Let’s face it: moving nearly always takes more time and energy than homeowners bargain for. You have a myriad of tasks to complete, from cleaning and packing to organizing the move itself. Fret not! With a little advance preparation, move day can be a smooth and stress-free operation.

Step #1: Write Things Down

While some store information easily in their head as they go along, most benefit from writing down things that need to be done. A simple to-do list helps organize steps that need to be completed and the order in which they must occur. Crossing items off a list will give you a sense of progress; this can provide motivation when everything seems up in the air.

Go one step further. Use a notebook. A three subject notebook allows you to create larger categories of tasks such as “Selling the House” or “Conversations with the Realtor.” Then, segregate specific sub-tasks into the appropriate category. If the notebook has a folder, use it to conveniently store important papers in a single location. Number all boxes and create and store a master list of items in each box. The possibilities are endless.

Step #2: Just do a Little at a Time

You have lined up a friend or family member who owns the all-important pickup truck. The pizza order is all lined up. You have penciled in moving day or weekend on the calendar. Empty boxes sit waiting; this is a common moving mistake. There is no need to wait to move until a given day. Yes, the move itself is usually scheduled around work or school, but moving is a process as well as an event.

As soon as you know when M-day will be, start cleaning and packing a little each day. De-clutter and downsize belongings as you go along. When reviewing whether household items are worth the time and cost to pack and move, consider selling or donating them instead. This will also create the necessary space for a staging area in which to store your packed boxes.

Step #3: Make Some Side Cash With a Sale

What’s more motivating than money? As you survey household belongings, inevitably there will be items that won’t make the cut. If you plan well enough ahead, schedule a garage sale and make some cash on the side. With enough planning, one can even advertise the sale with attractive signs that will ensure an enthusiastic turnout.

It may seem counterproductive, but consider cleaning up the items to be sold. The more appealing they look, the greater the likelihood they can sell for a better price. Few manage to get wealthy off a garage sale, but there is no point in low-balling the amount to be made by not preparing the merchandise in advance. Clean and repair gently used clothing, appliances and other pieces.

Finally, if an item does not seem worth selling but is not ready for the garbage, consider donating them to your local charity store. Remember: a move often costs more than one plans for. Use the sale to help fund the move and that will be one less thing to worry about.

Final Thoughts

Plan ahead for move day and treat it like a process as well as an event. When you realize that you are ready to set up the new abode while bidding goodbye to the old, you may be surprised to find yourself smiling and not scowling.