Moving is a stressful experience. Having your whole life placed in boxes, picked up and transported from one place to another, is inherently unsettling. Today, we’re going to talk about some ways to make it a little less stressful. Hint: It’s all about order.


Commit everything to paper or record it digitally. Do not think that, after looking at 1,376 houses in a weekend (or at least that’s what it will feel like), you will remember with any degree of accuracy which family room you actually chose.

  • Make good notes – Jot down any information that will help you remember what you saw or learned. The more details, the better the chance that it will trigger a full recall.
  • Take pictures (if the current residents agree) and/or draw diagrams of your new space. Again, the more detail the better.
  • Write down the dimensions of your new rooms so that you can plan where things will go. This will also help you decide what furniture you might want to give away or sell before the move.
  • Take measurements of the windows, so that you can plan for window treatments.
  • Make sure to note windows, doors, architectural features (angled walls, art niches, chair rails, etc.) that could affect placement of furniture or decor.

Likewise, when communicating with movers, relocation counselors, service providers, etc., take good notes.

  • Note the date, time, and substance of phone calls.
  • File emails together in a Moving folder or tag them so that they are easily searchable.
  • Put any appointments on your calendar ASAP.

At the best of times, I preach David Allen’s mantra that ‘Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them’. Moving is not the best of times so it’s even more important to not expect your mind to hold onto everything.

Create a System for Organizing Information. Use It.

Moving generates a ridiculous amount of information. And almost all of it is critically important. You’ll never remember it all, but the good news is that you don’t need to. You just have to have a system to organize it all.

For the paperwork you will need to keep, an expandable file (like this one) is invaluable. Label the individual sections according to the specific categories for your move. For information you want to access electronically, Evernote is an outstanding tool. You can either create individual notebooks for each category or have a master Moving notebook and use tags for individual categories. Here are a few categories to get you started:

  • Contacts – Realtors, moving companies, utilities, relocation consultants, mortgage brokers – you will be buried in phone numbers, email addresses, websites, etc. Find a way to organize all of it so that you can easily find what (and who) you need when you need it.
  • New Home – During the house hunting process, keep listing sheets and notes on the houses you’ve looked at, and are considering. After you sign a lease or purchase agreement, keep all of the paperwork associated with that (contracts, listing sheet and notes, inspection reports, etc.).
  • Mortgage – File all paperwork associated with your current and new lender, as well as the title companies handling the closings.
  • Current Home – If you are selling your current home, keep the listing agreement, marketing sheet, inspection report, receipts for improvements or repairs, etc. in here.
  • Physical Move – Keep copies of all quotes, estimates, contracts, inventory sheets. Remember that the moving company is going to, at some point, have control of all of your worldly possessions.
  • Relocation Info – Corporate moves come with policies that you need to be familiar with and refer to regularly.
  • Schools / Child Care – Keep track of recommendations and research as well as paperwork you will need to submit (immunization records, transcripts, etc.).
  • Community Info – File doctor recommendations, grocery or specialty stores, parks, area attractions, etc.
  • Banking

Take Advantage of the Opportunity that Moving Presents

Moving has one enormous hidden benefit that I like to remind my clients of. It is an outstanding opportunity to take stock of your possessions and create a more ordered life in your new home. The longer you have lived in your current home, the more stuff you have probably accumulated. This is the time to take a good, hard look at all of it and make conscious decisions about what you want to take with you.

Be Ruthless With your Decluttering

If you are paying for the move yourself, you are paying to throw things out hundreds of miles away. Even if you aren’t paying for the move, you are still the one that will have to deal with all of that stuff – in addition to everything else you will have to deal with. Sell, donate, or discard it before you move.

  • Will you be moving from a cold climate to a warm one (or vice versa)? Get rid of clothing, sporting goods and equipment, yard care tools that you won’t use anymore.
  • Did you move into this house with a four-year old child, but are moving out with a high school sophomore? Donate those old toys, games, DVDs, books, etc. that have been gathering dust.

Remember That You Will Have to Find a Place for All of This

For a treasured memento of a great trip, a beautiful piece of art, or a sentimental heirloom, you will easily find the space in your new home. But think long and hard about whether you really want to go through all of that effort for a long-ago gift that you’ve never really loved or an uncomfortable piece of furniture.

  • Are you moving into a smaller home? Think about the furniture you have. Now might be a good time to let go of some things that you no longer need or love.
  • How is your life changing along with this move? Set up your new house to reflect the life you are going to be living there.

Make Moving a Family Project

All hands on deck! Your spouse, partner, older kids – everyone but the family pet – has a part to play in this adventure.

  • If you have school-age or older kids, let them take the first pass at decluttering their stuff. If you have lived in your current house for a long time, they almost certainly have toys, clothes, school papers, books, etc. that they no longer want or need. Now is the time to let them go.
  • Donate beloved but outgrown items to friends, neighbors, charities. If you decide to sell them at a garage sale, consider letting your kids keep the money from the items that they contribute.
  • Take pictures of things that were special but won’t be going with you. If you (or your child) have the time, energy, and creativity, make a photo album.
  • Get them excited about the new place. Find something unique and interesting about it. Every place has something. You may have to dig a little harder some places than others, but you’ll find it. Plan to visit soon after you move in.
  • Help them plan out their new room. Maybe it’s time to replace their bed, or furniture; get new bedding; or rethink the color scheme of their room.

Move In Before You Move Out

This idea is the cornerstone of the move out services that Your Ordered Life provides. The more you can do ahead of time, the smoother your move in will go on the other end.

  • Create a map of your current home vs. your new home. You will obviously have a kitchen and at least one bedroom and bathroom. But you may have fewer or more bedrooms, living areas, garage stalls, etc. So, think about which rooms will serve what purpose.
  • Relocate items to the room that they will occupy in the new house before everything gets packed. Our stuff has a way of wandering when we’ve lived somewhere for a while. This is your chance to restore order.
  • Label boxes for the destination, not the origin. For example, perhaps your kids play in the basement of your current house but will have a playroom in the new house. Make sure the boxes of toys in the basement are all labeled ‘Playroom’, not ‘Basement’.
  • If you are being packed by professional movers, make signs for each room in the house and hang them on the door and at least one visible wall. That way, they know how to label the boxes.

Pack Your ‘Ready Box’

Before any packing starts, make sure that you have put aside the things that need to go in your ‘ready box’. This is the box that you will either take with you or unload first. It has the things you will need immediately when you get to your new home.

  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • A cup, plate, bowl, and utensils for each family member
  • Snacks
  • Drinks
  • Dish soap
  • Hand soap
  • Chargers for phones, electronics
  • Box cutter or knife
  • Basic tools (screwdriver, hammer or mallet, pliers, measuring tape)
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie
  • Pen and paper
  • First-Aid kit (bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, etc.)
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lens solution, shampoo, etc.)
  • Medications – Bring more than you think you’ll need. If the movers are delayed, you’ll be glad you did.
  • Food and medications for pets
  • Entertainment for the kids

Pause if Possible

If there is any way to build in a period of a few days between closing and move-in, do it! It is so much easier to get your new home ready when it’s empty.

  • Have the carpets professionally cleaned or replace any undesirable flooring.
  • Deep clean the whole house. Hire someone or you can do it yourself. It will never be easier to get every corner of the place scrubbed down than it is now.
  • If you plan to paint any rooms, this is the time. The place is empty, and you can air it out for a couple of days.

Next time, we’ll talk about moving in!