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Here’s what may be a familiar scene. Digging through your self-storage unit, you’re looking for that one Christmas ornament that you just know is in there somewhere. It’s probably stuck at the bottom of a box at the back of the unit, where it has been hiding out since this time last year. As you dig into the storage boxes, a growing pile of items blocks the entrance to your unit. Stacks of stuff tip over. You stop to sift through a few things you’d forgotten were in there. And the Christmas bauble is discovered only after hours of hard work.

Now is the time to avoid the headache, and organise your unit so that everything can be found quickly and easily, whenever you need it. Just follow the tips below, and be well on the way to a better organised unit.

Stack wellBoxes in a messy stack

Let this image of a very messy storage box stack inspire to get organised

Light and small things at the top, big and heavy things at the bottom. It may seem like simple common sense, but things can get jumbled fast when they are stacked and re-stacked in a hurry. In order to avoid this, use cardboard boxes that stack well on top of each other – Nesta’s large sized cardboard boxes and medium sized cardboard boxes work nicely for this. If your packaging is consistent, it becomes a lot easier to stick with the right stacking order, and keep the stacks from tipping over.

Label your boxes

It is tempting to think that if you remember what went into the boxes now, you will easily recall their contents later. Yet, it is more than likely that this kind of thing will get forgotten quickly as time goes by. Use a bold box marker pen or even stick-on labels, and write on each box clearly what is inside. The labels on your boxes should face in a direction that is easily visible when you access your boxes later in storage.

Plan your unit’s layout

If you often tend to go back to your unit for seasonal items, it makes sense to organise your unit by season. You can also apply a “house” logic to your unit, with an area for living room items, one for bedroom, one for toiletries, and so forth. As an additional means to jog your memory, you can place a map of your layout on the wall of your unit.

Get shelving

If your unit is roomy enough, consider getting shelving installed. This makes it easier to arrange your valuables, and keeps the stacks at bay when you are reaching for that buried item at the back. On that note, keep the things you need most often easy to access, at the front of your storage unit. You can use your entire space by adding shelving nearer the ceiling, but in that case remember to bring something you can stand on to reach those higher shelves.