You’re digging through your self storage unit, looking for that one Christmas ornament from grandma that you just know is in there somewhere. Now you think about it, it’s probably at the bottom of a box at the back of the unit, where it was placed after last year’s festivities. As you dig, a growing pile of items blocks the entrance to your unit. Stacks of boxes tip over. You’ve stopped to sift through a few things you’d forgotten were in there. And the Christmas bauble is discovered after hours of hard work.

This is especially frustrating when you were just in there last month looking for your warm winter clothes. And the month before that, getting ready for your trip abroad. Now is the time to avoid all future headaches, organising your unit so that you find everything quickly and easily whenever you need it. Instead of trying to untangle the Gordian knot, it’s time to cut through it. Just follow these tips.

Stack wellBoxes in a messy stack

If you’re anything like us, this image of a very messy stack is deeply unsettling

Light and small things at the top, big and heavy things at 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 boxes that stack well on top of each other – Nesta’s large and medium sized boxes work nicely for this [link]. 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

When you are packing, it is tempting to think that if you remember what went into the boxes now, you will easily recall their contents later. Yet, we all know this is the exact kind of thing that gets forgotten fast as time goes by. Get a bold marker or even stick-on labels, write on each box clearly what is inside, and make sure the labels are facing in a direction that is easily visible when you access your boxes later in storage.

Organise 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, or you are finding all your boxes to be difficult to organise, 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.