Use Self Storage to Organize

Control your inner packrat

If you are up to your ears in stuff, one good way to get control is to rent a self-storage space. If you´re downsizing or moving into temporary accommodations while waiting for a house, self-storage provides an option for extending your space requirements.

For the inveterate packrat, it can provide a painless way to wean yourself from unused possessions without making the big commitment to get rid of it all at once. That runs counter to most organizers and declutter pros because their advice is usually to sort through and toss, sell, or recycle possessions you haven´t used in a year or more. That´s all very well and good, but part of the reason we acquire so much stuff and hang on to it is because

There are a plethora o´ reasons and yours are probably like everyone else´s but flavored with your own rationale. So it´s time to embrace your packrat nature. You can control it and get your home organized so that even a feng shui expert will be impressed. Once you have an opportunity to live clutter free with just what you need and love, you´ll probably find it much easier to let go of the rest permanently.

Easy plan for self storage and decluttering

  1. Decide what you want to store. Do you want to store furniture or books? Measure the largest pieces to get the smallest possible dimensions. Unless you stand it on end, a six foot couch just won´t fit in a four foot storage unit.
  2. If it´s trash, throw it away. Old magazines, books without covers, broken toys, and chipped dishes are garbage. Unless you REALLY plan to mend them, throw them away. If it makes you feel better, recycle what you can and keep it out of the landfill.
  3. Move everything into the storage unit that doesn´t have a permanent storage place in your home.
  4. Keep duplicates only if you have the storage available and will be using them near the point of storage. For example, keep a flash light in the car, utility closet, and emergency box. You probably don´t need three can openers in your kitchen drawer. Put one in the emergency box and another in with camping gear. If you don´t camp, give it to the thrift store.
  5. Clean house. Once you have all the extra stuff out of the way, your space is going to feel much lighter and cleaner. It will be much easier to maintain.

Once you´ve achieved the clean house with places for everything, it´s time for a new rule: Don´t bring anything in that doesn´t have a space allocated for its storage near the area where it will be used. For example, you wake up one morning and decide that you want a Belgian waffle. If you have a waffle iron in storage you can go get it, of course, but only after asking yourself why you put it in storage in the first place. Did it sit forlornly on the shelf year after year because you were too busy to make Belgian waffles?

If you´ve never had a waffle iron, do you think you would use it again or is it an impulse purchase? Where are you going to store it? The waffle iron might cost you $30. Sometimes, it just makes sense to go out for breakfast.

Take advantage of services offered by others, or rent instead of buying. After all, if you buy it, you have to store it and if you use it only once or twice, it becomes expensive clutter.

How long do you keep stuff in storage

That´s entirely up to you. Storage is cost-effective only as long as it provides value. It won´t take long before it feels like an expensive drain on your resources, especially if what you are storing is excess stuff. If money is less important than housing your stuff, you can keep the storage unit indefinitely. However, if you are like most of us, you´ll start to chafe at the monthly storage bill. After a few months, you´ll begin to forget what you even have in storage.

When that happens, go to the storage facility, pick up one box or one item and decide what to do with it. If it´s a piece of furniture, take a picture and list it on eBay or Craig´s List. Give it away to a deserving college student. If it´s a box, go through the box item by item and decide what you are going to do with each piece. Keep your disposition project small. Take tiny bites of the elephant. Don´t keep anything you don´t have a storage space for and don´t remember the last time you used. (Presumably all of the important memorabilia has been given its own sacred spot. If it hasn´t, then maybe you should let it go.)

About the storage facility

What type and size facility will depend on where you live, what you want to store, and how much space you need. If you need a climate controlled facility or 24-hour access, you´ll pay for the privilege. If you are able to discipline yourself to get rid of stuff systematically, you may want a facility that will let you move to a smaller unit as you thin stuff out. A reputable, secure facility will be able to protect your goods from common problems. Check with your insurer to see if your insurance coverage extends to storage. If not, you may want to consider insurance, too.

The end game

Ultimately, self storage should be a temporary solution. If you think this won´t work, you can always hire a professional organizer to crack the whip over your head, have that garage sale, or donate everything to the local thrift store. And for that, you get a tax deduction! It beats throwing a match on it.

For more answers to your questions about self-storage, check the Guide to Self Storage.


For self storage options, MigrationNation can help.

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