You’ve finally found your new home, and the only thing left to do is the most dreaded; packing! You can make packing for a move a positive experience, and start over in better shape than you were in your old home. It’s all about learning to pack efficiently, so let's get packing with these great tips!

Don’t take what you don’t need!
The first rule of packing efficiently is to not pack what you don’t need. As soon as you learn that you will be moving, it’s time to simplify your packing and de-clutter. Start this process, one room at a time where you go through all your belongings and get rid of everything you no longer want or use. If you’ve lived in your home for awhile, this can be a tremendous amount of “stuff." Be ruthless! If you don’t use it and you don’t have a significant sentimental attachment to it, you don’t need it. Have a yard sale or donate to charity, but make sure it is all gone long before you begin to pack, or you may start having second thoughts. This is one of the single most important things you can do to prepare for packing efficiently for your move!

Start early, stay organized.
Don’t wait to start packing the day before the moving company arrives. At least several weeks before, locate boxes and packing materials. Start taking apart furniture or other items you don’t regularly use. Use Ziploc bags to hold hardware, and place a label inside the bag in case it is separated from its item. If you can clear out a room ahead of time that you can use just for packing, do so. Have lists printed that you can attach to each box so you can record its contents. Start eliminating perishables from your refrigerator, and make plans for moving plants.

More, more, more boxes!
Most people underestimate how many boxes they will need. Doing so will force you to pack heavier with less organization, and items will get broken and lost. Once you make an estimate of how many boxes and packing material you need, add 50 percent on to the total. You can always sell unused boxes back to the company you bought them from, or on sites like Craigslist. Not having enough boxes or packing material will create significant stress while packing for a move. Make sure that you also have proper materials for items of extraordinary value such as antiques and glassware that requires special care.

Make a new home kit.
Before you start your major packing, create a “kit” for your new home. These will be items you will need before the movers deliver your personal goods. Cleaning supplies, personal items for each family member, items for babies or toddlers, towels, and all your important papers should be among this kit. Make sure this is placed somewhere that the movers can’t even find it, perhaps in a car, or at a neighbors.

Keep items together.
When you are overwhelmed with the idea of packing, just take it one step at a time. Pack one room at a time and consider color coding each room’s boxes with stickers. Keeping like items together will make unpacking a much more enjoyable experience. And label, label, label!

Leave no thing behind!
No matter what the movers tell you, make sure you thoroughly check to make sure all boxes have been packed. There won’t be much you can do once they are gone if you open a bedroom door to find they forgot something.

You can pack efficiently, if you take the time to do it right. Getting rid of all your excess stuff long before you pack the first box is important. Then follow a plan, and get packing!

Want free home and garden ideas? Kathy Wilson is an author, columnist and home decorating expert. To read more articles by Kathy, visit her websites: The Budget Decorator and Decorating Your Small Space.