In 2013, when I began the process of packing up our then 1355 sq ft condo, my goal was to make sure that my husband and family would know where I wanted things to go and what was in which box, in case I was not able to be there. You see, I would be 7 months pregnant by the time we listed our house on the market. I knew there was a possibility that I wouldn't be able to help with the move and if I was there that I wouldn't be able to move around as quickly as I wanted since I was carrying the extra load that was my daughter. I also knew that I couldn't be everywhere at one time (at the condo, at the new house and at the storage shelter all at the same time). So knowing the goal, I set out to find a way to organize the move so anyone could jump in and help. Enter the creation of my Move Binder.
As I mentioned earlier, the reason I created the move binder was to provide instructions and guidance to anyone filling in for me if I wasn't available. I recommend everyone create a move binder, whether they are available or not as a way to have everything they need in one place. It enables you to quickly and efficiently manage the in's and out's of the move. As you could see in my 14 Tips When Organizing and Planning a Move post, there are a lot of things you need to do and keep track of when you are moving. A move binder just enables you to track things a little easier. Consider it your move book of knowledge that you refer to for all things move-related.
It was just what I needed! I had an old binder lying around and was able to begin the process. I based my room categories on what I had in my house that we were looking for in our new home. You see we hadn't yet bought the home...at the time the binder was created we were just decluttering and packing up extra stuff to prep to put the house on the market. I had to use my wanted rooms instead of my actual rooms. The categories I had were:
The next step was to color-code my rooms, so I could easily identify what boxes/items went in which space. I used the small circular dots you get from office supply stores. Luckily, I had found a package of prime color dots during one of my decluttering moments in my office and since that wasn't enough of a color variety (based on my room list) I went and picked up some pastel colors as well. I Then assigned each room a color. I don't remember all of the color assignments, but I do remember the Kitchen was red and my daughter's room was pink.
Your move inventory sheets are a running list of all your boxes per room and a high level and secondary level of what is in them. You don't have to write anything for the secondary level, but I found that some high-level categories needed more than one box (i.e., books). If I was looking for a specific author or book type, I could refer to the secondary level in the inventory. I could identify the room color and the box number based on the contents. You will find that the high-level description was helpful when looking at items when you didn't have the inventory sheet handy, but the inventory sheet was helpful when you were looking for that one specific item. The sheet also was helpful in determining how many boxes you had for one particular room. This would allow you to take a count to ensure all boxes were loaded and all boxes were delivered.
The kitchen map is something I absolutely fell in love with. You can't always do this step, but if you can it will be so very helpful for you or anyone else who is helping you unpack. To create this map you have to have photos of the kitchen. You can take these yourself during a walkthrough or you can create them from the online photos of the house. You want to number all of the cabinets and drawers. I actually created my map electronically by importing the photo into PowerPoint and overlaying the numbers on each drawer/cabinet (you can also do this in word or another app or by hand). In the notes section or on another sheet of paper, I listed the number and beside it what would be going in it. For example, Drawer 1: Everyday Silverware; Drawer 2: Dish Towels; Drawer 3: Tupperware, etc. This process is not only fun, but it allows you to dream a little and plan ahead too. You could also use your inventory to help you ensure you have identified a place for everything. When you get in the space you may change your mind, but having an idea of how it should go and having a plan so someone else can pitch in and help is beyond amazing! Needless to say, my kitchen was the easiest space to unpack and organize.
Room floor plans maps are similar to your kitchen map, except most rooms are empty. Instead of numbering the drawers and cabinets, you draw the walls of the room and then draw the pieces of furniture where you want them to go. The floor plans should also have a corresponding colored dot to that of the boxes that go into them. This way the movers aren't calling you asking you were or how the furniture should go...or worse yet they won't just sit the furniture haphazardly in the room. By having things clearly drawn out, at the end of move day most of your heavy furniture is where it belongs and boxes are stacked in the proper rooms out of the way. Click here to learn more about creating and using the floor plan maps.
The Pros of Using a Move Binder
Would I do this again? Heck yeah!!!! This system allowed me to know that I had X number of boxes for the living room. X number for the kitchen etc. I also knew at a glance which box number to look for if we were hunting for something specific. The storage facility not only looked heavenly but made it easy to locate things if we needed them. My mother even commented on how great it looked and how we were able to use every single inch. When we did finally get to the house and were beginning to unpack, the system was great because we knew to look for all the red dots when we were washing and putting up all the dishes. When I got ready to do the baby's room I knew to look for all the pink dots. It made those processes a lot easier.
In our case, the bad was the craziness of our move (not the normal situation) so we had to just go for what we knew vs the organized way I imagined/planned the move to be. Our house closing was delayed, and since we closed on our condo on the same day we had to be out of the house. We ended up having to move our house items before the storage unit items and all of the last-minute items that remained in our condo unpacked.
The first load that we unloaded, I was there to supervise and the guys began stacking the items by room/color in the garage, but as time slipped away, I was needed elsewhere and the garage got too full. The guys abandoned the color coding idea and they started piling it in...however it would fit.
Additionally, as with any space that hasn't been completely packed, the contents seemed to multiply, so there was no time to label and properly inventory those items and needless to say some items were lost because in a rush I don't know how they were removed from the house...my gut says they accidentally got mixed up with our last Goodwill run.
The Bottom Line - The move binder is a win-win and a definite keeper. Here are a few other posts that may help you with your move: