Clear Out Your Storage – avoid the storage trap

I’ll own up. I never expected to have to pay for storage space. But once I downsized and after selling a business, I have business records that have to be retained. So now I am paying for space to keep boxes of paper. My plan is to work through and scan the records I need to keep to clear out my storage, but life has overtaken me at the moment. (Sounds like an excuse even to me!).

But I am not alone – the storage business is booming here in Australia, just as it is in America, as outlined in this Wall Street Journal article by Liam Pleven.

My industry experience bears out one of the observations made by Ryan Burke, analyst at Green Street Advisors, that storage is “sticky”. Once you have storage you stay longer than expected, and you tend to stay even if there is cheaper storage available. Canard Solutions have helped many clients sort out and clear out storage units. They have often been draining money for many years.

In our business of helping people deal with their excess “stuff”, I have come to understand better the reasons it is so hard for many to part with the accumulation of their lives – or of their parents’ lives.

Here are some thoughts that might help identify your hidden drivers.

  1. Decisions: Some of the decisions are hard. What should I throw away? What can I keep? And there can be a lot of them to make.
  2. Change: Dealing with all those items that represent the way you have lived can mean saying a final “yes” to change in your life.
  3. Outside your comfort zone: How do you manage the process? Do you really have to Ebay all these things? Who do you call?
  4. Responsibility: When you are dealing with someone else’s possessions there is an additional set of filters in your mind to deal with. What would Mum or Dad think? How do I say goodbye? What about the rest of the family? Are you destroying history?
  5. Possible regret: What if I get rid of it but I need it later?
  6. Time and effort: It’s difficult, it may be dirty, you can spend a lit of time and still have more to do….all really good excuses not to even start.

It can be easier to put it all on hold, which is where storage comes in. It may be paid storage, or it could be cupboards, garages, sheds, spare bedrooms, or the whole house!

Here are some useful tips if you want to tackle the “dealing with stuff” task yourself.

  1. Expect to feel a sense of liberation at the end. Visualise the end of the project and work to this vision.
  2. Understand although it’s tough, you will survive the experience. Plan to look after yourself through the process.
  3. Find things that motivate you and remind yourself about them when the going gets tough. For instance, calculate how much you will save on storage and make a plan for that money. Think about re-purposing or redecorating the room if you’re reclaiming space.
  4. Build a real deadline. You could book the painters for the redecoration, or notify the storage company of the date you’re moving out. We are often called in when the house is about to go on the market, or when the settlement date looms.
  5. And last but not least, think through the destinations for your things and sort them into categories as you go. Aim to handle each thing only once.

Categories I use are these:

  • Offerings to family or friends – these default to sell / donate / tip if no one wants them. Skip this category altogether if you want a speedy clearout.
  • Sell
  • Donate to charity
  • Take to the tip
  • Keep

Keep is last because it is the last thing you want to do when dealing with “stuff”.

But if it’s all too hard, too dirty, too much, or just takes too long, Canard Solutions can help. We clear out storage every day of the week – give us a call. Nothing’s a problem for us.