When it’s time to pack up and move, you’ll likely come across belongings you forgot you even had. Sorting through all of those memories and keeping track of where everything is can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make it easier. Here’s how to manage your home inventory during every stage of the moving process.

1. Create a packing list. Planning is crucial for an organized move. Take a preliminary tally of what needs to be moved, and write it down or track it on your smartphone or tablet. To make it easier, organize the list by room.

2. Pare it down. Don’t let your preliminary list be your final list. “Ideally, you should do some soul-searching before the move and let some things go,” said professional organizer Sarah Gabriele, owner of A Place For Everything in Denver. A move is a great time to get rid of the old and embrace the new. Once you’ve decided what can be discarded, recycled or given away, determine how many boxes you’ll need for the rest.

3. Track all contents. The more detailed you are, the smoother the move will be. “Mark each and every box clearly, listing exactly what’s inside each box,” said Marla Ottenstein, owner of Professional Organizer Florida and the “Get Organized” columnist for the Naples Daily News. Also, try to use as few boxes as possible, Ottenstein said.



4. Color-code each room. Once the boxes for each room are packed, “label each room’s boxes with a different color masking tape,” Gabriele said. That way, you can see at a glance whether a box contains bathroom items or kitchen tools. Consider buying professional organization products to make it easier. For example, MoveInOrder.com sells a color-coded organizing kit to guide you through the packing and unpacking process, Gabriele said.

5. Keep sets together. Some items go as a pair, such as lamps and lampshades. Buy pre-strung merchandise tags and label such items before they’re taken apart and packed, Gabriele said. For example, write matching letters or numbers on the corresponding lamp and shade so you’re not “wandering around trying to match them up at the new house,” Gabriele said.

6. Share your home inventory list. Once your packing list is final, you’ll have a home inventory list. (You might consider downloading the Insurance Information Institute’s Know Your Stuff app to help compile your home inventory.) If you’re using a mover, share the inventory with the company so its workers know where to put all of your belongings. This list also will come in handy if any of your belongings are lost or damaged during the move. Finally, give a copy to friends, relatives and others who will be helping with the unpacking process so they know immediately whether anything is missing.

7. Keep your home inventory list updated. Your home inventory list will be valuable long after you move. Update it when you buy new items, and keep it in a safe place in case you ever need to file a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance claim.