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Moving? Don’t forget the duct tape.

Congratulations!  A new chapter in your life is about to begin!

You’ve been planning, searching, researching, and dreaming, and now the reality of moving is hitting you.

Or smacking you in the face.

Or upside the head.

Whatever it’s doing, it’s time to start working, and it’s overwhelming.

The moving honeymoon is over, and the work is about to begin.

But, no need to fear!  I’m here to give you a quick and easy tip that will make this move just a bit easier on you.

I call this tip The Duct Tape Method, and I’ve used it for five moves now (in the past five years…we like to move, apparently).

To do this method, you need three different colored rolls of…(can you guess?)…duct tape!  I prefer to get red, yellow, and green, because their meaning is a bit universal and easy to remember, but you can use any three colors.  Just remember, if you’ve having friends come to help you move, the red, yellow, and green are easiest for them.

Red Tape Boxes

You know that time, about a month before the move, when you start to feel the urge to pack, but you wonder if it’s too early?  That is the perfect time to pack your red boxes.

Red boxes are filled with things you won’t need for months.  They are the non-essentials that are nice to have, but you don’t have to have.  Home decor and sentimental things are perfect for these boxes.

Go from room to room, packing up things that you can live without for a while.  Try to fill a box with things from one room, not two or three.  This will make unpacking easier and less confusing.  When a box is full, put a strip of tape on the box so that it drapes over a top edge, so you can see the color on the top and side of the box.  Then use a permanent marker to write the room it’s from on the duct tape.  Now it’s really easy to reference.

If you’re planning on purging as you pack (not something I necessarily recommend, but it may be easier for some), these red box items would be the most purgeable, since you’re already admitting that you can live without them for a while by designating them as “red.”  Since you’re starting this at about a month before the move, you have plenty of time to make a good decision instead of an impulsive decision done in the heat and pressure of the move that you may regret later.  Just set a good pace, do a few boxes a day, and get going.

Yellow Tape Boxes

When you’re done (or almost done), start packing those things that you can live without for more than a week, but you may need within a month or two of the move.  These are marked in yellow.  There won’t be nearly as many of these boxes are there are of red, but it’s important to make this differentiation between the two categories of stuff.

Again, just go through room by room and pack the boxes.  Try not to mix rooms or it makes unpacking more complicated.

It’s not too hard to pack yellow boxes.  By the time you’re done, you should only have things that you need on a regular basis left.

Green Tape Boxes

Can you guess what goes in these?

Yup!  Now that it’s a couple days until the move, it’s time to pack the green boxes with all of the stuff you need right away.  Just like before, go room to room and try not to mix rooms in the box.  It’s likely that a lot of these boxes will be for your kitchen, so get strong ones.


With everything packed up but what you’ll actually need during the move, you’re ready to pack your luggage and be on your way!  This is typically done the week leading up to the move (and often midnight on the day of…I mean, let’s be real here).  It can be done after the green boxes or during the same time.

These will hold your changes of clothes until you can get to your green boxes to unpack, your hygiene items, medication, etc.  For kids, this is where their favorite stuffed animals will be.  You know the drill!  It’s all the stuff you typically take on a trip!

How to manage the boxes

Now that they’re packed, what do you do with them?

Whatever you do, don’t just throw them into a moving van or storage unit!  You have an awesome system here, so now it’s time to use it!

When you put it in the moving van, take advantage of the easy color code system.  Put the green boxes in first, then yellow, then red.  This way, when you unload the van the red boxes will go into your home or storage unit first, then yellow, then green, so the green boxes will be the easiest to get to (if you’re putting things in a storage unit, the green boxes go with you to wherever you’ll be staying as you transition to your new home, and the yellow boxes will be in the front of the storage unit so you can access them if you need to during the transition).

Now you can start unpacking!  Tackle those green boxes first and enjoy finding those essential items nice and easily.  Then unpack your yellow, and finally your red.

Do you see the brilliance in this?!  No more going for weeks wondering where that special blanket is so your child will get some decent sleep.  No more having to buy items to tide you over until you can find the box that has them packed.  You don’t have to go crazy about labeling everything or keeping super detailed lists, but you still get the convenience of knowing you’ll get what you need just about when you need it.

And all you needed was duct tape and a permanent marker.

Happy moving!

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1 reply
  1. Dorese
    Dorese says:

    We have used duct tape to denote different rooms in the house, to make unloading the truck a breeze for people not familiar with our stuff, but I LOVE this method for keeping it organized for ME! <3


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