Sun Tzu's Art of Packing

Sun Tzu's Art of Packing

17-06-2015 09:04:08am

Okay - maybe not Sun Tzu. But packing boxes for a furniture removal is an art and does require some strategic planning.

"The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought."

To quote another famous leader, Benjamin Franklin - "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". Developing a plan is key in making packing for your move efficient and stress-free. The supreme art of packing is to subdue the enemy without fighting, so make it easy on yourself: Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.

"Plan for what it is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small."

Start packing early. Don't leave it until the last minute. It always takes longer than you think!

"In the practical art of packing, the best thing of all is to keep your box whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good."

Make no mistake, your prized possessions are at a much higher risk during your move. They're going to endure many bumps, vibrations and movement on their journey. Too many times we have seen people use packing materials that aren't up to the job or aren't packed correctly. This is a recipe for disaster.

  • Wherever possible, use packing materials that were designed for moving house. Over and over, we hear or read tips about using supermarket boxes to save a little cash. It will end up costing you a heck of a lot more than you've saved if they are crushed or the bottom falls out.
  • Don't overload your cartons. Someone will break their back. Or your boxes will collapse. Or the bottom will fall out. They're destined to crush something - probably your hopes and dreams of a smooth move!
  • Don't use cheap plastic tubs - they often crack.
  • Another misguided money saving trick is to use newspaper as padding inside your moving boxes. Maybe thirty years ago, when the paper and ink was different, this might have worked. It doesn't work now. The ink will rub off all over your boxed items...and your hands as you pack or unpack...and then it will spread like wildfire to every surface in your home. Use butchers/packing paper instead. It will cost less than the copious amounts of cleaning product you're going to need to get rid of those grubby marks! If you have already made this mistake, baby wipes will help you to redeem yourself. They're so very versatile!
  • Use packing tape to seal your boxes. Then use it diagonally, corner to corner, across the top and bottom of your cartons in an "X" shape. Don't use masking tape, or anything else. It will stretch and snap.

"He will win who knows what to pack and what not to pack."

As a general rule of thumb, if something can be packed into a box, it probably should be. Probably. But not always.

You'll need to use some common sense here. But below are some examples of items that should never be packed.

  • Important documents like prescriptions, passports, airline tickets, property deeds or contracts;
  • Anything flammable, combustible, or otherwise hazardous;
  • Irreplaceable jewellery, family heirlooms;
  • If you're moving interstate, long distance or into storage - no perishable foods;
  • Anything illegal or that may break some quarantine regulation;
  • Paints and liquids are generally bad and may not be transported by your furniture rremovalists.

Most of these seem like common sense, but people become unstuck by packing such items all too frequently.

"If his forces are united, separate them."

Break down the packing process into a number of achievable tasks. One room at a time, for example. To divide and conquer is to make your move manageable and your progress will be easier to see.

Use coloured dots to code your boxes by room to make unpacking easier and clearly label all your boxes as you go. Include:

  • Your name;
  • A brief description of the box's contents;
  • A job reference number, where applicable;
  • Your phone number;
  • Your delivery address.

"Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley."

While many hands make light work, it's always a good idea to look after the people who are helping you out. If you've recruited people to give you a hand, remember that they're giving up their free time and energy for you. Keep your beasts of burden fed, watered and always give them first dibs on anything you're not planning on taking. Beer, wine, coffee and food can go a long way to saying thanks to those who've leant you their time and muscle. Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day!

"In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity."

Packing is the best time to unburden yourself of your unwanted, or unneeded possessions. The less you're moving, the less it's going to cost, the lower the effort required, and you'll be reducing your impact on the environment too. Everyone wins.


  • Holding a garage sale to help pay for your move;
  • Donating to charity;
  • Offering your unwanted/unneeded items to your army of helpers.

Reflect carefully on what you do and do not need. There is no point in spending time, money or effort to move something that you don't need or will not fit into your new home.

Start by looking at what you decided to pack first. What did you identify as something that you're not going to need anytime soon? Have you used an item in the last 6 or 12 months? If not, consider offloading it.

Above all, when packing for your furniture removal, remember: "It is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached packer who wins".

Good luck packing for your move!

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