I originally typed this info up as a response to a post over at Lifehacker. While this falls outside of most of my technical help suggestions, since it involves using technology to make your move easier, I decided to put it up over here.
The last time I moved, I found something that helped me immensely (and I’m using it again when I move in three weeks): Making my own moving labels with colored paper and a business card template.
Grab a pack of multicolored paper from your local office supply superstore, then fire up your word processor and find a business card template (I use Avery 5371). Each business card template page should have space for about 10 cards or so, so you just make your label so it repeats for each “card”. The ones I used looked basically like this:
(Note for Mac folks who have iWork: I have posted a Pages template of the moving cards I used in 2010 for anyone to download. You can change the date by doing a find on “7/2/10” and replacing it with your moving date – I tried exporting to a .doc, but the template’s busted).
You print each room on a separate color (green for bedroom, red for kitchen, yellow for bathroom, etc), and then cut up the paper so each tag is about the size of a business card. This also means it’s about the same width as a strip of packing tape, so you just have to grab a piece to be able to slap it on any box. Or, as you can see from that pic, you can use it to put a little travel label on stuff by wrapping the tape around a handle.
This was SUPER helpful for me because I was able to see at a glance where stuff went during the moving process, figure out what was in each box during the unpacking process, and then organize my storage closet so that a) all the labels were on one side so I knew what was in each box without digging through it and b) how long it had been since I actually looked at what was in each box.
It takes a little more effort up front than just scrawling on everything with a Sharpie, but particularly if you’re using recycled boxes people have already scrawled on (which I definitely do), it is SUPER helpful in the long run. Plus, you can re-use the template the next time you move just by changing the date.
I also find this better than the traditional moving tape labeled with room names that places like UHaul sell – you can pick what you want to call each room, and again, the fill-in-the-blank for the contents is REALLY helpful when you’re trying to prioritize what to unpack.
If you’ve got any questions or suggestions for improvements, let me know!