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spring cleaning

How to Organize Your Storage Unit

by Jenny

You’ve given yourself the pep talk. You’ve cleared the afternoon schedule. You’ve dug the key out of your junk drawer. You’ve been procrastinating about organizing your storage unit for months — no more delays.

It’s time.

How do our storage units end up like this — boxes half-open and half-empty, sweaters hanging from old lamps, a pile of junk shoved into the corner? We invested in a storage rental to AVOID this situation.

Maybe we dug out the skis last winter and made a promise to clean the mess up later. Maybe we share a storage unit with our roommate and she had trouble finding space for her futon. Maybe we didn’t have a good plan to start with.

Here’s a good storage mantra — your storage unit is an extension of your home. You’re not clearing out one mess to make another one down the street. You’re getting organized. Believe me, I have to remind myself of this more often than I’d like (especially when I want to grab stuff out of storage in a hurry).

Let’s not start another season with a mess on our hands. Last month, we talked about how to pack your storage space. Now — if you’ve gone off the keep-it-organized wagon a bit — it’s time to take it back

Here are some tips to get started.

Talking to a Pro: Storage Unit Organization Strategies

Amy Trager, certified professional organizer and president of the Chicago chapter of NAPO, recommends that you keep the process simple — start with one item at a time.

“If you’re confined to working within your storage unit or the area immediately outside your unit, you’ll have a space limitation,” Trager says. “Instead of pulling all your belongings out, you’ll probably be more successful pulling out a box or two at a time and making decisions before moving on.”

cleaning-friends

Trager also suggests that if the boxes in your storage unit are no longer full, you can leave them unsealed. If you find more items as you clean, they can be stored in one of the open boxes.

Things break. If you are sharing a storage unit with your friends or family members and happen to kick over Aunt Edna’s antique lamp, immediately take note of the damage. Be sure to also follow up with the owner as soon as possible.

“I’d suggest taking pictures of the broken items as they’re found,” says Trager.  “This might help show if breakage was from original movers, poor packing or simply an accident. Those involved can decide the best course of action from there.”

As you clean and organize your storage unit, Trager suggests having three boxes or sets of boxes on hand: toss, donate and keep.

“Once everything has been looked through, seal and re-label the boxes that you’re keeping,” Trager says. “Toss the trash, and take the donations to a charitable organization on the way home.”

Emotional attachment can make cleaning out a storage unit difficult. If you’re struggling with separation anxiety, it may be time to call in a professional organizer to help make those hard decisions.

“A professional will be able to provide a game plan and keep the focus on the project,” Trager says. “Spend less time getting distracted by memories. Most of the time, an organizer can ask the right questions when you’re stuck deciding if something’s a keeper or not.”

Thanks to Amy for her helpful tips! Now let’s stay organized, gang.

• DIYer, Designer, Declutterer
• Freelance Blogger & Home Beautifier
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