Use wooden pallets and other shelving to keep as much off the floor in your storage unit as possible. Do not use cardboard boxes that previously stored perishable (food) items. They may still have subtle food or drink residue, attracting insects or rodents. Instead, opt for plastic totes. Invest in a climate-controlled unit when you need to store humid-sensitive items, such as musical instruments or classic cars.
Identify the most-used items
Consider items you may want to reach for sooner or more often and put these in a more accessible place. These may include:
- Trip supplies (tents, sleeping bags, cookout utensils)
- Out of season clothing (spring/summer or fall/winter)
- Holiday items
- Children's toys (hold some back and switch them out – they'll be like new)
- Tools and hobby supplies
- Office documents or tools (extra printers/scanners)
Remember, stack from back to front, in order of need. Keep what you need to access most frequently in the front of your storage unit. Put heavier, larger boxes on the bottom. Consider a "brick wall" pattern when stacking same-size boxes. It may seem inefficient, but this will allow you to easily remove and replace boxes.
Choose standard size boxes for most items
Boxes of the same shape and size help make things easier to stack and access. If you choose varied sizes, small and medium, for example, make them uniform. Remember, heavier boxes filled with heavier items do not stack well on another box.
Label each box carefully
We can't overemphasize the necessity to label items in your storage unit. Whether you use 3"x5" cards or take photos of the what the box contains and tape them to the outside, be as detailed as possible. Consider adding a number to the outside of each box, which will help when you create a master list of what your storage unit holds.
Create a master list
Knowing exactly what you have and which box it is in is crucial to keeping your storage unit well organized. This may seem unnecessary, but as you add (or subtract) items and boxes, you will thank yourself for compiling this last and keeping it updated.
Create a map of your storage unit layout
Along with the master list, draw a map that details where the boxes/items are in your storage unit. Divide your storage unit into four or more sections and list the type of boxes (or box numbers if you're using them) in each section on your map. Keep this map with your master list.