, number each box and keep a master list of what's in each box. When you get to your new home, you'll be able to find your favorite coffee mug or comfiest slippers more quickly. Frannyanne/

I’ve moved so many times that I have it down to a science — so much so that moving doesn’t stress me out in the least. As a matter of fact, I look forward to it, which I realize is weird. It probably has to do with my underlying desire to constantly get rid of stuff. Moving allows me the opportunity to purge. An uncluttered space or an organized sock drawer is my drug of choice.

Here’s what I’ve learned in all my years of moving:

1. Make lists. The first step to a successful move is to make a master list of everything you need to do and when. Change your address, get a new driver's license (if you’re moving out of state), cancel your cable and turn off your water, for example. Sort your list into what you need to do before you leave and what you need to do when you get to your new home. In this master list, keep track of all important info like login names and passwords for your new services or ticket numbers for cancellation requests. That way, you have one place to find all your important info. (And make sure it’s backed up!)

2. Purge early. Look around your house and purge as much as possible two to three months before you move. Go room-by-room and start getting rid of stuff. You’ll need to divide things into three piles: sell, donate and throw away. If you’ve got the luxury of time, snap pictures and post them on CraigsList, OfferUp or Facebook's Marketplace. If you don’t, have a one-day garage sale or donate the items. Just don’t pack them — wasting your time and resources on things you’re going to get rid of anyway makes no sense.

Colored tape
Buy colored duct tape and use one color for all the boxes for each room. Then put a piece of tape on the doorway to each room at your new house, and movers will be able to tell where each box goes. Alex Veresovich/Shutterstock

3. Number your boxes. When you start packing, number each box and keep a master list so you know exactly what’s in each box. Keep the master list on an app like Evernote so you have it easily accessible on your phone no matter where you are. (Another bonus to Evernote: The text in your document is also searchable — you’ll quickly know that your favorite kitchen mug is in box 67.)

Here’s a great tip you probably haven’t thought of — color-code each room. I like to buy colored duct tape for this purpose and I put the colors at the top of my master list — orange for the dining room, pink for the playroom, blue for the kitchen, and so on. This way, you can put a piece of tape on the doorway to each room at your new house, and you’ll save your movers time by not having to ask you where things go — just match the colors on the boxes to the colors on the rooms. Boom.

4. Make time to pack. There’s nothing worse than staying up all night the night before you move, frantically shoving things in boxes and then being exhausted the next day — not to mention not being able to find anything once you get to your destination. First, pack the important stuff in a bag that you’ll take with you in your car — jewelry, important paperwork — along with essentials for the first night — clean socks and underwear, toothbrushes, cellphone charger, etc. Then, pack everything else while you take a day off of work, put the kids in front of the TV or wait until they’re asleep. You’ll be much more efficient than if you try to do it haphazardly over a few weeks.

Some moving companies may refuse to move these 12 items.
Check online reviews before booking your moving company. XiXinXing/Shutterstock

5. Choose movers wisely. What about when it comes to picking a mover? Lisa and Rodrigo Rojas of America’s Family Moving based in Boca Raton, Florida, offer some tips. "Go online and do your research. Once you find a couple of companies, look for reviews online and see if they are a legit company," Lisa suggests. "Find a local moving company. Some companies might have an office far from you and advertise in the same city you live in. The closer the company is to you, the better chance you have of not having any surprises or hidden costs in at the end of your move," they explain. Finally, be sure to set up appointments for an estimate. "It's impossible to provide an honest quote over the phone." If they won’t come out to give you an estimate — nix ‘em.

Now, get a move on!