Moving Checklist: What Kind of Psycho Are You?

Have you ever misplaced your car keys inside an Old Navy bag stuffed with bras you couldn’t bear to have smooshed so you packed them with oranges that went rotten before you found them—the keys, that is. Well, and the oranges. We’re not even going to talk about the bras.


Even if you move because you’ve found a situation you prefer over your old one, you are not exempt from the crazy.

It’s just a matter of which type you are.

The Procrastinator

Checklist, shmecklist. You spend 90% of your time on a problem that’s 10% of what’s important. On deadline, you pull all-nighters like a dentist pulls teeth—which leaves holes in your sanity.

If this is you, try:

  1. Setting aside chocolate chips or Andes mints—something small to be used as a daily reward. Be sure to reward yourself often. Studies show positive encouragement—even from yourself—is the surest way to motivate. Try writing down each task you accomplished, creating the opposite of a to-do list. It’s a GOT-DONE list.
  2. Organize your time by postponing work in a strong area until you take a baby-step in a weak area. For example, say you’ve packed the den, but can’t face the phone calls needed to book your moving day personnel. Don’t allow yourself to pack the garage until you at least get the truck reserved. Use a simple printable checklist for moving.
  3. Be aware of time passing. Procrastinators enjoy focusing on tasks deeply, until time “stands still.” Um, except that three hours just slipped by. Set timers. Have a daily countdown until The Big Day.
  4. Dude, you’re a procrastinator. Factor that in to your estimates of how long each task will take. It’s okay. It’s part of loving yourself the way you are.

The Pack Rat

In our early 20’s, my husband and I moved from a studio apartment to a duplex, and I thought my storage problems were over. Wrong. When we later moved into a  small home, I thought the same thing. Wrong again. The storage space was not the problem. We were the problem. If we have 120 linear feet of shelf space, we acquire 180’s-worth of things within seconds of entering the door.

If you buy stuff routinely (you do) but don’t get rid of stuff routinely (semi-annually at least), you have a hoarding problem. Owning too much overloads your working memory, kills your processing-speed, and basically makes you batty. Here’s the low-down:

  1. Moving forces you to face your clutter. This is good! It may seem overwhelming, but items entered the house little by little and they leave the same way. Try visiting a blog with home organization tips.
  2. If possible, don’t pack yet. Instead, start in one room and sort items into:
    1. Trash
    2. Give-away
    3. Critical items (items you need daily, like shoes and toiletries)
    4. Short-term storage (items that can stay packed during the moving process, like books)
    5. Long-term storage (items already considered storage, like Christmas decorations)
  3. As you sort, think like a retail store does. We all know time is money, but stores know space is money, too. Customers demand a navigable space where products are accessible. Before a store can stock more items, it must purchase more shelf-space, and that means paying a higher lease at a bigger store. The same is true for your new home. The cost of your home per square foot is hundreds of dollars. It dwarfs the replacement cost of a pair of lacrosse shoes you haven’t worn since middle school.
  4. When sorting is complete, remove trash and give-away items from your home.
  5. Gather critical items together.
  6. Pack short-term storage into boxes.
  7. Spend a few hundred dollars buying matching plastic storage bins for all long-term storage items. They act as moving boxes and keep you organized once you’ve moved in. Double bonus.

The Crisis-Mover

Sudden moves brought on by death, divorce, eviction, job loss, or other negative events can create a genuine crisis. If you find yourself in this camp:

  1. Breathe. Life happens.
  2. Assemble help.
    1. Ask for specific favors. You may balk at asking a neighbor to watch your kids day and night for a week, but being proactive about getting your family into a stable situation helps everyone. Don’t wait for the situation to deteriorate further.
    2. The more people you assemble to help, the less you fatigue any one person. Look to churches and youth service groups. Put out calls on social media.
    3. If you are able to, provide treats or food to volunteers. And say thank you!
  3. Ditch doing things “right” and get through the move.
    1. Schedule a moving truck and assemble volunteers.
    2. Throw away obvious garbage and pack everything else. You’ll go through it later.
    3. On moving day, have boxes and/or large, sturdy garbage sacks for volunteers to use in moving you. Lack of container-space is the bane of sudden moves.
  4. Once in your new place, use check a list like this one to get after those stray to-do items, such as switching your utilities and forwarding your mail.
  5. The move is over, and it’s time to take steps to ensure you’re able to stay on your feet. Give back to your friends and family where possible. It’s empowering to be on the other side of giving. And you could use some bold moves after your crisis-move!

The Stress Case

You are a list-maker. You list-make in the shower and during family meals and in bed at 4 a.m. and at 5 a.m. and at 6 a.m. and you know you’re less than a minute from a panic attack at all moments and STOP AND READ THE STEPS ALREADY.

  1. Get proper rest. Put the list aside in time to unwind for the night. Try meditation.
  2. Pay attention to your emotional and mental health. Make a check box for daily happiness, setting aside at least a half an hour. Try to focus on social things, like playing with your toddler or meeting a friend for lunch.
  3. Use a robust checklist for moving that does much of your thinking for you.
  4. Plan to experience failure. Will you forget something during the move? Absolutely. Something really, really important? YES! Okay, maybe not, but even if you do, you’re capable. You can fix these problems—and fixing them is much less effort than you would spend stressing about every what-if.

So . . . which crazy do YOU need to conquer? No matter what it is, don’t forget the final step of every moving-day checklist: make sure to enjoy your new home! To save money while you buy or sell homes, visit our Buy Any Home page or sign up to sell with Homie today.