An organized use of a storage unit

If I’m in a storage unit, it’s usually to help a client move out of it. Sometimes they don’t even remember what’s in there, and they’re horrified to realize how much money they’ve paid all these months and years to store things they don’t even want anymore!

There are a few situations, though, where a storage unit is the perfect solution. This time I not only recommended it, but I helped my client rent the unit and move into it!

What do you think is the most Org4life-approved use of a storage unit? Click To Tweet

The “walking space” arrow points to another part of the unit you can’t see from here. But also, walking space between aisles of shelving improves access to your things if you think you’ll be there long enough to need it.

My client has just moved, to a temporary home in another state. She doesn’t know where she’ll end up, or when, and she doesn’t have that much stuff. The space we rented is only 50 s.f. Before she left we packed up some of her things and took them to the storage unit. She packed her car with what she needed for the time being, and left the rest for me to organize, pack, and store for her.

The first thing we did was to install shelving. This protects her stuff from the weight of her other stuff, and makes everything more accessible. Accessibility is less important in a situation where you know exactly when you’re moving in to a new home, and everything is being moved at that time. But we don’t really know how long it will be for her, or what she’ll need between now and the time she moves it all to a more permanent home. (And if I’m going to be the one to fetch it for her, I don’t want to be moving boxes to get access to other boxes!) In this case we used a couple of plastic shelving units she already had, so it wasn’t hard to convince her to use them.

Much of my advice for packing for storage is the same for organizing to de-stress a move, such as:

  • Don’t pack things you don’t want, and then pay to store (or move) them!
  • Pack pure (not mixed) categories in boxes & label them.
  • Create a box inventory and take photos to remind you of what’s in them.
  • Don’t stack your boxes, use shelving!

“Pure categories” means there is nothing in these boxes but books. No clothing, no kitchen ware, no photo albums, no towels. Nothing to go missing and wonder about if you don’t open these boxes for a while.

For more tips, see Who’s Afraid of their Storage Unit?

What about you? Do you have a storage unit? What are your circumstances? Are the things you are storing there still important to you? (Do you remember what’s in those boxes?) Are they worth what you’ve been paying over time?

Please share in the comments below!

And…if you need help storing, or un-storing your stuff, don’t hesitate to give me, or a NAPO organizer near you, a call!

Update: This blog post was written in 2017. Within 6 months my client had settled in another state and vacated this storage unit. Good for her!

Copyright 2017-2019 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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  1. Suzanna Kaye on June 21, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    I agree – especially about using shelving instead of stacking if possible. Makes such a huge difference!!!

    • Hazel Thornton on June 22, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      And how do we know? Because of all the stacks of boxes we’ve seen, crushing each other!

  2. Seana Turner on June 22, 2017 at 6:28 am

    I think the key word here is “temporary.” I think storage units are wonderful if they are for a short period of time. Many of us have this type of need. They may also be the best solution if you are living in a very small space and use it like an offsite closet/shed. Your tips are so important, though, because it is VERY EASY to lose track of what is inside. Shelving is a must!

  3. Hazel Thornton on June 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Yes….temporary. Even my other examples (in another post) involve periodically using (seasonal items, sports equipment) or changing out the storage room contents (rotating inventory).

  4. Linda Samuels on July 8, 2019 at 9:31 am

    The storage industry is huge. So often stuff (and unedited things too) get stored there as a “temporary” measure, but it turns into a long-term situation. The out of sight, out of mind is what happens. Even if a bill arrives monthly or is auto-debited from a credit or bank account, it still isn’t enough to motivate people to rethink what the unit contains. So in most cases, I encourage my clients to avoid storage unless it’s absolutely necessary. This can be helpful for moves that are influx (as you described,) renovations, or college kids that live far from home moving in and out of dorms during the summer.

    And if a storage unit is needed, the shelving idea is excellent. As you said, it makes it much easier to locate things and physically safer to retrieve what’s needed.

  5. Diane N. Quintana on July 8, 2019 at 9:54 am

    I do have a storage unit. I have things – furniture mostly that my adult children have told me they want to keep and use when they have the money for a bigger house. I also saved all their legos! Those kits are so darned expensive!!

  6. Janet Schiesl on July 8, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    I once organized a storage unit. It housed a large (50+ inventoried boxes) collection of matchbooks. It was amazing! He wanted to be able to go there and work on his collection. But the client never did. Storage units are usually unnecessary, except in instances like you described.

  7. Thomas Clarence on January 22, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    I love how you mentioned that it is a good idea to take a picture of the items that are in your boxes so that you can remember what is in them when you place them in storage. My wife and I are going to be moving in with her parents for a couple of months and we are planning on using a storage unit to keep the majority of our things in. We will have to take pictures with our phones so that we can remember what we place in each box.

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