Have you ever  lost something after a move? Or found yourself digging through box after box, hunting for that one thing you need? When you have piles of boxes or storage units full of plastic bins, valuable time and money can be wasted hunting. But for a little time and effort, all that can change. Anyone can keep organized during a move and never lose a thing again. It just takes a little preparation and a system to stick to.

Before you pack anything, it's important to decide on what system you will use to stay organized. Grouping things together (kitchen with kitchen, tools with tools, etc) can help no matter what method you use. Don't start packing until everyone is on the same page and understands your plan. If you have lots of help, it can save time to have one person dedicated to inventorying your boxes.

One great way of keeping organized I call the Packing Slip system. Similar to the way a warehouse works, an inventory sheet is taped to the side of each box. It doesn't need to be fancy. Post cards or scrap paper work great, and they can later be torn off and the box reused once the move is complete. If you're not moving a lot of stuff, or only larger items in boxes, I would suggest this as the way to go.

Another system I like uses a spreadsheet or word processing document to inventory everything. This works especially well if you have lots of smaller items to keep track of, or want to inventory you book or CD libraries. As you pack, you'll create a list of everything going into the box on a computer document. Assign each box a letter or number, or both (such as K1, for kitchen box 1), and type it  in next to your computerized list. Also, be sure to write the code on the box. Each box will have its own list and code. Later, when you need to find something, you can open up your file and use the search function in your document to see what box it was packing into, and voilà! No need to search through dozens of boxes; simply find the box with the correct code.

Here is an example:

Box B1

  • book light
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Stephen King books
  • Michael Crichton books
  • bookends

Box A3

  • framed photos
  • calendar
  • fridge magnets
  • big blue candles
  • cat figurine
  • coasters

It's helpful to label your boxes on three sides, so that no matter how you pack or stack them you can see the code. Using this system, you can also print out your lists and tape them to the boxes if you won't have access to your computer for a while. Another bonus of this method is if you are going to keep things in storage, you can easily add to or edit your lists as you add or remove things from the boxes.

The key to staying organized during a move is picking a system to use and keeping with it. No matter which system you use, you can now look forward to knowing you can easily find what you need. So what are you waiting for? It's time to get packing!