The ABCs of Setting a Packing Plan

By Annika Mengisen
Special to

Anyone who's ever moved likely experienced that "deer in headlights" feeling when their entire household suddenly looms around them in menacing piles of stuff to be packed.

Some people panic and begin tossing everything into garbage bags or rolling up fragile items together in a newspaper and tossing them into moving boxes.

Even Sandee Payne, moving expert and author of the book "Move Your House," knows the feeling, which has helped her produce easy-to-follow tips for making the packing process a bit easier. They're perfect for when you have no idea where to begin.

1. Stay focused (and breathe). Concentrate on the room you’re standing in and prepare one room at a time.

Focusing on smaller individual tasks is always easier than trying to take on the whole job, Payne said.

2. Simplify. Let go of the things you don’t want before packing so you’re not tripping over half-dead house plants and remnants of your magazine collection when you’re trying to pack your living room.

3. Hold on to those comfort items -- like the stereo you’re using to blast some motivational AC/DC – and pack what you use least often first.

4. If items have many small pieces, (like desk items, collections and toiletries), take the time to pack them together in a clear plastic zippable bag.

5. Doing laundry can be therapeutic, and it's nice to have this done for after your move.

Make sure bed linens, blankets, pillows and towels are washed and dried and
place them in tall kitchen bags with a dryer sheet for freshness.

If you’re really ambitious (or anxious), wash and press your window treatments.

6. Get yourself a package of nice new Sharpies and write a detailed list of the contents in each box that you pack – you’re pre-emptively reducing unpacking stress and keeping yourself organized.

7. Create a household inventory. Payne suggests a written itemized list, videotaping or (for the tech-inclined) a digital photo library. While it takes some work, this step can help assuage moving anxiety and give you recourse if anything goes missing or gets damaged in the moving process.

Put receipts and warrantees for valuable items in a binder or envelope along with your inventory. Hand-carry this home inventory with you.