As a Professional Organizer, I hear a lot of people talk about their shame for having a storage unit. Pop culture has created a stigma around storage units. There’s so much societal shaming that gets done about how people have “too much stuff”. There are “socially acceptable” reasons for getting a storage unit: when you’re remodeling your house, temporarily living out of the state/country, or you’re putting your home on the market and need a place to stash your stuff while you’re in between homes. The Huffington Post did an article entitled: “America has more self-storage facilities than McDonald’s, because apparently we’re all hoarders.” They say, “Turns out the only thing Americans may love more than Big Macs is hoarding.” The article goes on to scold the 65% of people who rent a storage unit AND have a garage. Sure, American’s do love to buy stuff and keep it around “just in case”, but I am an advocate for storage units, if that’s what makes the most sense for you. Are you considering renting a storage unit? Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine if getting (or keeping) a storage unit is right for you.
- Is your creative energy stifled because you don’t have enough space? Creative people generally need more space. I guarantee you, Dale Chihuly does not store all his artwork in his basement! He has multiple studios, warehouses and galleries where the works gets created, stored, and seen. Creative people need a place to spread out to do their art. They need a place to store their finished art that they’re preparing for a show, and a place to keep their inventory that hasn’t sold yet. They need to store their equipment and raw materials. If you’ve been “playing small” as an artist, let yourself expand! Depending on your work habits, you may want to rent a studio space, or a storage unit so that you can allow for your creativity to continue to flow.
- Do you feel cramped in your home by all your stuff? Declutter in stages. By moving a portion of your stuff to a storage unit, you’ll have enough room to think and to move around so that you can create adequate homes for everything you really want to keep.
- Do you like where you live? If you’re someone who lives in a small apartment in the city, and you LOVE where you live, it may make the most economical sense to utilize a storage unit. If you’ve been living in a small place in the city, but have been contemplating moving to the suburbs or to the country where you’ll be able to afford more square footage, a move may be what’s best for you.
- Do you have a lot of seasonal hobbies or decorations? People in the Pacific Northwest LOVE the outdoors! Some hobbies can be done year round, while others are more seasonal. Are you someone that really loves to mountain bike and camp in the summer and snowboard in the winter? Separate your stuff into clearly labeled bins and store the off-season hobbies in your storage unit. The same goes for decorations. Many people LOVE to go all-out on their holiday decorations. Separate out each holiday into separate bins and label clearly.
- Do you have a lot of someone else’s stuff in your home? Have they passed away? If you’ve got someone else’s stuff in your home, and they live somewhere else, it may be time that you ask them to retrieve their stuff so you can reclaim your space. If you’re storing the stuff from someone who’s passed away, and you’re emotionally not ready to go through it yet, untangle it from your home and put it in a storage unit. This creates some distance from the stuff and will help loosen the ties that are weighing you down. When you’re ready to go through it, you can take a few boxes at a time back home so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Do you avoid going through your stuff, or have more stuff than you’ll be able to go through in a lifetime on your own? This is where people get into trouble with storage units. A professional organizer can help! If you’re a compulsive shopper or unrealistic about the quantity of projects you’ll actually get to, shoving everything into a storage unit may compound your problems. If you feel like you have serious issues with hoarding or compulsive shopping, or you’re plagued with deep feelings of “not being enough” or “not having enough”, working with a therapist and/or energy healer while you’re working with a professional organizer may be what you need.
- Do you have a business? Keep your inventory organized in a storage unit. Not all businesses need to spend thousands of dollars every month renting a warehouse. Depending on the stage of your business, the economics behind renting a smaller unit(s) may make the most sense for you.
A few extra tips for storage units: Once you know what size unit you’ll be renting, purchase shelving so that you can store and retrieve your bins easily, without having to take everything down to get what you want. I’m a big fan of the wire shelving from Uline. It’s a little more expensive, but they have the best selection of sizes and incredible customer service! Take photos of what you have in your storage unit, and keep these photos in a separate “storage unit” album on your phone. You may also want to create a digital note on your phone that lists what you have in your storage unit.
I’ve recently helped several clients who have made the decision that getting a storage unit is what’s best for them. Once they make this decision, I can see their energy lift! Their eyes glow, they smile, and they have more of a bounce in their step. It’s so great to see! Instead of deciding to continue to feel stifled and cramped, I can see their creativity expanding greatly. This inspiration will take them far! If you’re thinking about getting a storage unit, I’d love to help you plan out what goes to the storage unit versus what stays at home, and help you optimize how you use the space in your storage unit.
Do you have any storage unit tips? Please share in the comments!
By Jean Prominski, Certified Professional Organizer
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Image Credit: Joshua Coleman