How to Declutter Your Space

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Photo Credit: girard312 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: girard312 via Compfight cc

It was 1:30 in the morning. You were vulnerable, lying on the couch with a belly full of cheese curls, chocolate chip cookies and a keg of soda. And that’s when you saw the infomercial for a new, convenient exercise machine: the Ab Rocket. That’s the thing that will finally change your life.

It did change your life, but not by giving you six-pack abs. In the eight months that it’s been sitting in the corner of your room, it has attracted a mountain of clutter around it and it’s growing steadily. Before it takes over your entire home and eats you alive like a couch potato downing cheese curls and cookies, you’d better do something about this problem of yours.

But if the very idea of tackling this overwhelming mess scares you into paralysis, don’t worry. Start by reading this article on how to declutter your space with some great advice from decluttering experts:

  1. Out with the old… The first thing decluttering experts recommend is changing the way you see the stuff you have been holding on to. Feng Shui maven Karen Kingston, author of Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, says that holding on to old things that you no longer use prevents you from making space for new things in your life. Realize that letting go of old things also means less to clean, less to trip over, less to hide from your nosy mother-in-law, less to stash if the cops ever find out about your side business. Reducing your clutter energetically invites new opportunities into your life. And no, that doesn’t include more As Seen On TV items.
  2. Start with baby steps. Leading minimalist blogger Leo Babauta knows that facing the whole task—the landslides of papers, clothing, books, kitchen utensils and miscellaneous trinkets—can feel seriously overwhelming to the point of immobility. So he recommends taking a mere five minutes each day to start on one of his 18 quick decluttering tips. Set a timer and pick something on the list to start with, like clearing off one counter. To heck with the closet that’s bursting at the hinges, or the bathroom whose floor you can no longer see, or the garage that hasn’t housed a car since the ‘70s. Just focus on one, tiny little task for now.
  3. The Cardboard Box Test. Oprah’s decluttering guy, Peter Walsh, suggested this idea for the kitchen, but we can’t see why it wouldn’t work in the bathroom, bedroom or hall closet as well. First, grab a cardboard box. Now dump all your kitchen utensils into the box, like the can opener, blender, and toaster. The lasagna-encrusted spatula you can leave in the sink for now. Over the course of the next month, every time you use one of these utensils, put it back in its designated place. After the month is over, donate whatever you haven’t used…like the Potato Express, Slushy Magic, and Spinning Candy Dispenser. And stop watching TV at one in the morning.
  4. Establish Three “Outbox” boxes: Garbage, Recycle, Donate. The folks at Apartment Therapy recommend setting up this area in an out-of-the way place in your home. Once a box is full, take it to its designated location (the garbage bin, recycling station, or local Goodwill store). Putting the “Outbox” area in a remote spot helps you emotionally detach from the stuff in it. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” may be disheartening in a relationship context, but in this scenario it means there will be less temptation to hang on to stuff you don’t really need. Come to think of it, this phrase works well for all your exes, too. Especially the one who gave you the Potato Express for your birthday.
  5. So-called Paperless Society. While you’ve been waiting for the paperless society touted by techies for years, your countertops, dining room table, desk and floor have become clogged with the carcasses of dead trees. Unless you’re a bona fide novelist working on the sequel to War and Games, follow this four-step system suggested by HGTV:
    1. First, sort all of that stuff into categories like school, financial, medical, personal, receipts, etc. Then ask yourself, “Why am I keeping all this crap?” Do you really need it? The answer is probably yes to some stuff (like tax forms or that “prescription” for “medical” marijuana). But consider opting for online bill payments and cancelling your subscriptions to Injured Mimes Quarterly and DENSA & Proud of It!.
    2. Next, sort the stuff into two piles: keep or recycle/shred. Note: shredding all those love letters from your ex is very therapeutic–especially the ones he wrote to your best friend.
    3. Then classify the papers you’re keeping (bank statements, business receipts, restraining orders–you know, the usual), put them into file folders, and label them.
    4. Stay on top of it. As in remain diligent, not as in lie on. When new mail or papers invade your home, act immediately. Recycle the junk and establish an inbox on your home desk for bills to pay or correspondence to return.
  6. Use furniture that doubles as storage. There are so many cool pieces of furniture that double as storage containers, like benches and ottomans, or multi-use hanging shoe racks. Or consider a TV embedded into the mirror to keep your counter space free.
  7. Rent a nearby self-storage unit if necessary. This is especially helpful for seasonal items you really do use and want to keep—like Christmas decorations, portable but bulky air conditioners, kayaks, snowboards, camping gear, and your clown outfit (for Halloween, of course…).
  8. Troll Pinterest for more decluttering and organizational ideas. There are a gazillion creative ideas to store those items that you simply must keep, like drawer dividers, using a shower curtain rod to hang your spray bottles, and clever ways to put extra binder clips to work for you.

And one last thing—whatever you do, never go on a late-night infomercial shopping spree on a stomach full of soda and cheese curls again.

Sources:

http://www.spaceclearing.com/html/home

http://www.hgtv.com/organizing/four-steps-to-less-paper-clutter/index.html

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-declutter-your-home-129659

http://www.oprah.com/home/Conquering-Clutter

http://zenhabits.net/18-five-minute-decluttering-tips-to-start-conquering-your-mess/

http://www.pinterest.com/search/boards/?q=creative+decluttering+ideas&term_meta[]=creative|autocomplete|1&term_meta[]=decluttering|autocomplete|1&term_meta[]=ideas|autocomplete|1

 

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Deals To Look For When Choosing A Storage Unit

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Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

You’ve just read a great article on decluttering your home and have decided to put your entire warehouse-sized wardrobe you’ve kept since the ‘80s into storage. Those Laura Ashley dresses, Jordache jeans, tie-dyed t-shirts, parachute pants, and leg warmers are no longer outdated; they’re vintage and may be worth something someday. But until you make your fortune on this so-called retro clothing, you’ll need to look for a great deal on storage units to house your collection.

Consider some of these popular deals that may be available on an ongoing or periodic basis:

First Month Free – This is the most common storage unit special. Many storage rental facilities will offer the first month free–though they usually require you to stay for at least three months–to entice customers with the idea that if you’re impressed by the service you’ll keep renting. So just in case neon-colored spandex jumpsuits never become trendy again, you can rest assured that you’re getting a good deal on storage. Continue reading

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Seasonal Storing: When To Start Storing The Summer Gear and Preparing For Fall

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You yank down your surgical mask, pull on your industrial strength rubber nitrile gloves, say a quick Hail Mary, and reach into your kid’s backpack. You can actually hear the Jaws theme in your head. Inside the dumpster-scented bag you find the homework assignment from last spring he swore he completed and a lunch bag that now qualifies for a science experiment.

“There has to be a better way to store stuff at the end of a season,” you mutter. And you’re right. Why wait until October 30th to scurry around trying to find your Halloween decorations while at the same time trying to get the scuba equipment and banana hammocks out of the way? Of course, if your husband wears a banana hammock, you probably have much bigger issues to deal with….

Just because you were always the kid who began his 2,500-word essay the night before, doesn’t mean that you can’t get a head start on storing the summer gear and preparing for fall.

1. What’s coming out of storage for the winter?

That’s right, go to your storage unit and assess what goodies are coming out of hibernation before you try to cram all your summer gear into it. Believe us, we’ve seen people load up their storage units first and then try to remove the stuff they want second. Don’t be that guy. Organization and planning are your allies when it comes to seasonal storage.

2. Make a list of summer items in August.

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FAQ: How To Safely Store Your Valuables

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Photo Credit: ♔ Georgie R via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ♔ Georgie R via Compfight cc

Your great uncle Hubert just bequeathed a long-lost Picasso masterpiece to you. Sure, you’d love to hang it on the wall of your bachelor apartment–it goes so well with the IKEA sofabed, after all–but Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and private collectors from Shanghai have been calling you non-stop since the reading of the will. It was the text message from the Russian Mafia, however, that really got you worried. You know this painting isn’t the sort of thing you can just stash in the hall closet behind the snowboard, but hiding it in an ordinary self storage unit seems so inadequate. So how do you store your valuables safely?

What options do I have for storing my valuables?

It depends on what your valuables are. For example, some antiques and works of art not only require security, but stringent climate and contamination controls as well, or you may suddenly find yourself with a big pile of abstract art. So no, you shouldn’t throw them into your garage or even in a regular self storage unit. Not only are these locations subject to wide-ranging temperature and humidity fluctuations (not to mention rodents that treat your Ming Dynasty vase like their own private Porta-Potty), but if word got out that you put anything valuable in a standard storage facility, the Mafia would be there faster than you could say “Buongiorno.” This leaves you with four options:

  • A high-security, climate-controlled storage facility
  • A fire- and water-proof safe in climate-controlled location in your home
  • A safe-deposit box (for small items only)
  • Other sneaky hiding spots and containers that thieves would never suspect (and no, not your sock drawer)

So where should I store valuable art, photography, books, china, etc.?

An art vault or high-security, strictly climate-controlled storage facility is probably your best bet. The National Archives outlines some very specific guidelines for storing these kinds of items to prevent them from deteriorating:

  • 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit (or a bit cooler)
  • Humidity should hover between 35-50%
  • Acid- and lignin-free paper enclosures, book covers, polyester film encasement or a Solander or other kind of archival box
  • Glass, china and breakables should be wrapped carefully in paper, cushioned with bubble wrap, and stored in boxes

Rather than setting these items directly on the floor, lay them on top of pallets to enable air circulation and prevent moisture from getting trapped.

If you’d prefer to store your original Shakespeare manuscripts at home because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to hear you read aloud at your so-called parties, then at least avoid stashing them in the basement. Not only do basements tend to be damp, but one hard rainstorm or an overtaxed plumbing system and you can flush your valuables down the toilet. Opt for an upstairs room with a water- and fireproof safe that stays at the same cool temperature all year long.

Where should I store important documents that I might need in case of a zombie apocalypse?

Documents are probably the last thing you’re going to be worried about when the undead are screaming “Braaaaaaaains!!!!” at your front door. But since you asked, Ray Martin of CBS MoneyWatch recommends that you not store important documents that you need fast access to in a bank safe deposit box. These boxes are not insured by the FDIC, can be vulnerable to “inside jobs,” might be subject to government confiscation, and you can only get to them during banking hours. (And everyone knows that zombie apocalypses never happen during banking hours.) Martin recommends getting a water- and fireproof safe to keep things like passports, deeds, insurance policies, titles, legal documents, birth certificates, hard drives with family photos, emergency cash, valuable jewelry, etc. safe and handy in an emergency.

What kind of safe should I get for my stuff?

You have several options, and again, it depends on what you want to store and where you think you can viably hide the safe. Home Depot has a collection of safe options, some of which can be bolted to the floor or installed in a wall. Others look like everyday objects, such as dictionaries, wall lights or—and we’re not even making this up—an incredibly realistic-looking head of lettuce.

But where should I store my safe? Isn’t that burglar bait?

It can be. But according to the folks at Apartment Therapy, thieves only spend an average of 8-12 minutes ransacking your pad. Ah, so many houses to burgle, so little time…. So if you can hide the safe or receptacle containing your valuables in an unlikely spot, you can force them to waste enough time searching that they’ll leave empty-handed. The master bedroom, living room and home office are going to be the first places they look, so cross those off the list as suitable hiding spots. Hallways, the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry rooms are better. Fake air vents, safes hidden behind bathroom mirrors, and even stashing cash and small items in used food tins or dental floss boxes are just a few of the clever ideas you’ll find on Pinterest.

Let’s face it. Your great grandmother’s black pearl necklace deserves a little more security than a shoebox under the bed, and your photos are worthy of more than an envelope in an unlocked drawer (except maybe your awkward Sears Family Portraits–those you can “accidentally” leave out). And let’s just hope the Russian Mafia never finds out where you stashed the Picasso….

Sources:

http://lifehacker.com/5960300/the-best-places-to-hide-valuables-in-your-house

http://www.bluevaultsecure.com/safest-place-for-valuables-vault-storage.php

http://www.selfstorage.com/tips/5-tips-for-storing-antiques-and-collectibles/

http://www.thesafesupermarket.com/faqs/a-guide-to-storing-valuables

http://www.bimbambanana.com/index.php?p=iceberg&side=visProd&prod_id=328

http://www.amazon.com/Archival-Methods-Museum-Buckram-Lining/dp/B0030NXO0C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407032038&sr=8-1&keywords=Solander+box

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/8-secret-spots-to-hide-valuables-at-home-190982

http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=creative%20hide%20valuables

http://www.homedepot.com/b/Tools-Hardware-Safety-Security-Safes/N-5yc1vZc2b1

http://www.archives.gov/preservation/family-archives/storing-photos.html

http://www.customsurvivalsolutions.com/rules-for-storing-valuables-in-safe-deposit-boxes-with-banks/

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444025204577544822463145302

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/12-things-to-keep-in-a-safe-at-home-not-at-a-bank/

 

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How Do I Store My Vehicle?

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You finally booked that year-long world tour as a dishwasher on a cargo ship, but as you toss mosquito netting and a voltage converter into your backpack, you suddenly realize, “What am I gonna do with my sweet ride for that whole year?!” No way are your parents going to let you park it in their garage after that science experiment mishap in high school. And as much as you love your best friend, she got her license revoked for a reason. So now what do you do?

Your wheels need to go into self storage, and storing it properly will save you possibly thousands of dollars in repairs when you finally get back to civilization. Here are some common questions about how to store your vehicle:

Where can I store my rad ‘77 Pinto while I’m away for several months or a year?

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The Psychology Behind Clutter

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That Barbie collection from childhood that you can’t seem to part with, a mile-high stack of old magazines, and the acid-washed jeans that haven’t fit you for two decades all contribute to an ongoing problem: clutter. Whether you hide it in the garage or it has slowly taken over your home like The Blob, clutter can be a big problem.

The best way to solve this problem is to understand the psychology behind clutter in the first place.

Common Reasons for Clutter

The basic reasons behind chronic messiness include:

  •      Lack of storage space
  •      Too many collections
  •      Cramped living situation
  •      Inability to say no
  •      Poor organizational skills
  •      Lack of time
  •      Depression-era mentality (never mind that you weren’t even alive in the ‘30s)

Continue reading

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FAQ: How To Choose the Right Size Storage Unit

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Ferrari

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People need self storage units for many reasons. You may need to store things while you transition to a new home or city, you may need a place to stash bulky seasonal items, or you may need the space to archive office documents. Regardless of the reason, it is important to rent the right-sized unit for your possessions. Too small and you won’t be able to fit everything; too big and you’ll be paying for extra space you don’t need.

Here are some important questions to consider when choosing the right-sized storage unit: Continue reading

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College Relocation Checklist! Infographic!

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In August of ::cough::cough::, I packed up my mom’s minivan and off I went to Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri (Go Bulldogs!). I had no idea what I was doing. And, really, how could I have had a clue? I am the oldest child in my family, and I was a freshman. It was all new to me. Remembering what it was like for us back in the ::cough::cough::’s, we decided that we would do some research and create a guide to going off to school that you can really use.

Here’s a sample…

section of infographic

 

Click below to see the whole thing!  Continue reading

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FAQ: What can NOT be stored?

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dead body with toe tag: can't store it

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It may surprise you to know all the unusual things that potential storage facility renters attempt to load into their unit. Or it won’t surprise you. What do I know? Regardless, just because you turn out the light, close the door, and place a lock on it doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want in it. There are still rules in place to protect you, the owner, and the other renters. Continue reading

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Cirque du Storage Unit

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circus tent trailer

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What’s not to love about the circus? From the colorful tents and adventurous performers to the exotic animals and the smell of popcorn and cotton candy, just the thought of attending the event brings a smile to your face. But what happens when the lights dim, the applause stops and the animals go back in their cages? Well, the skilled entertainers pack up all their props and costumes and return to their regular lives, leaving their secret identities locked up in a self-storage facility. Ah, to be a fly on the wall in those storage units…. Continue reading

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