Being a fairly typical Gen X, I’ve moved myself and my friends more times than I can remember now. I’ve become really good at packing my own stuff and other people’s, and here’s what I’ve learnt: the packing process is always going to be fairly horrible, but you can make the actual move and the unpacking process a whole lot easier if you follow some simple guidelines and basically pack as though everything is going into storage.
There are two main parts to this concept, and the first is always pack by category rather than location. Most of the time the items will be specific to the room they are coming from and going to, and pots and pans will go from kitchen to kitchen without any major need for decision making.
Where packing by category is important is usually for more decorative objects or collections. For instance, you may have framed pictures in every room so the temptation is to pack the bedroom ones in a bedroom box and the living room ones in the living room box etc. I don’t like this method for several reasons, but the main one is that unless you are moving into an identical space then you are going to move things around and at that point you will have to have absolutely every box unpacked to know where everything is.
And of course, the more stuff you own the longer it will take to unpack, and by that time are you going to remember that the picture of Aunty Ethel was next to the prayer flag she brought back from Tibet on the chest of drawers in the third bedroom?
Not everything you own will fit into carefully defined collections of course, and not every collection will fit the correct number of boxes. But when you start packing start with a number of boxes all taped up and ready to go and only close one up when it’s full.
As an example, at the end of packing up a bedroom you may still have several open boxes that only have a few things in them, framed photos in one, books in another, paperwork in a third. Take those three boxes into the next room and continue sorting and packing.
The potential exception to this rule is children’s rooms, but I believe that the sorting process is still valuable. In that case you would either put all the leftovers in the same box, put some paper in between the different collections, and label the box something like “Kid A books/ papers/ pictures” or else take them to the next room (again with a sheet of newspaper or whatever you are using in between the collections to save on arguments about what belongs to whom) and label the boxes “books – Kids A and B” and so on.
The collection process needs to make sense only to you. I always had lots of books so I was able to separate them into fiction and non-fiction and then categorise them further by genre (I don’t actually remember how many boxes were just for fantasy novels, but it was probably more than for uni textbooks). Nowadays I have one and a half boxes of books in total so last time I just packed them all and put the cds and dvds on the top of the second and called it “books/entertainment media” and I knew it was all of my physical library.
This brings me to the second major component of the packing system. Stay tuned for next week’s post on the importance of a good labelling system.