Tips For Easy Access to Your Storage Unit
Renting a self storage unit is a convenient solution when decluttering your home or storing your belongings during a move or transition, but the real magic lies in the art of organizing your unit. A well organized storage unit unlocks a multitude of benefits. One of the main benefits of a well organized storage unit is the time-saving advantage it provides. According to a study done by Pixie key tracker, on average people spend a staggering 2.5 days a year searching for misplaced items; this number can greatly increase when trying to find something in an unorganized storage unit.
A well organized self storage unit sets the stage for a hassle-free and efficient storage experience, allowing you to maximize your space, minimize the time needed to find something and provide you with a sense of control. By investing a little time planning and organizing your space you can transform it into a functional and efficient extension of your home or business.
Strategizing How to Organize a Storage Unit
Knowing your goals will help you better plan your unit.
Why do you need a storage unit?
Storage units are incredibly versatile and serve a multitude of purposes. Storage units offer a secure and convenient place to store your belongings without sacrificing valuable living space. They are perfect for decluttering your home, and are a great choice when undergoing life transitions like downsizing, renovating, or relocating. Whether you’re moving to a new home, or simply looking to store your holiday and seasonal items renting a storage unit can be the perfect solution.
What are you storing?
If you are planning to rent a storage unit you probably already have a good idea about what you are planning to store whether it is your entire household or the excess clutter that has piled up in your spare bedroom. But knowing exactly what is mixed into that pile will better help you determine your plan of action. If you are storing electronics, art or antiques you will more than likely want to opt for a climate controlled unit whereas items you are currently storing in your garage or basement don’t necessarily need to have climate control.
How long do you think you will need storage?
It is important to determine how long you think you will need a storage unit. If you are only renting a unit for the month of May while you get your garage organized then you probably don’t need to worry about accessing your winter holiday decorations and they can be stored towards the back of the unit. If you are planning to rent a storage space while you are in between selling your house in September and closing on a new one in October then you may want to take into consideration that closings can get delayed and you may want to plan to have access to your winter wardrobe just in case. Luckily, most storage facilities offer a month to month rental giving you the flexibility to extend if you need to, but having a rough timeline will ensure you are able to easily access items you may need in the near future.
Take an inventory.
Getting a detailed inventory of your items will help in the long run. You are going to want to pack similar items together and knowing what you have to work with before you start boxing things up will make life easier.
An inventory should always be documented for future reference. You can choose to go digital with your inventory by utilizing a spreadsheet, notebook or app.
Are you storing furniture?
If you are storing furniture in your storage unit extra preparation is needed to make sure that your furniture is properly protected and correctly stored.
Preparation: How to Organize a Storage Unit
Now that you have an idea on what you are storing you can determine what supplies you need. Some basic items that you can start with are:
- Boxes, bins or storage containers.
- Labels, markers
- Shelving unit or pallets
- Cleaning supplies
- Additional items like bubble wrap, moving blankets, oil shields, dish and glass inserts etc…
Most self storage facilities carry merchandise specific to moving and storing common household items. You may want to visit your local storage facility and speak with an expert on what they recommend based on the inventory list you compiled.
Sort & Declutter: Top Tips for Effortless Decluttering
Sorting and decluttering go hand in hand with storing your items. Now is a great time to really determine what items you need and what you can get rid of. You should go room by room section by section. Do not start ripping everything apart all over the house unless you want to end up overwhelmed in a pile of chaos.
Don’t look at your project as a whole but instead break it up into individual areas that need to be focused on. Work one room at a time, one section, one drawer at a time. If you manage it in smaller sections you will be less likely to be overwhelmed and will feel a lot more accomplished as you complete each section.
The best way to sort is to set up 4 different piles
Your keep pile is the items you absolutely cannot live without, These are the items that you use constantly and that make your life easier or hold significant value in your life.
Your donation pile should contain items that you haven’t used in the past 6 months or see yourself using in the next 6 months. These items should be in working condition, not stained or otherwise in bad shape. These are items that still have some life in them but are meant to be with someone else in need.
The toss pile can simply be a trash bag you keep near you and throw out any broken, stained or ripped items. After you fill up your trash bag, throw it out immediately and start a new one.
I like to have a maybe pile, and find that the items that end up in my maybe pile are usually things I should get rid of but something is holding me back. Sometimes that is a sentimental reason, the thought that I might one day need this item even if I haven’t used it in years, or even guilt over spending the money for something that I never really used.
Whatever the reason holding me back this pile deserves a little more analysis to determine where the item really belongs, so I will allow this pile to grow until the end when I can take stock of everything in my maybe pile and really determine what I want to do with those items.
As you hold each item ready to determine its fate you should take no more than 5 seconds per item to decide which pile it goes into. Once you have your initial reaction, put it in that pile and move onto the next item. Don’t second guess yourself.
How to Pack Efficiently
Now that you have your piles sorted you can sort them into categories as you pack them into boxes. Depending on your situation there are many different ways you can categorize your items but some of the most common are-
- By room
- By season
- By usability
When sorting things by room you want to make sure your kitchen items aren’t mixed up with your bathroom items. Every room should have their own boxes and be labeled appropriately. You will still want to keep similar items together to make it easier when unpacking or looking for things.
Storing things by season are great for holiday decor, out of season clothing items, sports equipment and outdoor/garden items.
If sorting your items by usability you may want to combine this with seasonal items. A great example is if you have a special cookie platter your grandmother gave you as a wedding present that you only use for the holidays then you may want to make sure that it is stored properly with your holiday items instead of with the kitchenware. Other ways to sort things via usability is making sure to box up and label the boxes you will want to open first when you are ready to unpack.
You can use any combination of the 3 suggestions above or feel free to use something different altogether that makes sense to you. The important thing is knowing how to find your items when you need them most.
Labeling: For Maximum Storage Unit Organization
Once you have your items sorted and are working on the packing process you need to be able to determine what is in each box. There are several ways you can do this but the most important is you should make sure your boxes are appropriately labeled before you seal them up.
You can use markers with labels or you may choose to write the contents right on the box. Another option is to label your boxes with a code that you keep track of in an APP, document or spreadsheet. The benefits of doing this is that only you know what is in the boxes making them more secure. Make sure if using a digital form of tracking you keep a hardcopy backup somewhere you can easily access that is kept separate from your unit.
A sample of labeling might be K-A-1. This translates to K- Kitchen, A- Order to be opened (so this would have your essential kitchen items) 1- 1st box in the essentials pile. As you move on you would then go to K-A-2. Once you complete the essential kitchen boxes you can go to K-B-1 which are your secondary items, things that you may not use everyday but will want unpacked fairly quickly.
Fragile items should be stored separately from other items and should have their own designation labeled on the box. This could be as simple as the words “Fragile” marked very clearly on your boxes. It is always recommended that you write this on all 4 sides and the top of the box in large easy to read letters. You may want to consider putting your fragile boxes under desks or on shelves so they do not accidentally get knocked over.
Making The Most of Your Space
Regardless of the boxes you use you want to make sure not to stack your boxes too high. Usually 3-4 boxes high is the maximum you want to go. It will make it easier to access a box that you may need at the bottom of the stack. It also ensures that those bottom boxes don’t have too much weight on them. Remember any box or tote can collapse or crack if too much weight is put on it.
When stacking your boxes you want to place heavier, sturdier boxes on the bottom as your base and place lighter boxes on top. This will help to maintain stability and prevent the stack from collapsing.
Consider going up a size in unit space to create an aisle in the center of the unit. This is recommended for units 100 square feet or more and makes it easier to access items instead of having to unload everything from the unit into a narrow hallway to get to one specific box.
Shelving may be something that you already have laying around or may be something you want to invest in. Shelves can be a great feature to add to your storage unit especially if you have another need for them in the future like organizing your garage or basement.
If using shelving, keep in mind that heavier items should be stored on the bottom of the shelves and as you move up the shelves add lighter items. You also need to be aware that most storage facilities do not allow you to affix anything permanently to their units. Instead of drilling holes see if there are any wall braces that you may be able to zip tie or bungee the shelving to for added stability.
Furniture should be placed along the edges and back wall of your unit. Break down any tables, chairs, or desks you are able to in order to make extra space. Some couches and sofas can be stood on their side in the back corner of your unit. For furniture you are unable to break down like dressers, large desks and bookshelves you can utilize them for additional storage. Dressers are especially good for storing blankets, comforters and towels. (to keep the weight down in transit remove the drawers and replace them once you are in the unit). Using space saver bags will not only help save extra space but will also protect these items while in the unit
Organizing a self storage unit is not just about neatly arranging your boxes and belongings. It is about creating a system that empowers you to take control of your space and simplify your life. By utilizing proper planning and preparation, decluttering, packing, labeling and using inventory systems you can transform your storage unit into an organized oasis.
Remember, organization is not a one time task but an ongoing process. Regularly maintaining your unit ensures that it remains functional and efficient. Take the time to periodically assess your stored items, update your inventory and make any necessary adjustments to keep everything in order. Happy organizing!