Whether you are hiring a moving company or doing it all yourself, keeping you and your family (or roommate) organized before, during and after your move will be made easier by using some leftover school/office supplies and a few sheets of copy paper.
The first thing you need to do is track down a spiral notebook or some loose leaf paper, a colorful portfolio folder, markers and some sticky notes. The spiral notebook can be half used, the loose leaf paper can be wide or college ruled, the folder can have "science" or your child's name written on it and even (gasp) torn, the markers should be dark colors and the sticky notes can be of any size or color. The name of the game is to shop your own home first before you go out and buy new stuff and start thinking "Use it, don't pack it" for pretty much everything moving forward in your home.
A spiral notebook is great to use since all your notes will be kept in ONE PlACE and not scattered throughout your home on random pieces of paper. If you can, choose a notebook with a bright cover so you can find it easily when your house goes into "full upheaval mode" where even the most organized of homes enters a state of disarray. If you don't have a spiral notebook, use filler paper inside a, yet again, bright colored folder for all your notes. It's best if the portfolio folder has pockets and brads to hold your loose leaf paper and other paper items you will acquire during your move. It might sound picky, but this folder will hold so much information and become your best friend during your move, so make sure it has pockets.
On the first few sheets of paper, brainstorm and dump all your thoughts on them about what you need to do. Think about your list as a table of contents or a "thought parking lot". You might have things like: moving company, rental truck, storage locker, medical needs, cable, pets, hotels, mail, insurance, then keep adding to the list as you think of things. On the following pages, write your items as a heading on their own sheet of paper, maybe skipping a few pages between if there will be a lot of content like: "movers" where you might have contact with multiple moving companies. So under "Rover" you might have: get a copy of rabies certificate, make grooming appointment, and enough meds and dog food? Just keep adding to your list as things pop into your head. The best part is, everything will be in one place and easy to find when you need it.
The next thing you need to do is set up a timeline for your move. Find a free monthly calendar online and print out all the months until moving day, Fill in ALL your upcoming events, both moving and life related, Using colored markers for impact or even color coded chores/events per person can also help. Put them all on the refrigerator, top to bottom, for all to see. Use masking tape f your refrigerator does not hold magnets. This will help keep you, your spouse, kids or roommates constantly informed of updates, like appraisal dates and any new deadlines that pops up and gives them a visual of just how many days there are left before final day when you leave your home. Saying "we only have 1 month left to purge/pack/clean/empty/etc.", might go in one ear and out the other, but a visual of only having "4 more Saturdays to get stuff done" is hard to ignore. Even better, write a numerical countdown in each square, like you do for an upcoming vacation or major holiday, to reinforce another way just how much time is left. Everyone processes information differently, so try to use as many different cues as possible. Once you are a few weeks out, add weekly print outs to show sense of urgency and add more details as things heat up. Once a month or week has gone by, remove that paper and move up all the rest of the sheets. No one should be shocked that moving day is "next week" when it's been on the frig for weeks/months. Hopefully, anyways...
The next use of paper is for directions. If you are moving your family, it's unfair to assume they know what you are thinking and organizing in your head. Use sticky notes for small items/spaces, like in the bathroom and copy paper for larger items/areas to relay information to your family. You can also use sticky notes with the word "empty" written on it to show which closets, cabinets and drawers are empty to help keeping you, or someone else, from wasting time "rechecking" them over and over again to see if they are truly empty. Clear plastic totes or cardboard boxes can be labeled or marked: "Toys/supplies for the car trip", "To storage locker", "Return to Neighbors", "Donate", etc. If you have a split move, where some of your stuff goes one place and some of it goes another, use masking tape to put up a sign on the wall that says "To Colorado", or "To Grandma's" or "To Storage Locker" to keep separate stacks of boxes/furniture organized and easy for everyone to identify. Tip: Mark a box called "First Box" that you put anything you'll need right away in your new home like toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, bath towels etc.,
Once you have moved, you can put sticky notes on doors to identify rooms where pre-labeled boxes should go when you/your movers unload the moving truck like: "Jane's Room", "Guest Bedroom", "Office". If you have older children, friends or family helping you unpack, you can use sticky notes on cupboards in the kitchen to show where you'd like glasses, plates, and cookware to go. Remember, if you don't let people know how you want something done, you can't be upset when they can only guess what you'd want and don't do it the way you were thinking....
It's all about keeping yourself and your family all on the same page during a move, or any upcoming big event. Sharing your thoughts and information, even before someone has to ask you about something, will open up the line of communication and hopefully make things run smoothly. Don't be surprised if your family leaves some sticky notes for you too, and that's a good thing because it's really all about good communication.