By Vance Stevens
Special to

With the most difficult part of the moving process behind you it's time to roll up your sleeves and start unpacking. Just like you had a plan when you packed away your belongings, having an unpacking plan will keep you organized and settled into your new home before you know it. Before getting started, here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, as you unpack, be sure to flatten out boxes and throw away all used packing materials. This will help keep you organized and prevent useless clutter from slowing you down later. Second, don’t be afraid to put people to work, kids included. Moving is a team game, so don’t hesitate in delegating tasks. Trust us, you’ll thank yourself later. Third, don’t forget about breaks. Of course, you want this over with, but not giving yourself time to rest will only add to your frustration. Finally, don’t be afraid of the trash can. Throwing things away can be more challenging than expected. We love are things, and at times we find it hard to part with even our most insignificant belongings, however, you must be strong. Keeping things around simply because you are afraid to throw them away will only add heartache down the line.
Now that we know the basics, let’s get to it.

Start right away.
Putting off unpacking is easy, and before you know it, a month will go by and boxes will still be lingering in the hallways. Getting to it right away will help you remember where things are, saving you from future headache and clearing room for you to begin enjoying your new home.

Start unpacking by unloading and placing large furniture first. This includes couches, coffee tables, beds, dressers, etc. Putting the large pieces in their place will help give some structure to the rooms, making it easier to unpack smaller items later. Tip: do not block entrances. Be sure to move furniture as far from the doorway as possible.

Next, hook up any appliance you may need. This could include the dishwasher, refrigerator, washer and dryer, etc. Tip: this is a good time to identify where outlets are located, to help avoid burying them behind boxes later.

Unload your suitcases and survival box. These boxes will give you access to all the things you will need in over the next 24 hours. Set them aside, and remember to place them out of the way. Easy access to these boxes is important.

Unload the boxes.
Start by separating boxes by room. All boxes with kitchen supplies should be placed in the kitchen, and all boxes marked “bathroom” should go in the bathroom, and so forth. This will save time and reduce chaos later.

Once you have unloaded all of the boxes and placed in their appropriate rooms, it’s time to unpack the important boxes and layout any possibly delicate items. Don’t worry about unpacking everything at this point, just the essentials. You will find this technique more effective than completely unpacking one room at a time. Start in the kitchen by unloading any perishables and food into the refrigerator and pantry. After the kitchen, move on to the bathroom. Get towels up on the rack, soap on the sink, toilet paper on the roll and the toothpaste in the drawer. Next, head to the bedrooms and make up the beds with sheets and pillows, just in case unpacking requires a day two -- the last thing you will want to do is make your bed at the end of an exhausting day of unpacking.

Now, you can go back and begin unpacking everything that is left. Start in the kitchen and work your way from room to room until everything has found its place. Be sure to break down boxes as you go (a perfect time to practice teamwork), and try to separate trash from recyclables.