Lindsay Smith
packing plan

So you’ve found a new apartment, gone through the application process and been accepted. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders … until you have to start packing.

Packing is one of the most stressful parts of moving because it involves trying to stay organized while going through all of your possessions item by item. And for those of us with a particularly large number of possessions, that becomes very complicated very quickly.

If you’re moving out of your apartment in the near future, there are ways to make packing less overwhelming. Here are some tips for creating a packing plan that will keep you organized:

Mark Your Calendar

As soon as your application has been accepted, settle on a moving date and mark it on your calendar. This lets you physically see how much time you have to plan, and makes scheduling a lot easier.

Go through the calendar day-by-day until your moving date and plan specific packing projects for each day.

If either your current or future apartment complex requires you to schedule moves ahead of time, set that up as soon as possible to get the best date.


Start Early

Once you have the moving date set up, start on some of the preliminary packing projects. The more time you have for decluttering, researching movers or moving trucks, and packing inessential items (such as decorations or rarely used appliances), the less you’ll need to do on moving day.

Enlist help

If you have a roommate moving with you, or friends or family that can help you, get their help as soon as you know you need it. They can help with the actual moving day or help you with the various decluttering and organizing tasks you face along the way.

Declutter and Donate

The less you have to move, the easier moving day is going to be. So before you start packing up, go room by room and decide what to save and what to get rid of. Don’t wait until you’re packing things up, because doing both at the same time can be overwhelming.

Sort through everything in each room and start getting rid of anything you don’t use. If the item is broken, stained or otherwise unusable, simply toss it. If it’s in good condition but you haven’t used it in several months, put it in a donation pile. If you didn’t even remember you had the item until you found it, put it in the donation box – you don’t need it, no matter how much you think you could justify it.

Figure Out What You Need

Once you’ve gone through everything and (hopefully) downsized, you’ll have a much better idea of how many boxes and other moving supplies you’ll be needing. Start gathering enough moving boxes or bins for each room, along with packing tape and a lot of packing paper or newspaper.

Check out your local grocery or liquor store to see if they have any extra boxes you can use to save a little money . If you have a lot of breakables, you may want to invest in some bubble wrap to keep everything perfectly safe.

Create a Packing List

No, you don’t have to make a complete packing list of all of your belongings. You should make a priority list of all the items you use most. That way, you can keep them all together and easily find them once you’re at the new apartment.

Also consider making a list of everything you’ll need right away at the new place, like essential bathroom supplies, bed sheets and some kitchen utensils. You can pack those items together in one box so you’ll immediately have everything you need when you get there.

Pack Like Youre Going on Vacation

In addition to the big items you need immediately, you should have the absolute essentials easily available. Pack a suitcase like you’re going for a trip, so you don’t have to pull your clothes out of a box when you get up or dig through the bathroom boxes when you need to brush your teeth. You’ll probably need these items before you’ve opened a single box and having them handy saves you a lot of unnecessary hassle.

Organize Items for the New Apartment, Not the Current One

Many people pack room by room, but that might not work if your new place has a drastically different setup. Make a list of the rooms you’ll have at your new apartment and organize your belongings that way to make the unpacking process that much easier. Packing each box for a specific room will save you some confusion.

If you want to go even further, take pictures of all items going in each box. Then, when you’re trying to find things in your new place, you can just scroll through the gallery on your phone and quickly find which box contains which items.

Make Use of Easily Wasted Space

You’re going to have space sitting unused, unless you’re careful to use it. Since you’re going to be moving suitcases and other bags anyway, you should use them as additional storage space. Some furniture items can also be used, but take care – they’re often already quite heavy, and one stray sliding drawer or opened door could make a mess and cause more damage than it’s worth.

Keep One Room Intact Until the End

The process of moving is stressful, and if everything around you feels different and empty, that’s not going to help you. Keeping one room, or a space within a room, intact until moving day will give you somewhere to escape to when the stress is getting to you. It may not be the most efficient way to pack, but the extra sanity will more than make up for it.

Consider an App

There are several apps out there that make the packing and moving process a thousand times easier. The Sortly and Moving Day apps both offer unique ways to inventory your belongings and organize them by what box they’re in.

The Moving Planner app allows you to create a checklist for your move using one of their pre-populated checklist items or one you enter in yourself. Apps are a great way to organize any aspect of your move, including packing, unpacking and getting organization tips once you’re at the new apartment.

Remember: The more organized you are while packing, the easier the rest of your moving process will be!



About The Author

Lindsay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer who uses her deadline-oriented writing skills for clients like Apartment Guide,, Womensforum Media Group and Brafton.