The Best Way To Pack For A Move - Cleaning Q&A

10/05/2011 02:34 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

I moved to my new place in February, yet there's an alcove in my apartment that still has about 3 large boxes of stuff. I have no idea what's in there and the boxes are so big...that I just never get the energy to tackle them. I have fantasies about just throwing them out, but obviously, not the best idea. How can I a. tackle the project and b. make sure it never happens again?

There is absolutely a way to prevent this from ever happening again. When our company, DwellWell, coordinates a move we always start by organizing everything before it gets packed, what we call "pre-packing". The key to pre-packing is to sort everything by category, all like items together. Once sorted, you will be able to assess what you have and purge what you don't need to take with you. For smaller items such as batteries and electronic cords consider organizing them into labeled bins by category so they are organized and ready to unpack in your new home. Number each packed box and keep an inventory of its contents. Label the boxes according to their destination so the movers can deliver them to the right room. This cuts out any guesswork and eliminates mystery boxes labeled "junk from drawer in nightstand."

Speaking of mystery boxes, let's talk about yours. We're sad to report that there's no magic solution here. The good news is that you've gone a long time without the items in these boxes so chances are you don't really need much in there. Unpacking will be a cinch, we promise.
Set up a staging area for three categories: trash, donate, keep. Then purge those boxes with reckless abandon. Items that are in good condition should be donated to your favorite charity. I would avoid "gifting" items to friends or family because it makes for a lot more work, creates clutter in your home and adds one more thing to your to do list. The items that you are keeping should be absorbed into the rest of your home with other things in its category. Inviting a friend over to help be a cheerleader or offer an outside perspective might seem like a good idea, but something worth keeping to them might just be clutter in your home. So choose your cheerleader with precision. I'd urge you to give it a shot on your own before calling in back-up. If you find yourself excitedly saying, "I forgot I had this," remind yourself how long you went without it. Do you really need it?