Decluttering | Living Simply
How to Organize & Declutter a Storage Room & Avoid Overwhelm
How to Organize & Declutter a Storage Room & Avoid Overwhelm
Organizing a storage room can be a daunting task, but with a systematic approach, it becomes much more manageable. Here’s a guide to help you organize and declutter a storage room effectively.
The Best Way to Declutter a Storage Room is to Break the Job Into Small Chunks.
Do not attempt to pull everything out at once. This is a recipe for becoming overwhelmed before you have made any progress. You also want to avoid haphazardly digging into random boxes.
By starting in one space like a corner or one-shelving unit and finishing that space before moving on, you will be able to clearly see your progress, which will help you to stay motivated.
Assess and Sort Categories Together
Pull out all items from a specific space and sort like items together. I like to tackle one shelf at a time. Obvious trash or items to donate can be put into boxes or bags during this process.
Sort the items you either decide to keep or are not sure about into piles of related items. For example Photos, camping gear, Christmas tree decorations, etc. Use sticky notes to easily identify your piles. Use boxes or empty totes to temporarily hold piles of like items.
Work the From Inside, Out
It is best to go through boxes and other items that you already have stored on your existing shelving units before moving on to items sitting on the floor. By doing this, you likely will free up space on your shelving unit and make room for the things sitting on your floor. As you make progress, you can now utilize the newly freed up space on your shelving unit.
Invest in Functional Storage Solutions
Once you have finished going through all of your boxes and bins, you may find that you need more shelving. Decide if you might benefit from purchasing and assembling another shelving unit or two to get things off the floor.
Do you have lots of boxes and bins that are stacked on top of each other? If so, not only will the bottom bins be hard to get to, but they likely will eventually collapse under the stress of holding too much weight for too long.
Shelving units allow you to take advantage of vertical space. They also make it easier to locate items without digging through piles of boxes…ugh. Choose sturdy shelving units with adjustable shelves to allow for flexibility as your storage needs change over the years.
Do You Have Lots of Things Stored in Cardboard Boxes?
It is best to get items that you are storing in boxes moved into plastic bins to protect them from moisture and critters, especially if your storage room is in a basement or a storage unit.
I like to use clear plastic totes, and labels to keep items easily accessible and visible. This is the one area in the house where I recommend keeping all of your plastic containers sealed with an air-tight top. In a pantry, open-topped bins are great for easy access but the things stored in your storage room need to be protected.
Evaluate & Eliminate
Once you have sorted through everything and have several piles of categorized items that you are keeping, it’s time to come back and evaluate your piles. Now is the time to make the harder decisions, but it will be easier now that you can clearly see how much you have.
Decide what to keep and what to purge. Ask yourself, Do I use it? Do I love it? Do I have space for it? If you can’t answer yes to some of these questions, consider donating it.
Divide the storage room into zones based on the categories identified earlier. For example, designate a specific area for holiday decorations, another for tools, and so on.
Store more frequently used items at eye level or within easy reach. Reserve higher and lower spaces for items that are accessed rarely. This ensures a more efficient use of the storage room.
Schedule regular maintenance sessions to keep the storage room organized. Take a few minutes every few months to declutter, rearrange, and ensure everything is in its designated place.
Why it’s Important to Declutter Your Storage Room Sooner Than Later.
A few years ago, I spent several days trying to declutter the storage room of a client. She wanted to get her home ready for a future move. We were about two days in, with seemingly a long road ahead, when she sighed heavily and called out her warning to me.
“Whatever you do,” she said, “Do not wait forever to go through your storage room and declutter like I did!”
My client is not alone, a survey shows that 54% of Americans are overwhelmed with their clutter and don’t know what to do with it. This means that there are more people who struggle with clutter than those that don’t. Additionally, 1 in 11 U.S households rents some sort of off site storage space to hold their belongings.
It’s Best Not To Put Off Decluttering Your Storage Room
My client’s large storage room was packed full of all of the beloved and not-so-beloved things of yesteryear. Her three adult children had moved out years ago. We had sorted piles of kids’ keepsakes, stuff to donate, stuff to give to her children, stuff to sell, and stuff to keep.
She told me that if she only could have known when she was younger what a burden all of her stuff would become, she would have done a better job of dealing with it then rather than letting it build up.
The Longer You Wait, To Declutter The Storage Room – The Bigger The Burden
She had accumulated a mountain of stuff that fell into the ambiguous category of ‘No longer treasures, but not yet trash’, including old furniture, home décor, and framed photos that no longer merited a place upstairs.
As the years went by, her storage room became a graveyard of things forgotten from yesterday. Her situation was not at all uncommon, many families struggle with the same issue, especially if they have lived in the same home for many years.
I commended my client for making the decision to deal with it now. Because this job is a physically and emotionally demanding one, it’s best not to wait until we are 90 to declutter the storage room. I also reminded her that some people leave the job undone forever, placing a giant burden on their adult children.
Decide to Decide Now
Much of the clutter in storage rooms ultimately represents indecision, and it is tempting to put off all of those difficult decisions until tomorrow. Make it your goal to thoroughly go through your clutter well before your last child leaves home. It is best to deal with clutter when you notice that it is starting to build up.
Take the following 5 steps to ensure that you never have to face a giant decluttering job in the storage room:
- Always have a donation box available for your family to drop things into and make sure everyone knows where it is kept at all times. Write DONATE on the side of the box for clarity.
- Set up a twice-yearly routine to go through your storage room and get rid of the things you are no longer using. There is a constant influx of new stuff coming into our homes each year. Make sure the same amount is going out.
- Force yourself to make those tough decisions now rather than later. Be realistic, if an item has lost its shine or is not really useful anymore; be open to letting it go NOW.
- Only stock up on nonperishable essentials like toilet paper and paper towels. Avoid stocking up on things that, “you might use someday,” but have no immediate need for in the near future.
- Limit keepsakes by going through them regularly. Be selective about what items you keep and take photos of the rest.
If you break the job down into small chunks, organizing and decluttering your storage room does not have to be an overwhelming task. And by creating categorical zones within your storage room and utilizing the right organizing products, you can create a space that is efficient and user friendly.
Additionally, by becoming more vigilant of what you park in your storage room today, you can save yourself the pain of having to face an mountain of clutter tomorrow.
I am a Southern California turned small town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls.
Back when I first started my organizing journey in 2013, I had what I thought of as a dirty little secret. I have ADHD and although I am organized, and enjoy the process of sorting, and tidying. I knew that there were many others with ADHD who really struggled with staying organized. I had a case of imposter syndrome and mostly kept the fact that I had ADHD to myself. That is until I learned that there are other successful professional organizers who have also learned to compensate for their ADHD.
I eventually realized that my need for order and simplicity actually stems from having ADHD as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am able to relate to and help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.
I help women and moms with ADHD, but I also help those who struggle with clutter without having ADHD. Because simplicity and less clutter are always at the heart of staying organized, there is much overlap when it comes to finding solutions to clutter and disorganization.
I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible and to helping others do the same by teaching them how to declutter their homes, simplify their lives, and manage their busy families better.
I have been helping others stay organized since 2013.
It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life.
in your space…
…but let it be
as a daisy
in a vase.
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