Before moving to Charlotte, the longest I lived in one house or apartment was two years (aside from my childhood home). I've turned moving into an art form of perfectly timed box collecting, newspaper curation, and streamlined loading and unloading - like a conductor of a well-tuned orchestra. Here are some of my tips to keep organized during a big move.
1. Plan ahead
Don't put off packing until the day before the big move. Once you have secured your new home, you'll have a better sense of what you'll need to pack and what can be sold or donated. If you will be moving into temporary housing, you may need to consider a temporary storage unit. A month before the big move, start de-cluttering your personal belongings to sell or donate. Consider having a yard sale. I once made $1200 on a weekend yard sale. Two weeks ahead, begin collecting boxes and packing materials. Collect different size boxes that are reasonable to carry for one person. Scavenge retailers for free boxes and grab a bunch of free local papers. Depending on the size of your house, allow a week to pack before the moving date. Give yourself a couple days to plan any cleaning after everything is moved out. Hire a cleaning company to clean the house and carpets after everything is packed and moved because the LAST thing you want to do is stick around and clean your old house.
2. Edit your belongings
Moving is a great time to sort through your belongings and keep what you need ultimately saving you money NOT moving the items you don't need. Start with items that you don't normally use. Pantry full of small appliances collecting dust? Time to edit. Winter wardrobe put away for the summer? Time to edit. If you haven't used it in a year, you probably don't need it. As far as your wardrobe goes, most organizers suggest getting rid of items you have not worn in the last year or that do not fit. I am a little more liberal; keeping clothing that is sentimental or one size up or down is acceptable to me because, you know, dessert. Collect your unwanted items and have a yard sale a couple weeks before the move. Anything leftover, donate to a local charity.
3. Use what you have
Do NOT go grocery shopping. Take a hard look at what is in your fridge and pantry and plan meals around what you already have to reduce the amount of food you have to move. Also a good time to get rid of any expired items. I use a lot of Rubbermaid bins for storing seasonal items that I use to pack breakables during a move. I also use bath towels to line containers and wrap dishes instead of spending money on specialized packaging that will only be used for moving.
4. Labels, labels, labels
I cannot emphasize this point enough. I put labels on the top and two sides of each box. You can print out forms like this one with your name, new address, and blanks to fill in where each box should go (eg kitchen, bedroom, dining, etc) and contents. I also tape two sides with the location where each box should go inside the new house, and if it is heavy or fragile.
5. Stay focused
Moving is a stressful time. Stay focused, take your time, and work room by room.