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The Mind Map. Awesome. You might have heard of it. You might not. But I am about to tell you about something that saved me from going insane, off my rocker, completely and utterly bonkers, last year.

People are busy. I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy. Whether it’s work, birthday’s, weddings, or everyday responsibilities, it can be tough to keep track of all that information.

I understand completely. Last year I struggled with keeping track of what needed to get done. It was incredibly frustrating. I wasn’t a very nice person because I was stressed out.

Then I remembered a concept my dad taught me: The Mind Map.

What is a Mind Map?

Quite simply, a mind map is a map of your mind. Or, more accurately, of your current thoughts, ideas, or tasks. It allows you to pour all of the info rattling around in your brain onto a sheet of paper. It could look something like this:

mind map exampleNow whenever I feel confused or overwhelmed, I just write out a quick mind map (It only takes around 60 seconds) of everything I need to do. Almost immediately my mind is free to think of other things, instead of shutting down, just trying to hang on to my thoughts, which are now (quite conveniently) on paper. I could finally relax.

The best part of The Mind Map, is that it works for anything and for everyone. Designing a video game? Mind-map it. Writing a book or a news story? Mind-map it. Planning a wedding? Mind-map it.

I think you’ll love the results. I did. And I still do.

Planning a move? Mind-map it, and move with Apex!

We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.

“What happened to my patio furniture? Oh, yeah, I remember. I wrapped it in duct-tape and buried it in my backyard for the Winter. Now where was that hole?” Before winter begins, we wrap up our patio furniture to avoid the rust, mold, and dirt that comes with the rain and sometimes the snow. (Snow is awesome, just saying.) But the process is inverted when Summer comes back around. Stop. Summer Time. (Like Hammer Time, get it? No? Go back to sleep.)   Inbound are three simple steps to set up your patio furniture for Summer: Step One: Unwrap Unwrap the water proof covers and get out the cushy cushions.   Step Two: Wipe off Wipe down the hard surfaces for a heavenly shine.   Step Three: Dust Dust off the soft surfaces and remove any food stains that remain from the previous season. (Yes, it’s usually a good plan to get rid of those chocolate stains on the patio chairs before anyone sits down, for obvious reasons.) “Found the patio furniture! It was under the dog kennels!”   Looking for a new home for your patio furniture? Move with Apex! We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.  
Some people are pack rats. Well, we aren’t literally pack rats, but we ACT like pack rats. Back-pedaling again, MANY people act like pack rats. They store, save, keep, carry, hide, and protect their “special” stuff from being thrown out. I know, I’m one of them. But it’s time to start throwing!   Over time we build up so much not-so-special-junk, that it becomes a horrible nightmare when we finally start tossing out the pointless knick-knacks. Knick-knacks, like the solid-as-a-rock exotic gum from Australia, the dragon(ish) stuffed animals you got in Japan, and the ten-foot, 6-inch piece of steel that looks like it came from that famous crashed jet’s left turbine. Sometimes, this stuff may be disguised as potentially useful things that you just haven’t used in a long time. For example, the massive exercise ball in your basement (that, realistically, you probably won’t ever use) or that lawn mower in your garage that’s only missing a few spare parts. Unfortunately, the random, the bizarre, and (even a lot of the) fascinating items lying around, are frequently not worth the space they’re wasting. Do you have a Goodwill nearby? If so, take the time to figure out what needs to be thrown away and what should be donated.   At first, you might feel a bit sad. But ultimately, I think you’ll be quite impressed with the results.   Making a “clean” getaway? Move with Apex! We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.

Summer is inbound. And it’s time to get ready. So, ladies and gentlemen, start your metaphorical engines! In the next three weeks we are going to talk about three things (Three and three, what a concept, right?):

  • Clothes

  • Donations

  • Furniture

First of all, it’s time to put away those winter clothes and bring out the shorts and tank-tops. I have been wearing jeans and overcoats for what seems like a century (and it’s only been 9 months)! Storing all that winter gear provides a lot more room and will generally reduce clutter.

Secondly, make sure to wash your winter clothes before you put them away. This is a no-brainer for most people. (But, I swear, some people have no brain.) Clean clothes don’t attract moths or other pests nearly as much as unwashed ones.

Finally, store the clothes in a dark, cool, and dry location (preferably a vampire-bat cave, if you have one nearby). Thus avoiding sun damage, mold, and generally keeping them fresh and ready for you when winter rolls back around.

Making a sunny summertime move? Move with Apex!

We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.

 

My house burned down in the early 90’s. Of course, it wasn’t my house at the time. My family purchased it after it was restored in 1999. Unfortunately, the people who restored it cut some figurative and literal corners.

After demolishing the old brick walls, they got rid of the debris by burying it in the front and back yards. However, when we bought the home it was beautiful and most of the problems were small and not immediately obvious. After some time, door knobs began falling off, and towel racks would spontaneously combust (Ok, there wasn’t any “combusting”). And the main man responsible for the finishing touches went by the name of “Hound Dog”.

So, from then on, any new incidents were officially entitled, “A Hound Dog Special”.

When it comes down to selling your home and making sure it’s in perfect shape, you’ll probably want to find a handyman. But not just any handyman will do. No, no, no. Because you don’t want “A Hound Dog Special”. You want it to be special in a good way, so here are three questions to ask about any handyman you consider hiring:

  • Are they honest?

  • Are they skilled?

  • Are they reliable?

You can find the answers to all three through one or all of these resources:

The Better Business Bureau: It’s been around for 100+ years and it’s completely free. Because they give both good and bad reports of businesses you can usually check out a handyman’s reputation here.

Angie’s List: It’s a paid service (only a small monthly fee) that displays positive and negative consumer reviews. This can show you the character of a handyman from the perspective of their previous customers.

Handy American: It has one of the largest selection of handyman services all over. The only downside is that many services don’t have any reviews. But theoretically, you could find a handyman, and then check look them up on Angie’s List or the BBB website.

With the help of these resources, you are well on your way to finding the right handyman for the job, and expertly avoiding “A Hound Dog Special”.

Looking for a move that’s truly special? Move with Apex!

We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.

May Is National Moving Month… And there’s already been a hostage situation.   Be careful who you move with – especially if the moving company is named “Mafia Movers”. In Denver, several individuals had their belongings held hostage by an unethical moving company going by the name of Mafia Movers (I’m not making this up), who tripled the price after loading, demanded they pay up immediately, or never see their stuff again. Here’s the full article on FOX31.   It was a painful experience for the people involved and it’s a great learning opportunity for all of us. Here are four key steps to make sure your move stays in good hands:
  • Get an in-person estimate.
  • Get a written estimate.
  • Don’t settle for an estimate over the phone.
  • Don’t hire the Mafia to move you.
Additional Resource: The BBB has a great article on how to Avoid Dishonest Carriers. If the mafia (or any other criminals) are holding your belongings hostage, don’t be afraid to call the local authorities. Trust me, the real police can handle any unethical moving company, even if they are mafia. Are you looking for an ethical moving company that is unaffiliated with drug cartels, criminal organizations or, for that matter, scary clown juggler unions?   Move with Apex! We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.

Have you ever been in a messy room? You probably have. You might even be the proud owner of a messy room.

Once, while visiting extended family, I walked into a room where the entire floor was nearly a foot deep in toys. I couldn’t take a single step without maiming a stuffed teddy bear, decapitating a barbie doll, or causing an (un)natural disaster for a Lego village. If you’re moving your stuff to a new home and you’re the unfortunate soul who has been drafted to pack up a messy room, get ready. It can be quite a nightmare. Use these 3 simple techniques to turn the nightmare into a happy dream of bunny rabbits, flowers and cotton-candy butterflies. (Ok, maybe not the butterflies).

 

1) Organize before you pack. Organize your clothes and items into three piles, “Keep,” “Throw,” and “Donate.” You can check out my previous blog post for more details on Organizing Your Space.

 

2) Pack a separate bag. One thing many people miss is that you will need certain essentials the first night you move in. At the end of a long day, you definitely won’t want to organize a search party to find your toothbrush, soap, and dental floss in separate, unlabeled boxes scattered across your house. You can check out another previous blog post to see more details on The Importance Of An Overnight Bag.

 

3) Label your boxes clearly. When you’re packing the boxes, it is extremely important to mark and label them with a general category like “Laundry Room.” However, it can also be very helpful to write a list on the box of what’s inside.

  Oh look! The bunny rabbits and flowers are coming! Wait, are those cotton-candy butterflies?     Nightmare move? We can wake you up. Move with Apex! We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.

Automobile Movers

I checked out a website called Kelly Blue Book that provides the “Blue Book” value of a car based on make, model, year, and mileage.

In checking, I discovered that the difference between worth less and worthless can be quite minimal. For example, my car is worth less than one-thousand dollars, according to Kelly Blue Book (Which is practically worthless). Although, with my car being 17 years old with over 250,000 miles on it, my hopes were neither high nor crushed too severely.

Whether the Blue Book value of your car is worth more or worth less than you thought, having that number can help you decide what type of moving insurance to go with, if you’re moving long distance and want your car transported.

When it comes to moving long distance, you have two options for conveying your 4-wheeled automobile to your new home:

  1. Drive it

  2. Transport it

Drive it.

When you are deciding whether or not to drive it, you will need to figure out how much it would cost to drive yourself. (Gas, Hotels, etc.) MapQuest can calculate the distance and the cost of gas for you. Most moving companies will give you the delivery schedule beforehand, so it should be quite simple to plan your hotels out.

Transport it.

Ask your moving company how much they charge for vehicle transport. What is transporting? Transporting is when a moving company loads your car into a larger car (AKA: Truck) and unloads it at your new home. While transporting is not a form of teleportation (unfortunately), it can still be quite valuable if you’re moving long distance.

If you do decide to transport your vehicle, you will generally have two choices for liability coverage. You can get Full Value Protection, which like it sounds, covers everything. Or you can get Released Value Protection, which unlike the Full Value, only covers your items on a per-pound basis. You can check out more about valuation and insurance options on ProtectYourMove.Gov.

With careful investigation you can make sure you’re getting the best “bang for your buck”, as it were. (Whether you choose to transport or not, I support your decision one-hundred percent!)

Moving long distance? Move with Apex!

We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.

How To Pack A Painting

Every work of art deserves special care.

I created a painting once (emphasis on “once”). It was supposed to be a painting of a skier, skiing happily down a white mountain to the forest below with the sun setting beautifully behind. Unfortunately, I painted the reds too dark, the blacks too black, and the ski poles too short, which changed it from a happy painting, into a nightmare biathalon to hell.

The best part of the painting, the skier, was in fact the only part I didn’t paint. The painting class I participated in, had a pre-made “skier outline” which required no artistic talent and only a minimal knowledge of gravity to properly position on the two-dimensional mountain slope.

And yet I haven’t thrown the painting away. It has a certain value to me, because I painted it. Every work of art is valued by someone (even mine, if only to me), and deserves special care.

Moving your paintings to a new house? Here are a couple things you can do to make sure they get to the other side unscathed:

Oil?

There is a very multipurpose kind of paper called “glassine” that can protect oil paintings from damage. Glassine is also used in meat and bread packing, as well as fireworks and a certain kind of adhesive tape. As I said, very multipurpose.

Frame?

After you’ve protected the artwork itself, you can wrap the entire painting and frame in regular moving paper. Make sure not to use newspaper, the ink can rub off onto the frame, and while it might be entertaining to have today’s headlines permanently etched onto it, I’m pretty sure it would get a bit old after few days, both literally and metaphorically.

Box?

Put the (now fully wrapped) painting into a picture moving box and seal all the openings to prevent any dirt or grime from getting inside. With the proper wrapping and packaging your paintings should look as good as new when you reach your destination.

Done?

That’s it, then. Well done.

Moving your priceless artwork? Move with Apex!

We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.

Finding a Peaceful Neighborhood: The Sound Clutter Stakeout

Your home should be a quiet place to relax and spend time with your family and friends. Unfortunately, the noise is not always up to you. Often, it’s determined by your neighbors.

Does your neighbor like to “rev” his new Harley, or obsessively mow his lawn every single day?

Does your neighbor run a machine shop out of her garage, or do her children have screaming tantrums until 4am?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above, you suffer from Sound Clutter Syndrome (SCS).

When you are looking for a new home, you should make it a point to discover sound clutter before you buy. This can be done through the 7 steps of the Sound Clutter Stakeout™.

Here they are:

  1. Write out a list of the noises that irritate you the most (Shrieking eels, etc.)

  2. Schedule a time when the sounds will be obvious (After work, school, etc.)

  3. Take an hour (or a day)

  4. Get a good book and a snack

  5. Park your car out in front of the prospective house

  6. Roll down the windows (Hopefully it’s not raining)

  7. And listen…

Now you might be thinking that setting up a sound stakeout seems a bit unusual. But some things you need to experience for yourself. However, to increase your sound clutter knowledge, you can also meet some neighbors and ask them about the other neighbors. Just hope you’re not talking to the one who trims his shrubs with a chainsaw.

In your search for a peaceful area, be sure to remember that there are no perfect neighborhoods. However, if you perform the 7 steps of the Sound Clutter Stakeout™, you’ll be well aware of any sound clutter before you move into your new home.

Moving away from a sound cluttered neighborhood? Move with Apex!

We follow a set of core values, have an excellent reputation with the BBB, and are a part of Stevens Van Lines. We also provide a free moving estimate.