This article was originally published in Military Families Magazine.
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We’ve spent a lot more time in our homes during the past year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. For that reason, many people have turned their focus to tackling messy pantries and purging closets. Shows about home organization are all the rage on Netflix, and The Container Store reported online sales have soared.

But getting organized for a PCS is a mammoth task compared to getting a junk drawer under control. As a professional organizer and a military spouse with a handful of moves under her belt, Lauren Weldon May is sharing some of her favorite tips for a smooth and well-organized move.

May says her friends and family aren’t the least bit surprised she’s made organization a career.

“I’ve always been known for being hyper-organized. Since I was 6 or 7 years old, it was something I was known for,” she said.

Her organizational skills served her well in her first career in luxury hotel management.

“I was always taking on organization projects at work on top of my daily responsibilities. Finally, after several years in the hotel world, I thought to myself, ‘Organization is what I’m passionate about; maybe it’s what I should do as a career.’”

A certified professional organizer, May launched her business in 2013 in Temple, Texas, just 30 miles from Fort Hood, the largest (and most populated) U.S. military installation in the world.

It was during that time she met her husband, an Army JAG. Together, they moved all over the U.S., with an OCONUS move to Italy scheduled for this summer.

May has moved her business, Manifesto Home, providing organization services for the home, home office, and small business at each new duty station.

“I’m a very aesthetically-minded organizer. If something is pretty, you’re more likely to maintain it,” she explained.

She tackles projects like pantry organization and custom closet design and takes on tasks that many people dread, developing paper filing systems, for example.

In fact, offices are one of May’s favorite spaces to organize.

“In my opinion, they are one of the most important places to be organized. Every piece of paper represents something important — whether it’s money, a memory, a legal issue — all of those things are incredibly important,” she said.

During the pandemic, May’s business shifted to virtual organizing sessions, and business boomed.

“In 2020 and 2021, our homes became our gym, our daycare, school, office, more. Everyone was home all of the time, and when we’re asking our space to do double and triple duty, it’s essential that everything has its place.”

May’s top tip is to write things down.

As her focus shifts to her family’s upcoming move, May assures an organized PCS is possible. Here are her top tips:

Learn to write things down: Our brains are for thinking, not for storage. Many of my clients are most stressed out about what’s going on in their heads. Get a notebook, a spreadsheet or an app and get your to-do list out of your head.

Don’t reinvent the wheel: When it comes to a PCS, if you’ve done this once, you’ve got at least an idea of what to expect. While every move is different, a lot of things remain the same. You need to cancel the cable, update the car insurance, and switch TRIACRE regions, if necessary. You probably know more than you think you do.

Let the container be the bad guy: I always tell people to purchase organizing containers that create limits. I do that with my furniture, with my closet. I have 100 hangers, so when I get something new, I eliminate something.

Use color coding: Use colors when it comes to PCS pack-out prep. Make your move as easy as possible for your movers. I color code every single box. A red tag for things that needed to go to the garage, a yellow tag for things headed to the kitchen, etc. You’ll be amazed at how much time this saves when you arrive at your new home.

Collect all vital documents: This may sound like a no-brainer, but get all of those important documents (birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, etc.) together and in a safe place, whether it’s a binder or a fire-proof storage container. I’ve seen clients and friends waste so much time and money replacing those crucial documents.

And even though she’s an organizational pro, May adds that she isn’t immune to PCS pressure.

“I tell my clients, I’m human! I still get stressed about each move, because I want each move to go well.”

 

AmeriForce Media is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business founded in 1999. The company utilizes talent from the military community to produce print and digital offerings that inform, entertain, and support today’s warfighters and their families.

Its flagship products, Military Families Magazine and Reserve & National Guard Magazine, are delivered direct to active-duty and reserve component units across the globe. In 2020, AFM partnered with the Military Influencer Conference to create a new publication called the Military Influencer Magazine.