1. Get rid of your stuff. Your storage space goes further when you have less to put in it.
Whether you subscribe to the Marie Kondo The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up ethos of everything you own should bring you joy…
… or opt for the more ruthless “well, this is big and heavy. Definitely not storing this” approach, you want to try and get rid of as much of your stuff as possible before you even get to your new storage space.
Well for starters, it’s going to make your life a lot easier. The less you have to deal with the better. But there are other benefits too.
When you’re putting something into storage, it can be easy to say “oh, remember that time when….” And throw the sentimental, but ultimately useless, item in the box.
Instead, if you find something like a single glove that you lost the mate of years ago but loved so much you hung onto the one you had because it reminded you of such good times, take a picture and chuck.
Remember: we’re aiming for ruthless.
Another approach is to consider your storage space a strictly utilitarian space. Spartan, even. If something doesn’t have a specific function that you can envision needing at some later date, then it does not make it into the storage unit.
Why? Because you’re not going to be living or interacting with these things. So any emotional attachment you have is wasted because when they’re in storage, it’s like you threw them away already – but are paying to keep them around.
For example, a sofa is an excellent thing to put into storage. At some point later, you’re likely to want a sofa.
But the lone glove from before? Perhaps not.
This is the most important step of the storage space process – the more stuff you cull, the easier a moving day you’re going to have (and the less pressure there is to be a storage space genius!)
2. Get all your stuff in uniform (stackable) boxes
Did you know that the backbone of the global economy is the humble shipping container?
Before shipping containers, moving stuff around the world was really expensive because ships were loaded ineffectively with all sorts of different sized packages. Less stuff per ship and longer unloading times meant expensive shipping.
And you know what saved it?
A standard size box – the shipping container.
You need to treat your storage space like a ship’s hold. And the best way (as any good captain will tell you) to cram in a lot of stuff is to standardize your stuff.
So got to the store and spring for some heavy duty plastic boxes for storage. Cardboard will work in a pinch, but something heavier is better just in case water is an issue.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
- Boxes that stack. They don’t have to have special lids that the bottoms will fit into, they just can’t have domed tops or anything
- Square, straight sides. The have to be able to be flush with the corner of your unit
And if you’re really picky, you can actually measure the boxes to out exactly how many will it across, to make sure you can get enough in (e.g. if you have five by five unit, it’s no good getting three by three boxes. You’re just making more work for yourself!)
3. Make a plan (and possibly a map)
Next, you need to make a plan in order to get all your stuff into a tiny space.
The best approach is to sit down and draw out your storage unit (with measurements).
Then, just start adding in items, measuring them as you go so you’re not just making it up as you go along.
This will probably take few tries and there is literally no chance of your planning working 100 percent right on the day, but at the very least you have a good idea of where stuff needs to go and a good idea of how the big stuff is going to fit in (e.g. couch on its end, table pressed against the wall).
Working all this out on paper is a lot faster, a lot less sweaty, and infinitely less stressful than trying to get it done on the day.
Plus, it might fuel your ruthless culling when you realize just how much stuff you’ve managed to accumulate.
4. Pack smart
Bubble wrap and butcher’s paper (or packing paper) is your friend.
Wrap everything tightly so it takes up less room but with enough padding so as not to break. It also pays to distribute really heavy things around so that you end up straining your back lifting the one 100 pound box while the rest are clocking in at 20 pounds.
Again, the more time you spend packing thoroughly and well, the less likely your stuff will be damaged over time and the smoother everything will go on moving day.
5. Create “shelves” with plywood planks
Plywood “shelving” created by spreading planks between boxes will help distribute the weight of the boxes on top across all the boxes beneath them.
If you’ve opted for cardboard boxes, this is particularly important because cardboard boxes tend to get crushed over time (especially if there’s any moisture).
Plus, by creating shelves you enable much easier stacking of the boxes as you continue to go up to the ceiling and thus, you get the most from your storage space.
Whether you’re moving cities, downsizing, or just looking to declutter your life, a storage space can be a great way to reduce your clutter and get some space around you to evaluate and assess.
And with these five storage organizational tips, you can be sure that you’re getting the most that you can out of your storage unit –wherever you might be.