There’s something about moving to a new apartment that makes staying organized seem like a Herculean task. No matter how many times you’ve completed the process before or how carefully you pack, somehow it’s impossible to find what you’re looking for once all of your boxes have been placed in your new abode. But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you know how to stay organized and follow these simple tips for moving, the process will be much less stressful–and you may even be able to find a toothbrush to use on your first night in your new apartment.

1. Sort and Toss

Before you even begin the process of packing for your big move, use this opportunity to finally rid your apartment of all those old T-shirts you’ve been holding on to since high school. Methodically move through each room in your apartment, and decide whether you want to keep, toss or donate each item. If you had no idea you even had a blender, chances are you don’t need it. Be strict with yourself–remember, the fewer things there are in your apartment, the less you’ll have to move.

2. Begin Packing Early

Unlike studying for midterms, preparing to move to your new apartment is not something that you can put off until the last minute (although you shouldn’t procrastinate when studying, either). It’s never too early to begin packing for the big move. About a month before you lease ends, start the process by gathering cardboard boxes and packing up seasonal items and things that you don’t use on a daily basis, such as kitchen appliances that sit in the back of your cupboard for weeks on end.

3. Label Everything

Labeling will truly be the key to your organizational success. As you pack boxes, put things that belong in the same room in your apartment into a box together and label it clearly. You may even want to write out an inventoried list instead of simply scrawling “kitchen” across the top in black marker. As you label, be sure to mark all sides of the box. This way, you won’t have to shift anything to find out where the heck your “first night in the new apartment” box ended up.

4. Fill a Box with Essentials

This brings us to the next organizational trick, which is to fill one box with all of the essentials that you’ll need the first night in your new apartment. This will include everything from a cup, plate and set of utensils to your pajamas, toothbrush and sheets for your bed. Moving is a long and tiring process, and chances are you won’t want to dig through boxes at the end of the day desperately hunting for toothpaste. After packing your “essentials” box, make sure it stands out from the sea of cardboard by plastering it with stickers or marking it in red.

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