Labeling your moving boxes will save you time and effort in the long run.

In mid-March, a favorite client announced she was moving to the sunny side of her condo building. We’ve worked together for over a year, reviewing a lifetime of belongings, including many boxes of hastily dumped together photos, junk mail, important documents and correspondence dating back to the 50s. The memorabilia includes family histories, craft supplies, uncollated addresses, and newly discovered secrets—all woven together by stories of the past and plans for the future. But we still have more to do …

I knew that maintaining our continuity throughout a pack, move, and unpack was going to be a challenge. Could I help my client get packed in an organized way if she didn’t want to pay professional organizer rates for this task? How could I work with the movers without stepping on my client’s toes? My head was spinning from the seemingly endless questions I mulled over during late-night worry-fests.

Well, I still don’t have the answers to those questions. Because—fortunately for me—the problem was solved by my client. Three weeks before the moving date, she asked me to pack everything, coordinate the movers, and do a slow unpack (which is still in process).

This gave me the opportunity to sort and organize boxes as I packed everything up. Unlike the hodge-podge of unrelated stuff I frequently encounter when going through boxes packed by movers, I was able to prioritize and pack needed items together, box up related books, and sort through shelves to bundle precious display items together.

Most importantly, I labeled each box with detailed descriptions of the contents. Labels included:

  • Open me first! Desk top supplies (stapler, stamps, envelopes)
  • Office printer and paper, ink; pencil sharpener; file folders
  • Don’t unpack: Heirlooms (Grandmother’s fine china)
  • Kitchen utensils and pots
  • Fragile art work from RH shelves (tall green pottery, Indian pieces)
  • Fragile art work from LH shelves (china dogs, family pictures)
  • Nonfiction, philosophy and government
  • Novels
  • In Process: Unsorted stuff to start on in May.

So far, unpacking has been easy, with no surprises.

Labeling takes a little more time during the packing phase, but makes unpacking go swiftly, with no “mystery boxes” that get unpacked only to yield disappointing results. Best of all, we still know which boxes contain the stuff we need to sift through, once we get back to organizing. No more late-night worry-fests!

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