Imagine you see a weather report calling for freezing temperatures and realize that all your cold-weather clothing is in storage. With temperatures plummeting and the wind whipping, you make the trip to your self storage unit and start digging through boxes looking for your sweaters, coats, and boots.
The last thing you want to do is pull everything out of your storage unit and dig through boxes looking for something, especially if the weather is bad or the timing is inconvenient. A little bit of planning ahead to make sure your storage unit is organized can save you from a bunch of headaches later on. Here are nine simple tips to help organize a storage unit so that you can find what you need with ease.
1. Pick one box size.
Same-size boxes help with stacking and accessibility. Small or medium boxes will be perfect for most of your belongings. Keep in mind large boxes are excellent for items that aren’t very heavy, but may not hold up well at the bottom of large stacks. Large boxes (especially at the bottom of a stack) are also more difficult to remove if you need something out of them.
2. Pick out the items you will most likely need to access.
Things you don’t use regularly when you’re packing may be needed later on. Carefully consider what you may need while your items are in storage, giving extra thought to seasonal items.
3. Label each box as you pack.
Label each box on the top and at least one side with a unique box number, the room it came from, and the contents of the box. Place a special mark on boxes you may need to access at some point during storage and remember to put them in your storage unit last. Be as detailed as possible with the contents.
4. Create a master list.
Write down all of the contents of each box along with the box number on paper. This seems like a cumbersome step, but a master list becomes really handy when you need to find a specific item, especially if some of your boxes will be completely out of view.
If you prefer to keep things digital, there are even tools you can use to dictate text so you don’t have to type as you go. And if you want to take the organization one step further (or don’t trust your handwriting), you can print each line from your inventory to create custom labels for your boxes!
5. Organize a layout for your storage unit.
If you’re going to access your unit frequently, you’re going to need to put some thought into how you pack your storage unit. Ideally, you want to put the furniture against the wall opposite your boxes to leave a path in the middle of the unit. This way, you can access boxes and furniture items without any hassle. If you need to use the space in the middle, place your most moveable items there so you can remove them with ease.
6. Use shelving or stack boxes.
If this is a long-term storage solution, place sturdy shelves along one wall of the unit. If not, stack your boxes with these guidelines in mind:
- Stack from back to front in order of need. The boxes that you will access most frequently should be the last ones packed inside the storage unit and be near the door or on shelves with labels facing out.
- Put larger, heavier boxes down first, and then you can stack lighter ones on top. Be careful how high you stack. If boxes are stacked above your head, the whole stack is susceptible to falling, creating a hazard for you and anything breakable in the storage unit.
- Consider using a brick-wall pattern when stacking same-size boxes. It’ll seem somewhat inefficient, since you’ll have spaces on the ends of your stack, but the brick wall pattern allows you to remove and replace boxes without moving the boxes above it.
7. Unpack and repack your boxes.
If you’ve already packed and have a bunch of unlabeled boxes filled with whatever fit conveniently, you might want to invest some time repacking now to save yourself a lot of time later. Repack similar items like seasonal clothes or bakeware into their own boxes.
Packing items that fit within general categories are fine; you just don’t want to pack things like boots and coats with snorkeling gear. You’ll have an easier time forgiving yourself if you spend extra time to repack, label, and organize everything now than if you decide not repack everything and need to tear your storage unit apart to find something simple like boots.
While these steps may take some time at first—especially if you already have everything packed in boxes—they are well worth your effort. You will save yourself a lot of time and energy in the future, which would otherwise be spent sifting through unmarked, disorganized boxes.