My original title for this article had the word “unit” in it, because it being summer and all, many clients are deciding to face their off-site storage units. Then I realized that actually just about everyone has some version of a space that strikes fear in their hearts. It could be a unit that is draining your bank account, but it might also be the garage, the craft room, the empty bedroom or the pantry.
What they have in common is that they are receptacles for things that you are not facing. This does include sewing projects and cans of old tomato sauce, just so you know.
The basic approach to storage is that things are grouped into recognizable categories, and contained in ways that are efficient for their shapes. Cans get stacked, fabric gets folded, and boxes get labeled and stacked, and so forth. In all the possible storage places it can get complicated, and most of all by a reaction of overwhelm.
This seems to be my bread and butter as an organizer, my ability to look at one of these fun spaces and see the underlying order. If I could bottle it I would, but I like the look of amazed delight on people’s faces when an actual craft room appears…or the back wall of a cupboard, or a tool bench behind the camping-stuff-pile.
And there is if folks, the lynch-pin concept: PILE.
Any place things are “stored” will get out of hand if there is no underlying order. Without that it’s too easy to just toss things in, and slam the door. This is how piles form, and trust me, they breed in the dark.
When we get back to facing an actual storage UNIT, the anxiety level is usually even higher for a number of reasons. These can become black-holes-of-Calcutta because of how they are filled, under duress, in a rush, or just out of desperation. Add to that the fact that the boxes and objects are often carrying emotional weight. Inherited things that need to be sorted, the family dances around that whole procedure, the fear of decisions that will have to be made…these are just the starting point.
Even if all the stuff in there is now yours alone, the process of incorporating it into your life may be exactly what’s stopping you. The question comes down to how much you are willing to pay in money for the delight of having it hanging over your head. Oh dear, did that sound mean? Well, if it is NOT hanging over your head then you probably don’t care, and are not reading this.
Yes, there are going to be situations in which paying for a storage unit is the only way forward. I totally understand that, and in those circumstances most people pack it carefully, have a time-line for moving it out, and do so as soon as possible.(LOL)
For the rest of you who know it is a problem there is still a way to make the situation better, and that is to face the space and make it earn its keep. As a longer term storage solution the unit should not be striking fear into your heart, and here is how:
- Go open it up and review what’s in there.
- Have garbage, recycle and donate containers WITH you.
- Do NOT haul undifferentiated boxes of “whatever” back home to review – you won’t do it, and it will feel even worse.
- One exception: paper. It’s too hard to do at the unit.
- Over time you should be able to make decisions about what stays and what has been avoided up to now.
- Re-stack and label the boxes.
- Shift large furniture to one side, not the back, so you can get it out when you want to.
- Donate, recycle or trash (as appropriate) EVERYTHING you have no intention of bringing back to your home.
If you can get through this process you can lock it up again and sleep easier. When it’s time to fully jettison the stuff and the costs, it will be a much less fraught project.
And if it’s just too scary, give me a call and I will be glad to offer my services…but not in the month of September this year. It’s time for another trip, and my next newsletter will explain some changes in my editorial calendar ahead.