Rule No. 1: It’s never too soon to start packing

Special to The Times

The key to a successful move is to start preparing as soon as you know you’re moving, advises Stephanie Culp, a professional organizer based in Temecula.

“Every day, go through something, even if it’s just two shelves in the linen closet,” said Culp, author of “How to Conquer Clutter.” “Typically what people do is they wait till the last minute, and they throw anything and everything into a box.”

Start by going through the house, room by room, and getting rid of stuff. And don’t forget the yard. Give items to charity or sell them.

“Purge, purge and purge some more,” said Culp, who plans a move of her own to Arkansas later this year and started packing months ago.

Culp also recommends:

* Label boxes by the room the stuff belongs in and write it on the four sides of the box instead of on top. Labels on top can’t be read when the boxes are stacked.


* Make sure boxes are packed to the top, even if it’s just with paper. Otherwise, the empty portion may collapse under the weight of other boxes.

* Give helpers clearly defined tasks. For example, assign one person to pack all the bathroom items, Culp said.

Lynne Gilberg, a professional organizer based in Los Angeles, suggested wrapping small items in packing paper and then labeling them with an X. Otherwise, the item might get thrown away as packing material.

Gilberg also recommended packing a travel bag with items such as a change of clothes, toiletries and snacks.

Consider whether you’re capable of handling your own move or should hire professionals. “You don’t want to be responsible for spraining your friend’s back,” she said.

Evaluate the size and weight of your furniture, how much there is to move and how much it is worth.

“If it’s the good stuff,” Gilberg said, “let the professionals do it.”

The distance of the move is a consideration as well. Culp, who will still be working with California clients after she relocates, plans to hire professionals for her out-of-state move.

For those who still aren’t sure, Culp offered an observation.

“Do-it-yourselfers generally woefully underestimate the job,” she said.