Packing to move is never fun; it’s a lot of time-consuming work. But it pays to do it right. I once had a client who left it to the last minute and had her young children quickly box the things in their own bedrooms. Her little boy – elementary school age at the time – literally grabbed every item and threw them willy-nilly into boxes. One box included a half-eaten sandwich on a plate, and his ant farm. That worked out well for his ants, but it’s not a box I would have wanted to open in the new house! To have a less stressful and more organized move, consider these packing tips:

Purge first – Is an item worth boxing and moving? If not, put it in a donation pile. You will be amazed at how that pile will grow. You don’t even have to haul it away; many firms will pick up your contributions. After you move into your new house and are surrounded by seemingly endless stacks of boxes, you’ll be glad you lightened your load.

Consistent box sizes – If you use four box sizes (small, medium, large, extra large), instead of many miscellaneous sizes, you will be able to neatly stack them before and after your move. This will add a small level of organization to an inherently chaotic situation.

Box by room – To make unpacking less time-consuming and confusing, box only each rooms’ content together. The exception for this is oversized items.

Duct tape color-coding for each room – For every room of the new house use a different color of duct tape on that room’s boxes, or at least on the tops and down the sides. On the door of each room or the adjacent wall, indicate the color of the taped boxes that should be placed inside. This is extremely helpful for movers who are usually moving fast and may not speak English.

Indicate box content – Write on each box – both the top and at least one facing side – what’s generally inside. If you like to be even more organized, number each box and keep a log of its exact content. This is especially handy for the kitchen. It takes quite a while to unpack every box, and you may really need to know where the margarita salt is!

Pack considering weight – Pack heavy items, such as books, in small boxes. Larger heavy items should be placed on the bottom of boxes with lighter items, such as pillows or lamp shades, offsetting them atop.

Box by category – When possible, keep like things together. This makes unpacking easier. Also, if there isn’t enough room in your new home for something, you can easily store it.

Electronics and appliances – Did you squirrel away your original electronic or small appliance boxes somewhere? If so, drag them out to use. But before you unplug those electronic cords, snap a few pictures of the connections so you know how to recreate them.

Pack ahead of time – Several weeks out from your move, start packing items you don’t need, especially those that require more time and patience like decorative items and extra sets of dishes or glassware.

The closer you come to your move date, the less stamina you will have for packing. The sooner you do it the less chance you’ll find yourself at your new house opening a box crawling with well-fed ants.

Karen is the owner and managing broker of KL Realty, and has more than 29 years of experience in the Boulder County real estate market. Contact Karen at KL Realty, call 303.444.3177, e-mail [email protected] or visit