Friday, July 17, 2015

Moving Tips: How to Organize Your Stuff for Storage

Earlier this week, I shared the tips and tricks that Kenny and I picked up while decluttering our home last month. While our decluttering cut down on the sheer volume of things in our apartment, we still had quite a few belongings that simply didn't have a home in our new apartment. Instead, we sent them off to a near by storage unit. Because our things will be in storage for at least several years, I wanted to make sure that we'd be able to have easy, headache-free access to everything. So, because I am me, I made lists. Check out the steps I followed below, then let me know what tips you have for setting up an easy-access storage unit. Happy packing!

1. Sort

First, I gathered everything that would be going into storage and placed it all in the middle of my living room. Then, I divided my belongings into three pile categories:

Won't Need
What went here: our fancy china (We can't fit more than two people around our table, much less host a fancy dinner for two. But you better believe that we're having a fancy dinner party the moment we become homeowners.), unused throw pillows, keepsakes, furniture we won't be using 

Might Need Occasionally
What went here: extra kitchen supplies that we don't use regularly, infrequently-worn clothing,  extra home decor

Will Need Several Times a Year
What went here: bulk items like shampoo and toilet paper that we don't have room to store in the apartment, holiday decor, winter coats

2. Sort Into Boxes

Once you've broken your belongings up into the three categories, group things with like items. For example, I put all of our bulk items together in one box, all of our holiday decor in one box, and all of our excess kitchenware in one box.

3. Make a Spreadsheet

Before you begin actually packing boxes, begin a spreadsheet on your laptop. Within your spreadsheet, create a page for every box. As you pack, make a list of the items in each box.

When you finish, print each list and attach it to the outside of the corresponding box. Now in 6 months when you can't find your electric mixer, you'll be able to quickly check to see a) if it's in storage and b) which box it's in.

4. Thoughtfully Arrange

You've packed your boxes, you made your lists, and you've loadedup the moving truck. Now what? Well, for me and Kenny, the final thing was to arrange our belongings in our storage unit as thoughtfully as possible. Remember how you separated your things into three categories? Let these categories guide you as put things into storage.

  • Place the items you're least likely to need in the least accessible areas: in the back of the unit, on the highest shelves, and on the bottom of box stacks.
  • Fill in with your might-need items in and around these boxes.
  • Finally, place the boxes you're most likely to need in easily-accessible areas: in the front of the unit by the door, on eye-level/arm-level shelves, on the top of piles. 

With every box, make sure your lists and box numbers are facing out and are easily visible. This way, you can easily locate boxes when searching for things in the future.

And voila! An organized and accessible storage space.

What storage tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve? What alterations or additions would you make to this list?


  1. I love your comments on thoughtfully arranging your stuff. That is the greatest strategy to place all the big stuff in the back and move to the front of the unit with progressively smaller items. It makes logical sense to do it that way. Typically, you'll need the smaller items more often. If you have to peel away couches and mattresses to get to the small stuff, that would be horrible.

  2. I love your comments on thoughtfully arranging your stuff. That is the greatest strategy to place all the big stuff in the back and move to the front of the unit with progressively smaller items. It makes logical sense to do it that way. Typically, you'll need the smaller items more often. If you have to peel away couches and mattresses to get to the small stuff, that would be horrible.

  3. With lot of boxes and labels. ;-) Nice categorizing based on usage, really nice. And yes, Excel could be a good place to write the content of each box. Good idea, congrats!

  4. Wow, I totally never thought of using a spreadsheet for storage! I usually end up writing ever single thing that's in the box on the side of the box. But then it takes just as long to look for anything as if I just started rummaging through my entire storage unit. Instead of printing them, I'd just leave them on the computer and use ctrl+F to search for things. Thanks for the tips, that'll make everything a lot easier to store!

    1. I do both! I printed them out in case I don't get a chance to search the spreadsheet before I leave. That way, I have the benefit of both methods.

  5. Thanks for your tips on how to prepare your things for storage during a move. My parents had to do this because they sold their home and had to wait for their new home to close before they could move in. You make a great point about making a spread sheet that lists the content of each of your boxes. It's an easy way to find something should you need it from your storage unit.

  6. Thanks for your tips on how to organize your storage unit. I like your tip on making a spreadsheet to label boxes and know what is in them should you need to retrieve something from storage. My parents had a storage unit and they did the same thing, and it helped to save a lot of time. I'll keep your tips in mind should I ever rent a storage unit.

  7. These are some absolutely brilliant tips, I would have never thought to make a spreadsheet to keep up with what is inside each box. That is something I am definitely going to have to keep in mind when I help my parents store their stuff in a few weeks as they get ready to move to a smaller home. It shouldn't be too difficult although we might have to add a few special lists for fragile items since my mom has a lot of china and porcelain dolls.

  8. Making sure that all of the boxes that I put in storage are labeled and that they're facing out seems like a good way to make them easily visible. Doing that could help me save time on figuring out exactly what box I should be looking for. There have been a few times when I spent over an hour digging around my storage unit looking for things that I need in my boxes. Clearly labeling all of the contents in my boxes in a way that I can easily see them will help make finding things in storage easier. Thanks for the tips!

  9. There are many tips in order to have an easy move. This one is useful. Great article.It’s sometimes so hard to organise all the staff you have when you are moving. And you become irritating when see everything in disorder and can’t find document or other things you need.

  10. Thanks for your tips on how to store your things in Self Storage Units during a move. It is really helpful for me. Thanks once again.

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  12. Really, loved your post. Great post. You have covered some important points about storage. We are mover based in Sydney. You can contact with us if need

  13. Your "won't need" "might need" and "will need" categories are very thoughtful! I imagine sitting down and making a list like that would be great, even for just organizing a closet or a shed. My wife has been wanting to open a storage unit, but I didn't like the idea of having to go out of the house for things we might need. I'll have to talk to her about this idea of yours.

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  18. I've been trying to figure out how to decide what comes with me to my next apartment. I really like the idea of renting storage unit since I'll only be downsizing for a while. That would be a big help because I don't want to get rid of some of my bigger pieces of furniture that I'm sure I'll use again.

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