Today I wanted to look at a very real issue that I’m sure most of us face several times a year, and that’s how to go about storing items out of the way, while still being able to know what you’ve got stored – so you can find exactly what you need, when you need it.
If you’re forever struggling to remember what you have in those out of reach storage areas in your home – then this is the post for you!
I recently reviewed the organising app “Sortly” on this blog, and had so many ideas of ways it could help out at home that I wanted to test it out in more detail on your behalf. As such, I’m really pleased to announce that Organise My House is collaborating with Sortly on a series of posts where I get to be the crash test dummy for the app – and you can see/read about the results! I hope you enjoy reading the ideas, and get inspired to try something new as a result (and if there’s something you would like me to test out then just let me know!).
Let me ask you a question – Have you ever had a time when you’ve found yourself looking for a specific item and ended up having to bring out every box in the loft / cellar / garage / shed / ** insert your storage area of choice ** to go through and find it – only to discover that it isn’t there after all….?
Frustrating to say the least.
I’ve been there too many times to mention, and started to realise that if I was going to all the trouble of storing things I wanted to keep for specific reasons, then it stands to reason that I should make sure it’s easy to know what’s actually where when I need to grab it.
Being able to know exactly what you’ve stored away has so many benefits: –
- Time savings – not having to endlessly search for something specific. Who wants to open every box in the loft to find something – you can guarantee that it will be in the last box you open as well (why is that?!)
- Stress savings – realising that you have lost something and the panic that ensues
- Money savings – if you know what you have, then you won’t have to buy it again
The Easy Way To Know What You Have In Storage
We record what we’ve stored all the time for things like paperwork…
We file things neatly and record what’s in each file – which makes it so simple to find what we need, when we need it.
So why can’t this be the same for other items that are stored away?
Anything that’s out of sight for too long can be forgotten all too easily. Not only what it is, but where it is as well.
So true is the saying “out of sight, out of mind”.
Of course, you don’t want your head cluttered up with trying to remember what you have where – but you DO need to think about having the tools to know what’s there when you need it.
Giving some thought to how best to do this properly really does make all the difference – so that’s why I thought that the Sortly app may be the perfect solution because it gives you the ability to create an inventory for what you want store, in a quick and easy way to manage.
It should ensure that everything that’s in “out of the way” storage has been recorded so you always have details to hand of what you have, and where it is, without having to form a search party each time you need it….
So, in my new “crash test dummy” role – I had to try it out for myself and see how well it works!
4 Easy Steps For Storing Items So You Can Find Them Easily
As always, I’ve created some easy to follow steps so you can try it for yourself more easily the next time you are storing items away.
So, let’s go through things in a little more detail so you can see just how easy it is to set up your out of the way storage so that it works FOR you rather than against…
Step #1 – Ask Yourself – Do You Really Need To Store It All?
Basically you want to make sure that you only store what you really REALLY need to – otherwise you’re making a mountain for yourself – literally.
It’s all too easy to just stuff things in the less used areas of your home, because you don’t have to see them every day, and after all – you tell yourself that they MAY come in useful again, someday.
However – chances are, they won’t! – they’ll just take up room that makes it harder to organise what you DO need, and makes you feel overwhelmed at the very thought of trying to find something in all that chaos.
My advice is to really give some thought as to what items should be stored at all.
Keeping things to a minimum will ensure that what you DO need to store will be that much easier to find.
For example – in your loft it makes sense to store items that you only use at a certain time of year, or that you need once in a while only such as Christmas decorations, seasonal clothes, sports equipment for seasonal sports etc…
These work well in the most out of the way spaces of your home because you will only have the hassle of getting to them once or twice a year.
I wanted to look at part of my garage that has been left for quite a few years due to the fact that we’ve had several different family members store their things in this space, so our stuff has been covered up and is one of the last things to properly sort through (a work in progress I like to think!).
So – laying it all bare for you today – this is what the space currently looks like: –
Seeing this makes me feel very overwhelmed. Honestly, at the moment I haven’t got a clue what’s in each of these boxes, and it feels like it’s going to be so time consuming to start sorting it all out.
If there’s something I think may be in one of the boxes, look at what I have to take down from each shelf to get to each box to find out where it is (if it’s there at all…). Ugh!
Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what’s there, in a quick and easy way….
This was the perfect place to start sorting through – so that in the future it would be easy to know exactly what’s what.
So, we started by doing a quick declutter and worked out what we actually needed to keep – and the area now felt a lot more manageable: –
Step #2 – Ensure The Items Are Grouped And In the Right Storage
When storing things in these more out of the way areas, you want to ensure that when you next come to use the items they will be ready to go, and stored together with other items that make sense.
For example – all your Christmas decorations in one (or many) box(es), out of season clothes in another box, memorabilia in another etc….
Take some time to group your items together, and make sure they are in the right storage for the space you are wanting to store them.
TIP – I tend to always use strong plastic crates as these are airtight and water resistant, I also use strong boxes in my garage for some things because it’s a water tight space and some items are less prone to damage.
In this example, I used one of the cardboard boxes on the shelf to store all of our decorating supplies – so I laid them all out first to see what I had, and then picked the right box that would store them all together: –
Step #3 – Record Details Of All The Items That Are Stored In Each Box
Of course – this post is all about being able to know what you’ve stored and where, so this is a key step in the process.
Ideally I wanted to have the ability to take a photo of all of the items that will be in the box, and also make notes about them if needed – and Sortly allows me to do both – perfect!
You just need to do the following: –
- CREATE A FOLDER IN THE APP
Give the folder a name that makes sense for the storage box (think of it like a file name). I created ‘Box 1 – Garage – Decorating’ – and I added a photo of the box to make it even more visual (and a reminder as to where it was in the garage).
2. ADD ITEMS TO THE FOLDER THAT YOU ARE PUTTING IN THE BOX
In just the same way as you created the folder, you simply add items within that folder in the app. You can take photos, add notes etc…. (I added in things like whether something was half full, what colour/type etc…. as I know this info will be useful if I am out shopping for a DIY project and want to know whether I need to buy extra supplies.
Using the tag feature on Sortly makes finding items on the app even easier. so as you can see in the picture below, I tagged each item with BOX 1, GARAGE and DECORATING, to help when I wanted to search at a later date.
TIP – You don’t have to take photos of every single individual item if you don’t want to – you could take a group picture which is useful if you are keeping lots of little items of the same type, and just want a rough idea that they are all there.
Step #4 – Label Each Box
So, you now have everything you need to keep in a box that is right for where you will store it, and you have added all the details of this box to the app.
The last step is to clearly label the box so you can find it easily when you need it.
There are 2 options here: –
- Simply write on the box the number/name you have chosen (what you called the folder in the app).
- Create a label in Sortly – a key feature of the app that gives you extra help…
Which you use is totally up to you, and really depends on how you want to find things in the future: –
If you’re looking for something specific, then you have the following choices: –
- Search for the item in Sortly, and then you’ll be able to know what box it is in and where it is by reading the tags.
- Search for a tag (either the storage area, or each box number) and see what’s there
- Go to the storage area and scan the Sortly label (a QR label), and Sortly will show you what’s in that box.
How clever is that!
TIP – However you label each box, ensure that it’s on every side of the box so you can always see the label no matter what side is facing you once boxes are stacked etc…
I created QR labels in the app itself (really easy to do – you just click on a few choices, give the labels a name, and then it will email you a pdf file that you simply print off). As I had no labels to hand (you can print onto labels which is a great idea!), I did the next best thing and printed onto normal paper and used tape to attach the labels to the boxes: –
…and, there you have it!
If you have a way of knowing exactly what storage boxes you have, where they are, and what’s in each one, you can find things so much more easily, and you’ll be so much more organised as a result.
Simple, but very effective.
Those days that you would be opening every box in every storage area before you know what’s there will be no more!
Just think how amazing you’ll feel once things are decluttered and what you have chosen to keep is stored so you know exactly what’s where.
I must say, I like the idea of sitting on my sofa and (for example) scrolling through the app before Christmas to know what boxes I need to get down from the loft because I can see exactly what’s in each one and what decorations I need…. Much nicer than scrambling around the loft, don’t you think!
One of my favourite sayings is “your future you will thank you for this…” – and that saying is definitely true for this task. Get it all sorted and you really will smile next time you have to find anything.