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Organizing 101: Packing like an Organizer

Moving, be it because you sold your home, or are leaving your parents' home to live in a dorm or your first apartment, can quickly become a daunting and stressful task.

There is always lots of preparation, tasks, and time required to ensure everything is in place for moving day. For some this can become extremely overwhelming and create scenarios where key items such as booking a moving truck, can become forgotten or pushed to the last minute.

To ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible, you need to start off on the right foot. Take some time to create a list of activities that need to be done between now and moving day and refer to them as you go. This will ensure key items or bookings are not missed, and that you are set up for success.

One of these important steps is packing. Knowing how to correctly put your possessions in boxes so items are not damaged, lost, or misidentified will elevate the stress and uncertainty that comes with both packing and unpacking in your new space.

Below are Ten (1o) packing tips that will help you feel prepared and organized for your next move.


1. Declutter before you pack

There is no point in boxing up items you won't have a use for in your new home. Downsizing and decluttering your home before you start packing may not seem like it will save you money and time, but minimizing the items that are going with you will leave you with less to unpack and help determine the size of the moving truck and/or help required come moving day.

2. Start the process as early as possible

You will likely have advance notice of your upcoming move. To ensure you have enough time to declutter and also pack your kept belongings before the big day, start the process as early as possible. This also allows you to manage the time and the level of effort required to complete the work stress-free.

This will also provide you with an opportunity to assess if you are able to complete this work on your own or need assistance from a moving company and/or organizer.

3. Use proper-sized boxes

Moving boxes are not one size fits all. Make sure you are using the proper-sized boxes for the desired contents. For example, when packing dishes, you would want a smaller and different-sized box than for your flatscreen tv.

4. Label your boxes clearly on the top & sides

As you fill each box, make sure to use proper packing tape to secure the bottom and top of boxes (especially if they contain heavy or fragile items) and clearly label them with a permanent marker.

The label should have at least the room the box is designated for so that when it is unloaded from the moving truck it can be brought to its proper location. You can also include the contents (i.e. Kitchen - dishes or Living Room - books) and also indicate if the box is heavy or contains fragile items.

Since boxes will be stacked inside the moving truck, make sure to label both the top and sides of the boxes for easy identification.

5. Keep all items from the same room in the same box

Avoid mixing items from multiple rooms in one box. Think of packing as an extension of organizing. This will make the unpacking of the boxes in your new home a simple and enjoyable process.

6. Use packing supplies to ensure fragile items are not broken

Be sure to use proper packing supplies (paper, bubble wrap etc.) when packing valuable and breakable items in a box. Things will shift and move in the moving truck, so you want to make sure items are as secure and protected as possible from damage.

7. Do not leave space in between items in boxes

Empty space in boxes means items will move and potentially break, even if they are wrapped in packing supplies. Treat the items in the box like Tetris or puzzle pieces. Make sure they are snug and secure. This is especially important for breakable items like dishes and glassware.

Additionally, do not overfill your boxes either. Leave a gap at the top of the boxes to properly seal them closed with packing tape so that the top is flat and easy to stack.

8. Heavy items on the bottom & light items on the top

To make sure small and light items are not crushed or damaged, always pack them on top with heavy items such as books on the bottom. This will also give the box proper shape and make it easier to stack and store in the moving truck come moving day.

9. Pack by room (least used to most used)

Instead of packing by item type, you should systematically make your way through your home room by room. Start with the least used spaces and work your way towards your common areas like the kitchen or bathroom (which should be last to pack).

As you pack up the spaces, you can store your sealed and boxed-up boxes in the unused room(s) to allow your home to remain functional up until moving day.

10. Identify items that cannot be packed in the moving truck

Not all items should or can be stored in the moving truck (especially if you are doing a long-distance move). items such as house plants, food, emergency/necessity items (medication, clothing etc.) and pets/pet supplies will need to be transported in your own personal vehicle.

As you're packing up your home, you should also pack a suitcase per family member of essential items that they can access on their first night at your new home before you start to unpack your place. This will make the transition as smooth and comfortable as possible.


As a Professional Organizer, I'm sometimes asked by clients to help pack up their items for a variety of reasons. If you're looking to save some money (either by hiring an Organizer or a Moving Company) and DIY it, then these tips will make your next move an organized success!


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About the Author: Brittany Smith lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and feline furbaby Zoey. She is a Certified Professional Organizer, Owner, and Founder of Control the Chaos, a Professional Organizing business that provides personalized in-home, virtual and digital organizing services aimed at transforming anyone's chaos into calm.


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