There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and…moving. According to the US Census Bureau, the average American moves 12 times during his or her lifetime! That’s a lot of bubble wrap.
Whether you are moving across the hall (I’ve actually done this, and it was surprisingly hard) or across the country, there are a lot of elements to consider when undergoing a move. Keeping all of that information in your head is basically not an option, unless you have either a photographic mind or an affinity for self-punishment.
When working with a client who is moving, many professional organizers provide a binder to keep all paper items related to the move in one easy, transportable location. At Organizers Northwest, we often participate in all aspects of a client’s move, from decluttering their current home to unpacking the new space. The moving binder is a great way for us to help get a client started when they are feeling overwhelmed. The good news is that you can create a binder of your own too!
When my husband and I moved from our downtown apartment to a two story spec house in SE Portland, we had a lot of juggling to do. Not only were we handling the loan documents and other items related to the purchase of our home, but we were also responsible for choosing all of the paint colors, trim, hardwood flooring, carpet, and other fixtures in the home. To keep all of this straight, I put a binder together. Looking back, I can’t imagine how we would have stayed organized without it.
Here’s What you Need to Get Started
To create your binder, gather following materials:
- Binder of your choice. We like 1.5 inch binders, since they are a bit easier to use, and you shouldn’t need a 3 inch binder unless you are planning to move to Uzbekistan.
- Tab dividers. We strongly recommend these ones from Avery. They have extra long tabs so that they are visible when the binder is closed, and slash cut pockets so that you can quickly stash papers in the front of each tab when on the go. They come in packs of eight or five tabs.
- Sheet protectors. These are optional, but if you add them to each tabbed section, you don’t have to punch holes in your actual papers – just slide them into the sleeves.
- Printed Calendar Pages. Even if you have a personal calendar, it’s worth printing the calendar pages that pertain to your move and adding them to the front of your binder. This site gives you a quick downloadable file of your choice of months. This is a great way to plan and mobilize your to-do list.
- Some other items you might like to make available are a zippered pouch for the front where you can store post it notes and a sharpie (the top two organizers go-to necessities), pens and pencils, and any other items you might like to have handy.
Now You’re Ready to Build your Organizing Binder
Now that you’ve gathered the materials, you just need to put your binder together!
- Add your tabbed files and page protectors to the binder.
- Create tab categories. This is important. Everyone has different needs, so your categories will vary greatly from move to move. Some good examples are: receipts, contacts, specs, loan documents, design samples, brochures, to-dos and anything else you can think of.
- Add your papers! Once you’ve created the binder, walk around and gather all documents, receipts and other papers that have been floating around and driving you crazy. And if you’re ahead of the game, you’ll be all organized when they do begin to appear.
- Print checklists. If you really want to go gangbusters, search for printable moving checklists. The internet is awash with them, and these can be really helpful to add to your binder. For a printable checklist of businesses to notify when you move, head over to our blog article on the topic, A Professional Organizers Tips for a Stress-Free Move.
- Communicate with the family. Be sure to alert your spouse or partner about the binder so that they know how it works and where to find what they need too. Choose a central location to keep the binder so that it is easily accessible to all.
The great thing about this binder is that you can create one and reuse it for other big events. These are great for planning a wedding or other large event, a big project at work, or just to have at home to keep important reference documents together in a Household Hub, as seen in our past blog post: Organizing the Household Paper Trail: Tip #1. They also make a great gift for a friend or elderly parent who needs support.
We would love to hear from you on how you might use this binder to organize for your move. If you have additional tab ideas to contribute, please comment below!