Half of my stuff is in boxes. To-do lists sprinkle the table and bulletin board. My husband is asking, again, "OK babe, what else can I do for you?" All this could only mean one thing: it's moving time.

Having moved several times, including three times across the country and four times all by myself, I like to think I've gotten pretty good at it. Here, I'd like to give you my steps for getting your worldly possessions to your new home while keeping you in one piece.

1. Start early

Moving is stressful enough without doing everything at the last second. Things will inevitably come up to pull you away from the boring drudgery of packing, even if moving really is your top priority. By starting early, you give yourself plenty of wiggle room.

When I was in college, I packed during finals week. Worst. Idea. Ever. Not only did I have to study, I also had to throw everything I owned into plastic bins and then scrub every surface imaginable to get my deposit back. Like most of the projects I did in college, I wished I had started sooner so it wouldn't be so hectic. Don't make the same mistake.

2. Make a plan

Organization is an essential part of the moving process. Know which rooms you're packing when, what clothes you're going to wear while your wardrobe is in transit, and who is watching your kids while you double- and triple-tape all of those boxes shut. Write information like this down and keep it in a place that you will be able to find it despite the mounting chaos.

Before we moved, my husband and I broke down the month into structured weeks with set tasks. We also accounted for the time we would need to finish tasks from the previous day. Even if we don't adhere exactly to our plan, having it set out like that at least makes all the madness look possible.

3. Cut the crap

Why bother cleaning, packing, and moving something that you never use? As you pack, evaluate the items that you place in boxes. Have you used it recently? Do you even like it? If it turned out that you needed it later, would it be so bad to just buy a new one? If the answer to these questions is no, you might want to give it away. Books and movies collecting dust on the shelf can be donated to the library. Clothes you never wear can go to the thrift store. If any of the items are in particularly good condition, or if you know someone who would love to have them, consider selling them.

I'm embarrassed to admit to the amount of stuff we're giving away as we move. However, the decreased clutter, a tax write-off, and sweet peace of mind are hard to argue. Also, going through the piles of stuff to get rid of has made for some great conversations with my husband. We're more aware of each other's tastes in movies, cuisine and shoes. We have also strengthened our marriage by letting love be the center of it, not material possessions.

4. Get help

If you can convince other people to help move your stuff, there is no reason to do it all on your own. If you're forward-thinking, you can also help other people move so that you are in people's minds as a helpful sort of person who deserves some assistance.

The last time we moved, we were brand-new to town and my husband had to be in class all day. That left me hauling everything into our apartment all by myself. This time, we have several guys from the neighborhood coming to help, in exchange for the pizza we promised to order. You don't have to be above bribing people. It works.

When it's time to move, it's easy to feel like you've packed your sanity away with the kitchen appliances. It doesn't have to be that way, however. By starting early, you leave yourself time to make a plan, get rid of anything you don't actually want and beg for help putting boxes on the truck. Like eating an elephant, moving is best done one bite at a time.

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