A Needle in the Haystack of Your Storage Unit

You need it, and you need it now. And it’s in your storage unit… somewhere.

I’ve been there: desperate for that one thing that I know is in my storage unit, in one of the many boxes (plus those duffel bags I decided to use when I ran out of boxes), safe and sound. I remember putting it there and thinking, “Yes, if I ever need this, I’ll know exactly where to find it.”

That one thing is somewhere inside a box, or bag, or a box inside a bag. So what’s the best way to find a needle in the haystack that is your storage unit?

First, relax. Be glad you’ve got the unit for all those things you don’t need every day. Don’t be hard on yourself; it will only make you feel worse. If you put it in storage, it’s still there, and there are some relatively painless steps you can take to find it.

  1. Go to the storage unit as early as possible. If you can go early in the morning, grab some coffee and go. If the search can’t wait, don’t dilly dally. Bring water, a snack, a flashlight if necessary, and get to it. You are likely already in a bind, time-wise, so there’s no need to add more pressure by procrastinating.
  2. Bring a friend. Just don’t bring that friend—the one who asks, “Where did you last see it?” or “Why do have a storage unit, anyway?” You need a solid, nonjudgmental friend, preferably one who can lift heavy boxes.
  3. Bring a bag for trash and a box for donations. While you’re sorting through what’s in your unit, why not cull out a few things that you are not going to use? That way, if you catch yourself asking, “Why do I even have this [jacket, CD, book, painting]?” you can make a decision, right then and there, to donate it or throw it away.
  4. Begin the search with a quick check for items similar to what you are looking for. Take a few boxes out of the unit and take a quick look into them. Chances are, they are at least roughly organized by where they came from—kitchen stuff, things that were in the back of your closet waiting for winter, etc. If you’re looking for your lucky fishing reel, it probably won’t be in a box with your underwear. But it could be in the last box you packed—the one with things that really didn’t fit anywhere else—or the box of things your dad gave you.
  5. Move the boxes without your coveted item aside. There’s no need to look through a box more than once. If the fishing reel isn’t there, move the box aside.
  6. Avoid distractions. This isn’t the time to choose which CDs you might want to hear on the way home, so if the fishing reel isn’t in the box with all your CDs, move along.
  7. Take breaks. If the first 10 boxes are a bust, take a break. Just sit down and take a breather. It may feel like you are spinning your wheels, but in fact you have substantially narrowed your search, and you’re almost there.
  8. Keep your eyes on the prize. Once you start moving your boxes out of the staging area, you are getting closer. Eventually you will find that fishing reel, or whatever else you came to find.
  9. And… jackpot! You found it. Now put it somewhere away from the fray. Pack your things back into storage and celebrate.

After you’ve repacked the unit, dropped off some donations, and thanked your pal, it’s time to celebrate. You’ve got some fishing to do.

Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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