4 Simple Packing Strategies to Make Your Big Move Smoother

Catrina Cowart
Jun 09, 2022
Icon Time To Read6 min read

At a glance

Whether you’re staying local or moving across the country, there are some practical packing steps you can take that will make the process smoother. Here are four ways to organize your packing to help eliminate worry and ensure you leave nothing behind.

1. Three piles method

This method allows you to separate everything you own into three piles. It works well if you’re cleaning out your garage and prepping your entire place for a move across the country.

  • Supplies needed: standard moving boxes, packing tape, and trash bags
Looking for cheap moving boxes?

Not all packing boxes are created equal. Some hold up better during a move. Here is a guide to finding affordable moving boxes that will protect your items during transport.

The three piles method works like this:

  1. Start with a room with a lot of empty floor space. Move furniture to another area of your home if necessary.
  2. Designate three areas on the floor: throwaways or donations, items coming with you, and things you’ve yet to decide on.
  3. Go through every object, placing each in its appropriate pile.
  4. Once you’ve finished, go through the items in another room of your home and place them in the piles you’ve created in the original room.
  5. After you’ve gone through all your rooms, transport the donated items to a donation center and throw away or recycle any trash items. For more ideas on what and where to donate, check out this helpful donation guide.
  6. Pack the items going with you to your new home, and move them to your staging area for the moving truck.
  7. Review the items you need to reconsider, pack those you decide to keep, and give away or sell the rest.

You can use this method with the items you don’t need to access on a daily basis, leaving your furniture and essential items out until you or movers are ready for them on moving day. You can also choose to use bags or boxes for your three spaces, packing items as you go.

2. Future home method

This method focuses on the organization of your new home rather than the home you’re leaving. It’s a good option for moves where you already have a plan for each room in your new home.

Supplies needed:

  • Standard moving boxes
  • Packing tape
  • Trash bags
  • Permanent markers

This forward-facing method works like this:

  1. Clear out floor space in the garage or a room you can fill up with boxes and furniture.
  2. Set up a small box or large box for each room in the new home. Label each box appropriately. Include an extra box labeled “Donate” and a box of heavy-duty trash bags.
  3. Beginning in the first room, move items to the appropriate box. For example, stuff going to the master bedroom goes in the master bedroom box. Set furniture near the pile of boxes going to its corresponding room (don’t forget to use bubble wrap or packing paper for fragile items, or stretch wrap for corralling small objects.)
  4. When you fill a cardboard box, seal it up. Open and label a new box.
  5. Repeat these steps for every room in the home.
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What to do with all that junk

If you’re in the middle of moving, chances are you’re realizing you have a lot of things in your home that you no longer use or need. If you have a good amount of junk, consider hiring professionals to whisk it all away. We’ve evaluated some of the top junk removal companies from all over the country to help you do just that.

3. Moving helpers method

With this method, you designate specific tasks to each kind person helping you with your move. It’s best for in-town moves where you have friends and family on-site to help with the move on both ends.

Supplies needed:

  • Standard moving supplies
  • Communication channels
  • Notepads or spreadsheets

How this method works:

  1. Get a list of the people you are sure will participate in your move. This includes the people living in your home, plus anybody who has agreed to help.
  2. Make a list of the things needed to complete your move successfully. This should get down to the packing each room in the home, renting and driving any moving trucks, securing new keys and turning in the old, closing out utilities, and finalizing details with your moving helpers or moving company.
  3. Match each person on the first list with one or more duties on the packing list. For example, each child would be responsible for packing their own room (if they’re old enough), while your friend driving the moving truck would be on duty to rent, drive, and help load the truck.
  4. Create a timeline for each person and item, getting them to agree to when they’ll have each task finished. Follow up a day or two ahead to ensure they’re still on schedule.
Heads Up
The proper way to load a moving truck

Whether you’re a newbie at loading a truck or you’ve done it for countless other moves, you must load everything in the safest, most efficient ways possible to avoid any mishaps. Here are five essential steps for loading your moving truck.

This system works best when you know exactly who’s involved. If anybody on your list seems likely to mishandle or need help with their task (for example, a friend who tends to duck out on plans last minute or a child or teen who will need extra guidance), make sure you assign a backup person and set their timeline, so there’s space to get things done.

If extra people show up, delegate two or three tasks where many hands make the work lighter. Loading the moving truck, moving the furniture, and running errands are good examples.

Info Box
Best moving truck rental companies

If you need a rental truck, there are many for you to consider, depending on the size of your load and the distance you’re moving. We’ve evaluated the top moving truck rental companies across the country to help you choose the right moving truck for you.

4. Room-by-room method

The room-by-room method can be extremely satisfying because you get to celebrate partial progress. It’s a great way to pack homes with “extra” rooms you can live without for a couple of weeks.

Supplies needed:

  • Moving boxes
  • Contractor bags

Here are the steps involved in the room-by-room method:

  1. Choose a staging area for your move that is large enough to hold most of your possessions. In most homes, this will be the garage.
  2. Choose the room you use the least in your home that isn’t your staging area.
  3. Go through that room with a plastic bag, throwing away everything you want to discard.
  4. Go through the room you use least with a large box or bin, pulling out everything you intend to donate, sell, or give away.
  5. Move that box or container into your car or by the door for later.
  6. Pack all the remaining items in the room into boxes, then move them to your staging area.
  7. Move all the furniture in the room to the staging area.
  8. Vacuum and clean the room, then close the door. Pretend it doesn’t exist for the rest of your time in the home.
  9. Repeat Steps 2 through 8 for the other rooms in your home.
The 411 on moving supplies

Moving involves way more than boxes and tape. Our ultimate moving supply list has everything from appliances to cleaning supplies to packing materials to help you through your move. It even has an online calculator to determine the number of boxes you need.

The room-by-room method works best if you schedule each room’s treatment with your move-out date in mind. You can do your home office, guest room, and storage closet or storage unit early. Work on the bedrooms the week before your move, leaving the mattresses so you still have a place to sleep. In most homes, the kitchen items should wait until the morning of the move or the night before.

The takeaway

The packing strategy that is most appropriate for your situation depends on the details of your move, how much stuff you have, and who is helping you with your move. There isn’t a universal packing method, so it’s important to pick the process that fits your move best.

Remember that no move is perfect or completely worry-free, but you will enjoy the packing process more if you’ve organized ahead of time!

Would you like to learn more about packing strategies? Check out Move.org for How to Make Packing Easier.


How do you pack to move efficiently?

You can pack efficiently by setting aside donations and trash ahead of time, packing according to where items will go in your future home, or packing room by room. You can also make a list of duties and give responsibilities to each of your moving helpers to stay organized. For example, ask one person to pick up packing supplies, one person to fill smaller boxes, and one person to pack clothes in packing cubes.

How do you pack a house fast?

Packing a house can go more quickly if you’ve already decluttered and cleaned the space, designated boxes based on rooms in your future house, and made packing assignments for those who help. Remember to set aside luggage or an overnight bag so you have a few personal items ready before and after the move!

What should I pack first when moving a house?

It’s best to pack items you won’t be using when you’re moving a house, such as seasonal decorations, books, and out-of-season clothing. Pack heavy belongings at the bottom of the box, and use smaller boxes for the heaviest items.

Wait just a few days before the move to pack kitchen items and things you use frequently. Always leave toilet paper and other essential toiletries as well as cleaning supplies available throughout the moving process.

How can I pack my house in 30 days?

You can easily pack your house in 30 days by investing in packing supplies ahead of time, decluttering and donating unwanted items, recruiting friends and family to help, and giving out packing assignments to everyone who offers their moving services.

Recommended resources

At Move.org, it’s our goal to make moving less overwhelming and provide you with packing tips and ideas on how to make the most of your move. Take a look at our ultimate moving checklist that will help you through every stage of the moving process. Be sure to check out even more resources below:

Catrina Cowart
Written by
Catrina Cowart
Catrina Cowart has been writing full-time since 2009. Since starting as a writer and editor, she has worked with small business owners, retailers and others to produce marketable, SEO-ready content to boost their businesses. In her spare time, Catrina enjoys writing and illustrating children's books, traveling, and playing with her two small dogs.