Nobody really enjoys moving. We’ve all been through the typical moving nightmares, and most people dread the chore of packing up all their possessions and lugging them to someplace new.

But we’re here to help, with a few tips for making moving a little less onerous.

The typical American family moves every 5 years, so unless you’re true homebodies like my friends Sid and Karen—who bought their house in 1973 and have stayed there for more than forty years—you’ll likely need to round up some boxes and tape sometime in your future.

Of course, every move is different. When you’re young and own few large pieces of furniture, things can be easier. But if you have children, or if you’ve got a few grey hairs, chances are you’ve accumulated enough stuff to require a large truck to haul it. And whether you rent a small moving van or require a few semi-loads to cart your worldly possessions, you’ll need to get organized and make a checklist.

1. Floor Plan Planning, From Old to New

Art supply and architecture stores sell paper that comes pre-marked with a grid pattern. Get some, and draw a scale, birdseye-view floor plan diagram of the rooms in your current abode. Then do the same for your new home. Measure the size of your furniture, and draw it in, too. Involve the entire family in this activity. Once you’re finished you’ll have a basic schematic of your move—where your large items are now, and where they go in the new place. This advance planning will tell you if you need to get rid of any large items, or acquire more.

Whether you’re moving yourself, enlisting a few college friends in exchange for a pizza, or hiring professional movers, this initial step will make your move much easier. It will also give you a clue about what to load and unload when. Remember—the first items you load into the truck are always the last ones out.

2. Packing—the Key to Every Move

My wife and I once relocated from one large western metropolis to another, and engaged a full-service cross-country moving company. They offered what they termed a “painless move”—which meant that they would pack, load, haul, unload, unpack and arrange any way we liked. Nice, huh? It was nice, except for one thing—if they pack and label everything, guess what? You have no idea where that important, need-it-right-now kitchen implement or book or receipt or piece of equipment or crucial computer cord went. Tearing apart thirty boxes in a rush to find it makes the painless move kinda painful, we learned.

You may also want to read: Hiring a Professsional Moving Service: Things to Know

So whether you’re packing boxes yourself, or just supervising a packing crew you’ve hired, you’ll want to carefully label those boxes. I like the pre-printed labels Home Depot sells, but a felt-tip pen can suffice, too. Just make sure you list everything in the box. This isn’t always easy in the flurry and fast pace of most moves, but it will save you an enormous amount of time and stress on the other end.

3. What to Toss?

Moving, as we all know, is God’s way of telling us we have too much stuff.

So I recommend a time-tested rule of stuff management that I’ve successfully used over several successive moves—if you haven’t touched it or thought about it for more than six months, toss it.

This ruthless determination to eliminate clutter, junk and old bicycle parts will make your move a freeing experience. It will lighten your load, your concerns and your spirit—and of course, it will also make room for the mindless accumulation of more stuff in your next home.

Happy moving!

Find more tips: Moving Services: Moving Tips from Companies