Moving Day can be a smooth, stress-free event with proper planning and organization. You can even use these planning tips to clear clutter without the big move.

The big bennie in moving is sorting through stuff (definition of stuff: something that has weight and takes up space), parting with things which no longer fit, get used, work or otherwise contribute to daily or seasonal life. In the same way that a Big Move forces you to examine what’s in the closets, garage, basement, cupboards and drawers, an imagined move can elicit the same activity with the same positive result: a life more streamlined, possibly downsized, efficient and fun.

Like any project, moving needs an overall system from beginning to end. Start with a calendar, clipboard, containers, baggies, markers and packing material. Set goals on the calendar ~ when each room begins and ends, when to pack personal belongings and when the moving truck arrives. On the clipboard, have a color-coded page for each room. This can be simply a sticker with the same color sticker on every box or piece of furniture for that room. Baggies are useful for small parts, cords, remotes, electrical wires, drawer feet, anything small that belongs with something large.

Police the interior of your home. If you are not really moving, imagine that you are. You can play pretend for one room, one floor or the whole house. Your Home Wizards say that the procedure is the same. Put containers in every room – one for toss out, one for donations and one for things you plan to keep and move. For bedrooms, set up a suitcase for things to go with you personally. It’s handy to have a mobile table to set everything on, so it’s not back-breaking floor work. Number boxes for each room like 1 of 4, 2 of 4, 3 of 4, 4 of 4. Keep the numbers big and next to the color codes. Ideally, label two sides of each box and mark the bottom and top with arrows so boxes get stacked right side up. Also add “Open Me First” on boxes with things like lamps and tools.

What you take depends, of course, on whether you are moving across town to a larger house or across the ocean to une très petite maison en France. Work on packing one room at a time. Keep boxes ideally 30 pounds or under. When you encounter computers, televisions, DVD players, music systems and other electronics, take photos of the wiring, left to right, before disconnecting anything. As you dismantle connectors, place them in clear baggies, mark the outside and tape to the side of the electronic device. Note the date and time you took photos for easy retrieval from your camera or phone. Cindy Dole is crazy about her label maker. At about $30 a pop, it’s worth it to keep things neatly marked and easily identified.

Packing stuff comes in all sizes and materials. If using Styrofoam peanuts, employ the 2” rule – two inches of peanuts on every side of fragile items. Much packing material can be found right in your home – towels, tee shirts, socks, sheets. Instead of stacking plates, stand them vertically with folded clothing items between them. Place stemware in tube socks. Wrap sentimental glass pieces in towels and sheets. Double box breakables and electronics. You can get huge wardrobe boxes and place trash bags over handfuls of clothes on hangers and hang inside. These can get heavy, but if you have professional movers or a strong dolly, it’s the most efficient way to move closet clothing with minimal handling.

If you’re lucky enough to have friends to help you move, feed them well – spring for multiple toppings on pizza, for example – and give them first dibs on any toss out and thrift store items. You know, your trash may be someone else’s treasure. When hiring a moving company, get references, check with the Better Business Bureau or U.S. Dept. of Transportation. Local Chamber of Commerce membership is usually a good sign. Realtors are great moving resources, and remember that price is not the only factor on which to base a decision. It’s illegal to quote a move in cubic feet rather than weight. Movingscam.com is a website to check. Take valuables, musical instruments and collections with you, if at all possible. Exchange cell phone numbers with the drivers, not just the company, and understand how payment will be made and plan for it if you need to pay at the other end. Give directions and a map to supplement GPS.

Preserve your back by picking up containers by bending from the knees. Preserve your sanity by planning, organizing, sorting, labeling and streamlining everything methodically. Whether you are really moving or just pretending so you can simplify your life, stay focused, keep your sense of humor and enjoy the anticipation of adventures that lie ahead – whether in your new abode or right at home in the ol’ backyard.