As I’ve shared before on the blog, our family has experienced one of the worst moves ever.
It was a mess.
Fast forward ten months, when our family was ready to get all of our stuff out of storage and into our new home. Trying to identify and unpack our entire household’s boxes from such a crazy move might have been a daunting task after almost a year, but it WASN’T.
In fact, it was the smoothest move we’ve ever experienced (and we’ve moved more than a few times).
I’m going to tell you why.
IMPORTANT UPDATE – 9/1/2019: The app I’m about to share with you in this post (Sortly) has changed their fee structure. There is no longer a free version of this app. I still feel that Sortly is a great product, but I wanted to provide readers with a free alternative. Check out this post about how I organized my most recent move in the same streamlined way, but with a different (and FREE!) app.
I will start by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. I am going to show you an app that saved my bacon in a big way, but the makers of this app don’t know I exist; no one is slipping me any cash in exchange for my opinion. I am 100% motivated to write this post simply due to the awesomeness of this app.
So, without further ado….meet Sortly.
(These are screenshots of the app in use on my own phone. I’m in no way implying ownership of the app design. Hopefully I don’t get sued.)
This awesome invention is a visual inventory app that helps you organize your treasures. Each item that you add to your inventory can be assigned pictures, a description, and even value (for insurance purposes). Here’s how I used Sortly to save my sanity during our recent move:
Let’s start with the time consuming part, and then I’ll tell you why the time up front was worth it on the other end of the move.
After opening the app, there is a list of already-created folders to get you started. These serve as the major categories for your inventory; you can delete and rename them however you’d like. So I opened the one labeled “Move”.
After opening this folder, I was able to organize it by adding more folders. I decided to create a folder for each room of our house.
You’ll notice that each room has a number.
When I packed up a box, it was assigned a three digit number based on the room where it would land when we arrived at our new location. For example, all of Mini-Me’s boxes were in the 400’s, kitchen boxes were in the 100’s, etc. More on that in a minute…
Now that I had the folders ready for boxes to be listed, it was time to add a box to the inventory. As I packed a box, I clicked “add item” in the folder for the corresponding room.
The app opens a camera so that I was able to take a photo of the box and its contents. It allows multiple photos per item, so I took a birds-eye-view picture of the top of the packed box (to refresh my memory of what was inside) and I also took a picture of the outside of the box (keep reading to see why).
After finishing the pictures, I was taken to the inventory page for that item (shown above).This is where I typed the three-digit number for the box (listed as the item’s “name”) and a description of what was in the box (in the notes section).
When I say “description” I mean briefly listing what is in the box: “Blender, large crockpot, toaster, canning jars”…you get the idea.
Listing the items took a few extra seconds, but that was the key step to having such an organized move. (It was also the thing that slowed me down when I was trying to pack up during the ugliest move in history.)
I didn’t list every tiny little thing individually, but I was descriptive because I wanted to make use of one of the app’s best features.
There was definitely a learning curve when I first started adding boxes, and I felt like too much of a control freak at first. After a while, though, using the app was a breeze and I was able to add the boxes to my inventory quickly and easily. It wasn’t until after our move that I fully realized just how much help it was to have all of the boxes listed this way.
Now that you know the amount of work that I put into packing up the boxes and listing them in the app, here are the ways that this app saved me so much time and sanity.
Since the only thing I needed in order to identify the box was the three digit number, labeling the boxes in Sharpie took no time at all.
I didn’t need to write a location, or any clues as to the contents. I knew that box 405 belonged in Mini-Me’s room (since it started with a 4) and I could open my app right to box 405 and literally see what was inside.
Since slapping a three-digit number on a box was so easy, I was able to quickly label all four sides and the top of the box, so I could easily identify the box, even in a huge pile, no matter how it was stacked. You can faintly see how I labeled the boxes on the bottom box in the photo above.
This was a HUGE help to us, since our entire household was packed into storage for ten months. For example, it was the middle of winter when we moved, 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 snapped a photo of the outside of the box? This helped because I could narrow down the type of box I was looking for. For example, Mr. Blue Eyes and I would head down to the storage unit to find Box 305, which was a medium moving box from Home Depot or box 107, which was small and white. If you are going to have any amount of your belongings in storage for any length of time, I would definitely recommend using this app.
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.
What was my solution??
I posted a cheat sheet of my Sortly labels on the wall near the moving van and one near the front door, listing the key for the numbers. I also put signs on the doorway of each room so that they were easy to find. This way, as the helpers got a box out of the van, they could check the number and know exactly where to go. This freed me up to direct traffic for the larger, unlabeled items.
Once all of our stuff was in the house, we were relieved to be done with the move but overwhelmed by the number of boxes (as it goes with any move). However, since I had Sortly, I had been able to go through my phone before moving day and make a list of the box numbers I needed to open first (especially for the kitchen).
Everything else could wait.
This is, by far, my favorite feature of the app. Even though I unpacked the most important boxes first, we would occasionally have a need for a specific item. I was able to go to Sortly’s search function and type in what I was looking for. Since I had taken the time up-front to list the box contents somewhat specifically, the app could tell me exactly what box I needed to open.
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. Using Sortly helped me keep all of the boxes neatly closed and stacked until I was ready to deal with them.
As another time-saving measure when searching for items in post-moving-day chaos, I would switch the Sortly item labels as the boxes were unpacked. For example, I would change “Box 405” to “Unpacked.” That way, if I was searching for something before we were completely unpacked, I could search in Sortly and find out if the item was still in a packed and numbered box or if it was unpacked and floating somewhere in the chaos of our house.
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 Sortly so much.
Purchasing this home required us to downsize quite a bit. I had lost my craft room, office, and large pantry. There came a point in our move when I was done finding places for things when there really WEREN’T places for things. Further unpacking was going to require purging decisions.
I. Was. Over. It.
Christmas was coming and I just wanted to feel “moved in” but I still had a bunch of boxes to unpack. So, as I stashed STILL-PACKED boxes in various hiding spots around the house to be dealt with MUCH later, I added to those labels.
Now, instead of a Sortly label saying “605”, the label says “605 – In Master, Under Bed). This way, if I’m ever looking for burlap, I can use Sortly’s search function and know that it’s (still packed!) in the box that I stashed under my bed in a moment of true procrastination.
You might be wondering if this app has a cost. The answer is that you can inventory your move and access it completely free.
There are some features (like printable QR codes, exporting your list for printing, syncing to other devices) that are not accessible in the free mode. There is also a limit to how many items you can add on the free version. If we had completed our move in one go (without our little cancer side trip), I would have been able to use the free version only. But over the ten months our items were in storage, I got a new phone and needed to back up my list so that I could access it on a different device. So I upgraded and, honestly, it was worth every penny. There are a TON of features and uses for this app; I haven’t even scratched the surface.
So there you have it. Yes, this app contributed to my slower pace when I was trying to pack up during the ugliest move in history.
I am so glad that I used it, because it also contributed to my most organized move EVER.
What’s your favorite way to save time and/or sanity when packing up for a move? Leave me a comment below!
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