Let’s be honest: Moving is the WORST! It’s stressful, tedious and, if you’re not careful, literally backbreaking. But whether you’re moving across town to a new apartment or packing up stuff for you storage unit, there are a number of smart, simple steps you can take to make the process far less hellish.

Let’s start with the best ways to pack up your belongings:

Be Prepared. Gather all the packing materials you need BEFORE you start packing, including boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, mattress bags and furniture covers. The last thing you want is to run out of tape while you’re packing. Manhattan Mini Storage has all the supplies you need, and we’ll deliver your boxes for free on orders over $50.

Protect the Family Jewels. Take extra care with valuable items that can break. These include dishes, glassware, ceramics, mirrors and artwork. Wrap them individually in bubble wrap, and then secure them in the box with packing peanuts, bubble wrap or newspaper so there is no space for them to move around.

Make it Special. When possible, use boxes specially made for the items you are storing. For instance, use small boxes for books, dish boxes for dishes and art/mirror boxes for mirrors or paintings. This also means you should use wardrobe boxes for valuable clothing.

Size Matters. The weight of the contents should determine the size of the box. Heavy, smaller items, such as books and CDs, should go in smaller boxes. (Pack books on their side, not on the spine.) Lightweight, larger items, such as blankets and pillows, can go in the larger boxes.

Eliminate Breathing Room. Make sure cartons are firmly and fully packed, with heavier items on bottom and lighter ones on top. Fill boxes completely; this makes them stack more easily and maximizes your storage space.

Watch Your Weight. Keep all boxes to a maximum of 50 pounds to allow for safer, easier lifting.

Seal the Deal. Be generous with packing tape, using enough on your boxes to create an airtight seal.

Take Cover. Use a mattress bag to protect items like box springs and mattresses, and use furniture covers for chairs and sofas. (Be sure to vacuum the upholstery before you cover the furniture.)

OK, so now you’re all packed up. But if you’re moving any of those items to a fabulous storage room (hint hint), you’ll also want to follow some basic guidelines so you can make the most of your space:

Organize it Up. Keep the most-needed items toward the front of the room, and create an aisle for easy access. Also try to store heavier items towards the front and lighter items in the harder-to-reach areas.

Hang it Up. If your storage room comes with hanging rods, take advantage of them, and hang your most valuable clothing, rather than keeping it folded or rolled up. Wardrobe boxes are also ideal for this purpose.

Map it Up. Especially for larger rooms, create a map for yourself that clearly shows which items are stored where. This will save you major time and headaches when you need to find something later.

Stack it Up. Make extra space for yourself by stacking your boxes floor to ceiling. Make sure you place the heavier boxes on the bottom of the stack and the lighter ones on top and that all your boxes are completely filled.

Fill it Up. Storing a refrigerator or an empty chest of drawers? Take advantage of the empty space inside, and fill these large items up with any small or loose items.

Break it Up. Large items like beds, sofas and tables are more easily stored when you take them apart, removing elements like legs, handles and headboards.

Clean it Up. To prevent mold, moth bites or any other kind of long-term damage, store only items that are clean and dry. Make sure to launder or dry-clean any clothing before it goes into long-term storage.

So there you have it, and we hope these tips help. Also keep in mind that Manhattan Mini Storage provides moving services via our partner, Moving Ahead. Click here for details, or call 212-STORAGE (786-7243). Happy moving!