Unpack Quickly and Efficiently: Tips from a Professional Organizer

This month, we wanted to introduce you to our friend Ellen of Southern Sequence. She’s a professional organizer, and is guest blogging for us with some great thoughts on making your move as efficient as possible. Take it away, Ellen!

We’ve all been there… Or maybe you haven’t (lucky you!). For those of us who have, moving into a new home can be overwhelming and very time consuming. There are boxes everywhere, and you can’t find anything. I think we can all agree the goal is to get out of this state as quickly as possible to resume normal life, but I know that’s not always easy for everyone. So, I’ve compiled my top five tips to get you settled in quickly & efficiently!


It really starts PRIOR to moving, so hopefully you’re reading this early. This step often gets ignored, but in my opinion it is the most crucial to experiencing a stress free move. You don’t want to waste your energy, and often money moving things that are no longer needed. I always suggest starting this process well in advance, so you’re not tossing it all in the moving van at the last minute. I could honestly write an entire post on this subject alone, but for the sake of time I’ll leave you with this… Keep the things you LOVE, NEED & USE. The rest is a candidate for trash, sell or donation.


Another one that starts prior to the move: pack boxes as strategically as possible by room and category.

  • Pack boxes by ROOM. All kitchen items together in boxes. All dining room pieces in another.
  • Put “like items” together in boxes, but be specific. i.e. Don’t put adult shoes in the same box as your kids’ shoes, or bath towels with your kitchen towels. Separate these in their own boxes, so they can easily be placed in the correct room when move-in begins.
  • Clearly label each box by item and the room they belong: “BATH TOWELS – MASTER BATHROOM” or “DISH TOWELS – KITCHEN”.


If the boxes were packed by room then they should now be easily unpacked just the same. Looking at the big picture is too much at this stage. The thought of getting an entire house unpacked is daunting, but tackling just one room is more doable. Pick one room, and focus on that one until it is done. I suggest the kitchen or bedroom first because we all need to sleep and eat! Furthermore, start with your bed linens or eating utensils. Daily use items are the most essential to knock out quickly.


Similar to #3, but important enough to be listed separately. Take the kitchen for example:

  • Map out a general idea of where you would like things to be stored. Choose one cabinet for dinnerware, and a drawer for cooking utensils, etc.
  • Start with one box, fully unpacking it as you go.
    Place those items in the cabinet you planned for them to be stored. Don’t worry about the arrangement at this stage. The goal at this point is to just get them out of boxes.
  • As each box is fully emptied break it down & toss in a pile in the yard or garage to be trashed or recycled later. This helps to keep the clutter at bay, and lets you visibly see your progress.
  • Once everything has been removed from the boxes start arranging them within the cabinets and drawers. Once you dive in you may find that swapping cabinets might be best, and that’s okay. Experiment with a little trial and error until the placement is right for you.


You’ve unpacked every room box by box, and are now ready for the fun part! Decorating. Most of the time each home has a new setup that requires some purchases. A new piece of art for that corner, or baskets and bins to better fit the bathroom cabinets. Before you go out buying I suggest taking an inventory at home, and see what you already have that can fill those needs. If you still come up short then make a very specific list of those needs. Lastly, measure the area those items need to fit. After a big move you don’t want to add returns to your to-do list!

I hope these tips make that daunting move just a little smoother! Thank you to Soft Touch for allowing me to share my craft with you!

More about our guest blogger:
Ellen Cooley is the owner and creator of Southern Sequence. She’s a professional organizer and self-proclaimed DIY enthusiast. Her belief that your home should be your happy place bringing you more joy and less chaos led her to create Southern Sequence, and is what she strives for in every project. You can find more about Ellen on Instagram (@southernsequence) or send her an email if you’d like to talk organizing (hello@southernsequence.com).

Posted in: How To

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