You might remember that I shared some tips for the most organized move EVER! It relied on an app that now has a monthly cost. When we moved most recently, I decided to try a different tool to keep our move organized because it is completely free! So keep scrolling to find out how to organize your move with Airtable!
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WHAT IS AIRTABLE?
Airtable is a cross between a database and a spreadsheet. It’s one of the best digital organization tools that I’ve ever used. As an added bonus, it is cloud-based so you can access it across all of your devices.
The basic features of Airtable are completely free. No “catch.” No free trial. No entering your credit card information. Totally free.
However…if you become an Airtable addict, you might want to upgrade. But just to give you an idea, I currently use Airtable for TONS of things between home and business and I am still able to use only the free version (although there are some features in the pro upgrade that I’ve been eyeing).
Now that I’ve given you an ultra-brief explanation of Airtable, it’s time to show you how to use it to have the most organized move EVER!
STEP ONE: REGISTER
STEP TWO: INSTALL THE APP
Organizing your move with Airtable works best using their mobile app. You’ll see why in just a minute.
STEP THREE: COPY MY BASE
To save you some time, I’m sharing the base (database) that I created for organizing my move. Just click “Download CSV” at the bottom of the window below and then follow these instructions to add it to your own account. (You’ll probably have to do this step on your computer. I haven’t tried doing it from my phone.)
If you want to create your own custom base, feel free to play around in the app! But for the next few steps, I will assume that you have copied my base to your account.
STEP FOUR: LABEL YOUR ROOMS
You’ll notice that I’ve already entered the numbers 100 – 900 in the base, with “ROOM NAME” listed in the second field. Decide which room in your house will be 100, which will be 200, etc. and change the “ROOM NAME” labels accordingly (but keep the numbers as-is). This will serve as your cheat sheet.
To give you the big picture, you will be assigning a three-digit number to each box as you pack, using the numbers above as your guide. For example, if you decided that your living room would be the 100s, your first box packed from the living room would be given the number “101,” the second box would be “102,” and so on. If your kitchen was the 200s, the first box would be “201,” etc.
STEP FIVE: PACK A BOX
Once you’ve decided which room is which, it’s time to start packing your boxes! After packing the box, determine what number to assign the box. This is easy at first because it’s easy to keep track of the first box, second box, etc. As you get further into the process and start hopping from room to room, you can just scroll through the list on Airtable to find the next number for the room you’re currently packing. (Airtable keeps the boxes sorted by box number, so the boxes for each room will be grouped together no matter how much skipping around you do.)
For example, if you had a box in the kitchen (200s), you would scroll to the bottom of the 200s and see that the last box you entered was 204, so the box you just packed would be 205.
STEP SIX: ADD BOX TO AIRTABLE
In the phone app, you’ll notice the plus sign at the bottom of the screen. If you click this to add a new item, it will pull up a card for you to fill out.
The first step is to add the three digit number you decided on in the previous step.
Then you can type in a description of the box contents. Don’t scrimp on this! Take the extra minute to type this in, because it will save you SO much time when you are unpacking (more on that in a minute). You don’t need to list every single item, but think about things you might be searching for when you are living among boxes. List them with the same amount of detail that you would use when searching (“electric can opener,” “church shoes,” etc.).
And finally, take a picture of the box contents. You can do this BEFORE packing, but I feel like a bird’s-eye view of the top of the box is plenty for my purposes. I also suggest taking a picture of the outside of the box.
STEP SEVEN: REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT
Repeat these steps ad nauseam until you start to wonder why you’re fiddling with this whole process to begin with!
I promise: You’ll be so happy you went through these couple of extra steps! Here’s how this process will save you so much time:
Since the only thing you need in order to identify the box is a three digit number, labeling the boxes in Sharpie takes no time at all.
You don’t need to write a location or any clues as to the contents. You will know that box number 105 belongs in the living room and you can whip open your phone and quickly look it up to see what’s inside, if needed
Since slapping a three-digit number on a box is so easy, you can quickly label all four sides and the top of the box. This allows you to easily identify a box’s number, even in a huge pile, no matter how it is stacked. (You can faintly see how I labeled my boxes in the photo below, on the lower box.)
(And just as a side note, this was by far my favorite hair stage post-cancer. I LOVED this length.)
If you are going to have any amount of your belongings in storage for ANY length of time, I would definitely recommend using Airtable.
For example, it was the middle of winter when we moved in with my parents during cancer treatment, so we packed our summer clothing into the storage unit. When the weather warmed up and we were ready to switch out our wardrobe, all I had to do was look in our inventory to see what number boxes I needed to grab out of the storage unit.
Remember when I suggested that you snap a photo of the outside of the box? This helps because you can narrow down the type of box you are looking for when accessing your storage unit.
Is it a Home Depot moving box? A banana box? Airtable will help you narrow it down!
Moving day can be so hectic. I am always grateful for people who take time out of their day to lug our stuff around, but it can get crazy if everyone has to ask where each box goes.
How does Airtable organization help with this?
Easy peasy! Just post a cheat sheet of your room number key on the wall near the moving van and near the front door. (“100 – Living Room, 200 – Kitchen…”) You can also put signs on the door of each room. This way, as the helpers get a box out of the moving van, they can check the first digit of the box number and know exactly where to go. This will free you up to direct traffic for the larger, unlabeled items.
Once all of your stuff is in the house, it is always a relief to be done with moving. But this is when the work begins! It’s always overwhelming to be surrounded by boxes while trying to find what you need. Airtable helps with this! You can easily check your phone to prioritize which boxes you need to deal with right away.
Everything else can wait.
This is, by far, my favorite feature of organizing a move with Airtable.
If there is one thing that drives me nuts after a move, it is having open-but-still-mostly-packed boxes all over the place because we had to open them all to find one item. Amiright?
Using Airtable will help you keep all of the boxes neatly closed and stacked until are ready to deal with them.
Well, if you find yourself in need of a specific item, you can just use the search function at the top of the base! If you took the time to list the items in each box, you can easily identify the box number (and box type) that you’re looking for!
No more ripping open every kitchen box to find the can opener.
There is another time-saving feature when searching for items post-move:
As you unpack a box, you can click the “unpacked” button on that item’s card (below where you put the pictures). That way, if you’re looking for an item and you search for it in the app, you can see if box 108 still exists somewhere in the chaos of your living room or if you’ve already unpacked that box.
Now, before you write off this whole post as being just too Type-A for your liking, I will tell you my last little secret about why I like using Airtable so much.
If you’re anything like me, there will come a point in your move when you’re just OVER IT.
You can’t look at one. more. box.
Enter Airtable-supported procrastination, also known as the “Box Location” field of my base.
Let’s say that instead of unpacking a box you decide to, say, stash it under the bed in the guest bedroom (not that I would know anything about that…hahaha). Anyway, IF you decide to stash a box for later, you can list the stashing spot in the “Box Location” field. That way, if you ever go searching for whatever is in that box, you can easily find it using Airtable.
Procrastination for the win.
So there you have it! How to organize your move with Airtable. Once you get the hang of this spreadsheet on steroids, I’m sure you’ll find a bunch of other uses for it, like I have. This is just barely scratching the surface of its time-saving capabilities.
Feel free to play around with it to add more fields and filters to help you organize even more!
Do you use Airtable? What is your favorite feature?