I have been at war with my storage unit for years.
Yes, it may sound dramatic, but it was TRUE. My storage unit was a damn war zone.
I live in a small condo and am so lucky to have an on-site storage unit on a different floor.
However, when you have a small condo AND a convenient place to put excess stuff…ALL your excess stuff goes to that place – whether you need it or not!
I have been dumping things there for years, and while I had organized it several times, it still wasn’t functional. In fact, several times I had considered hiring a colleague of mine to help me get it done!
Embarrassing, right? As an organizer you’d think that my spaces would be looking good. And most of them have been. But the storage unit was a different story. It was stressful. It was embarassing.
I knew that it was the first thing to be tackled on our “prepare to have baby” project series. It was time.
WTF, though? Why hadn’t it ever stayed organized before, you might ask?
Well, there were a couple of reasons…
1. I had never REALLY decluttered it
Sure I would box up some items here and there and donate them to Goodwill from time to time, but I never did a TRUE, no-holds-barred declutter. This time around, we had a whole van full of stuff to go! Before it would be limited to a couple of garbage bags., if that.
2. I never included my husband.
Though I had always wanted to, my husband and I could never figure out a time to declutter the storage unit together.
Honestly, doing home improvement projects together never ends well. We almost ALWAYS fight when we have to do these kinds of projects. Though I enjoy organizing, it’s not necessarily his cup of tea – too many quick decisions to make, maybe.
Though this project didn’t go 100% perfectly, we were able to get it done without divorce, so there’s that. Yes, it was stressful, but in the end, that short-term stress was a great trade off for the long term stress of having a death trap for a storage unit.
3. There just wasn’t enough space.
Yes, this goes hand-in-hand with decluttering – there was simply too much stuff in there to actually make it work. Things were piled precariously and there wasn’t any breathing room. This time around we were able to leave space for other things that might need to go down there in the future hopefully not too much. Previously, because it was packed so tight, there was NO change that it would EVER stay organized.
So – what else can I tell you about the project?
Everything has good points and bad points. Let me tell you some of the bad points…
I didn’t eat beforehand. This was a big mistake. I was shaky about halfway through it and it was hot. I made a pretty cool de-cluttering checklist a while ago that I should have done beforehand – but I didn’t. Minus ten points for me.
We forgot important materials. Luckily we weren’t too far from our place (we are on the seventh floor and the storage unit is on the second floor) so this didn’t set us back too much, but having to run upstairs to get things was a waste. For example, there was some garbage in the unit that needed to be recycled and we had to go get bags for that. I also forgot to bring my label maker down. Please people – don’t make this mistake! Make sure you have everything you need ready including water or snacks!
And we did we do right?
We were able to get our junk donated right away. Luckily my husband has a van, so we were able to load everything up in there. In the past, we have had things to get rid of that we couldn’t haul ourselves, which was a total pain in the ass. Consider this before you start organizing – borrow a vehicle or hire a hauling company if you need to so that everything can get taken care of quickly.
Another (embarassing) thing that comes to mind is this: at times, I bought things that I already had because I was terrified of looking for them in the storage unit. Yes, this is silly, but disorganization does this to people ALL the time! It’s such a waste of money, but sometimes the bad energy of a cluttered space can cause us to avoid it. Since finishing this project, I feel awesome about going down there. Just today I remembered that we had a tray down there that I wanted, so I was able to hop down there and bring it upstairs without worry.
I also make sure that things I will need soon are toward the front. For example I have a box called “Home Stuff” with things like filters for our air purifiers, lanterns, wall hooks, etc. Frequently used house stuff get stored in there, and that box lives in the front of the storage unit.
I also keep an empty box toward the front so that if I need to dump stuff that I don’t have time to organize, I can return later and sort it. That’s my “sort” box – in fact, I have things like this all over the house! Basically, it’s a landing space for excess so that things can stay tidy until I am ready to address them. (If the box is overflowing, it’s time to address it!)
I also took photos of ALL the paint colors that we had for reference. I am going to make a document of all the things that we have in storage (eventually) so we know what’s down there. Think an inventory spreadsheet. I labeled with paints with the color and the room.
So, that was our first organizing project. It was fun. It was stressful. I laughed. I cried. I sweat a LOT. But I feel good and am ready for more.
P.S. I’m still not pregnant! This house is going to be SO nested by the time a child is actually a reality in our family… 🙂