These apps helped me tame the chaos of a sudden move

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From note-taking apps to all-in-one browser tab managers, here are some of the tools that kept me, a massive mess, organized.

When you’re moving during the competitive summer months, time is of the essence. And I totally squandered it when I moved last year for one simple reason: I was living in a pigsty.

My place was a mess and my digital space was even worse. Granted, I was going through a lot at the time, and I was being forced to move after spending years in the same place. As I descended further into overwhelm trying to make heads or tails of the move, clutter just built up. It got so bad, I missed out on a few potential apartmentsbecause I misplaced the application link or forgot about it altogether. 

I’d like to say I learned the error of my ways and developed a great system for physical decluttering, but I didn’t. My place remained a pigsty until the day I left. However, I did manage toresearch tools to help me keep track of the digital aspects of moving. And thanks to those tools — which I’ve listed below — I lined up a new place to trash in no time. 

Now, let’s jump in.

OneTab for tab management

When I first started apartment hunting, I was the kind of person who always had 1,000 tabs open at a time. Now, I only have 500, and I’d like to thank OneTab for that.

A screenshot of the OneTab tab management window listing all tabs in one central location for easy and quick access.

A screenshot of the OneTab tab management window listing all tabs in one central location for easy and quick access.

OneTab generates a list of all your tabs for quick and easy access.
Image: OneTab

This browser-agnostic tool (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari,) lets me easily see and organize multiple tabs and even different browser windows, which made it so much easier to keep track of the links and listings I needed. It not only closed all of my tabs but also generated a list of them — timestamped by session — which I could reopen, export, share as a webpage, and more. As a result, I wasn’t avoiding looking at the mess that was my laptop anymore, which meant I started replying to landlords faster. 

But that just helped me for a little bit. The real game-changer was Notion.

Notion: a great all-in-one organizational tool that saved me a lot of time

My biggest mistake was not having an organizational system in place from the get-go. Once I created a dedicated workspace in Notion for everything from tracking my apartment search to storing all the checklists I needed before, during, and after the move, life got a lot easier. 

A screenshot of Notion’s collection of premade templates for house hunting.

A screenshot of Notion’s collection of premade templates for house hunting.

Notion offers multiple templates you can customize.
Image: Notion

I tried other apps, but they weren’t as customizable or intuitive for me as Notion. Creating a dedicated workspace for the multiple parts of my move was easy because I could easily divide it all into different pages for research into movers, budgeting, decluttering, and more. Notion also offers ready-made templates, many of which are free, created by other people who have gone through similar moves — like this one I used in my search or this template my colleague Emma Roth used. Having a premade database with fields for rent, location, and so forth was such a time-saver. 

Screensheet of a moving dashboard you can create on Notion with an index, calendar, and other important information.

Screensheet of a moving dashboard you can create on Notion with an index, calendar, and other important information.

A glimpse into a moving dashboard I customized for my own needs.
Screenshot: Sheena Vasani

What I really appreciated — and what really sped things up — were Notion’s web clippers and third-party integrations. The web clippers allowed me to quickly save listings from Zillow or research from Yelp directly into my Notion workspace, for example. That in itself reduced my tabs far more than OneTab. Notion also let me sync apps like Google Calendar so I could more easily keep track of all my tours and deadlines in one place.

Keeping emails organized during your search

Okay, I’ll be honest: I didn’t stumble upon the Gmail Tabs extension until after I moved, but I know I will be heavily relying on the desktop app extension for my next. The extension, which I waxed poetic about in this post, gives you a level of flexibility that goes far beyond Gmail’s built-in tab options. It lets you turn your labels or search queries into tabs you can pin at the top of your inbox, right where Gmail’s Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forum tabs live. You can then set up filters to funnel all relevant emails into the appropriate categories.

Screenshot of a Gmail inbox with tabs that are customized reading “Apartment Sites” and “Craigslist.”

Screenshot of a Gmail inbox with tabs that are customized reading “Apartment Sites” and “Craigslist.”

You can filter your emails and organize them accordingly.
Screenshot: Sheena Vasani

That means you could, for instance, create categories for property notification emails from sites like Zillow or HotPads, rental applications, and other things for quick and easy access. You can delete and edit the names of the tabs as often as you want, rendering it a helpful organization tool throughout the entire moving process. After you find a place, you can get rid of that tab and add a new one for all your moving company-related emails, another one for incoming emails about things you might be selling, say, via Craigslist, and more.

Voice assistants can be super useful when you’re crunched for time

Those final weeks before you have to move are killer, and I found myself running around frantically. I was juggling dozens of things at once, and it felt like my brain was about to explode with information and dates. So I outsourced half of my brain to Alexa — sort of. I synced my Google Calendar with my Echo Show 8. That way, whenever an opportunity for a viewing came up, I could tell Alexa to add it to my calendar. Alexa was also helpful for keeping track of all the stuff I suddenly remembered at the last minute, like a change of address for a subscription or company.

Other small organizational hacks

Those are the biggies, but there were smaller tools that also helped me or people I know that I think are worth sharing.

Enlist a chatbot at the beginning

AI chatbots like ChatGPT or Google’s Gemini might not always be the brightest bots, but they can be helpful for planning and research purposes. ChatGPT did help a lot when I needed to break down the moving process into smaller steps so I felt less overwhelmed. I found it was also useful for summarizing articles and finding the best real estate sites in my area.

Take advantage of organizational features built into property websites

Many property websites offer features that can also help keep you organized, so make sure to check. I used Zillow a lot, so the Zillow Renter Hub stuck out. It offers an easy and centralized way to compare listings, manage tours, keep track of applications, message prospective landlords, and more.

Use inventory apps like Sortly to keep track of your stuff 

Last but not least, there are a lot of inventory apps that can help you keep track of where you’ve packed everything. I know some people who have used Sortly, an iOS app that helps you create a visual inventory of your stuff, with photos. The premium tier, which costs $50 per month, also lets you create QR codes for your moving boxes (although most people won’t need to use it for more than a month or two).

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