Americans have so much stuff that storage units are a 39.5 billion dollar industry. That's a lot of stuff being stored. And I can't decide whether I'm delighted by this news because, as an organizer, this means a lot of potential business, or sad that so many people feel they can't live without possessions they probably aren't actually using.
Either way, the only ones rarely benefitting from all that storage space are the people using them. So before you head off to buy more storage bins or rent a storage unit for those items, keep reading. You'll find out why you're often better off not storing items outside of your home and how to properly store the items you do keep in your home.
Situations Where Storage Facilities Actually Suck
It seems like such a simple solution. Just pack up what you don't have space for and rent a storage space nearby. What could go wrong? Here's what to ask yourself before you rent that storage unit.
Is this worth it financially? Add up the actual costs before you rent. Be sure to include the following costs:
Cost of the unit per month
Length of time you plan to rent the unit for
Possibility of depreciation of the items stored
Cost of moving items in and out of storage unit
Cost of traveling to and from the storage unit (time and money)
Also, consider how easy it is to just store items and then continue to pay the bill. Especially if it's on auto-pay. I had a client keep items in storage for 12 years. By the time she got it out, she had likely paid over $10,000 to store items no one missed for 12 years and had greatly depreciated in value. Was it worth it?
I've seen people put a sentimental value on crumpled-up Chinese cookie fortunes. That person was also struggling with hoarding tendencies, but it's really easy for anyone to just toss their clutter away and forget about it. But if you're truly committed to making your life happier and healthier, ignoring your problems won't make anything better.
Before you pack your stuff and head to your storage unit, here's what you should consider first:
Out of sight, out of mind - Do you actually see yourself heading to storage every time you need something?
Will you actually remember what you have there in a year?
Will you create a list of what you have stored so you can find everything easily?
If you aren't keeping it in your home, why do you feel it's so important that you keep it?
Storing it away from you makes it harder for you to purge items you no longer need, want, or use in your life. It also makes it harder for you to become better at organizing because you can't access it in your home.
And lastly, you deserve to live in a space that reflects back to you the amazing, smart, and capable person you really are. How much of the items you're storing can actually say that about you?
Situations Where Storage Units Don't Suck
There are situations where renting a storage unit is a smart move. You should consider renting a unit when you're:
Moving soon and need to store packed items out of sight of potential buyers
Moving overseas or away for a short time but plan to move back within a year or two
A death has occurred and you need to remove someone's belongings from a dwelling but you're not quite ready to go through them and there's not enough space in your home
You live in an expensive city and there's no extra storage anywhere and you live in a tiny little apartment with someone so you need to store off-season items because it's cheaper than renting/buying a larger apartment
While these situations will benefit from a storage unit, consider putting time limits on how long you plan to rent a space and stick to it. It's very easy for 12 years to pass by if you don't.
How to Store Items at Home
Before you store anything, whether in your home or not, purge what you don't like, aren't using, and don't need anymore first. You may find you don't need as much extra storage as you thought.
For the items remaining, here's what to consider first:
Make sure the storage solution isn't too big or too small for what you're storing in them
Label storage bins so you can easily find what you need
Opt for clear storage solutions for often-used items so you can easily find what you need
Store often-used items as close to where you use them as possible
Merge form with function so that the storage looks nice and functions the way you need it to. Otherwise, you're less likely to use an item that either looks awful or doesn't function how you need it to.
You Deserve It
Life is hard enough without surrounding yourself with items you don't like or hold no real value or meaning to you. All of these items are choices you've made and the collection of choices you're making is a reflection of how you think about yourself and your life.
If you aren't choosing in every moment to only surround yourself with things, people, and opportunities that support your goal to feel happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit then you're choosing against yourself. This is an opportunity to create the life you want by only choosing the items that reflect back to you that you are beautiful, smart, and empowered no matter what.
It's way less expensive to choose yourself than it is to surround yourself with junk that dampens your light. If you need guidance and support, it's time to schedule your first session with me.