How to Save Space in Your Self-Storage by Letting Go of Sentimental Items

You’re about to move into your self-storage unit, and you’re checking your list of items. As you make your way through your list, you start wondering if you actually have the space for all this stuff. It’s been a while since your last move or since your last purge of the items you’ve collected in the meantime, and you now realize that the best way for you to make this move a success is not have to move as many items.

Of course, keeping the items at home also won’t work, so some difficult decisions are upon you. How are you going to be able to save space when so many items are things you really feel attached to? You “love” these things – you can’t get rid of them!

The special plate your grandmother gave you in the 90’s means too much to you. The collection of hockey cards from your childhood may actually be worth real money. Those boxes of inherited items were given to you for a reason: you can’t toss them! That t-shirt you purchased while travelling Southeast Asia is a snapshot of that incredible journey you took: how could you get rid of it?

On first approach, purging yourself of unnecessary items may sound like an easy task, but once you start to go through those items, it becomes a lot more difficult to let go of things. We at Real Storage understand this perfectly well, and know how significant it can be for your organization and use of space to actually get beyond such attachments. This is why we’ve created a step-by-step guide on how best to let go of sentimental items when your need for space is greater.

Start with the easy stuff

There’s no point to start such a process by trying to toss everything all at once – you won’t succeed! Rather, start with the easy stuff first; the stuff you aren’t attached to.

Make your way through your house, slowly selecting the items you actually don’t need: random kitchen appliances that you haven’t used in years; knickknacks and trinkets that decorate surfaces excessively; old gadgets and tools that have been collecting dust; that corner in the basement that serves as some sort of void you hope things will disappear into. All these sorts of items are obvious candidates to be purged, and the majority of them will not have the sentimental attachment you will have for other items.

Getting rid of the easy stuff first will make you feel a sense of accomplishment upon execution, while also setting up your state of mind to continue to purge, and feel comfortable doing so.

What is it about your sentimental attachment?

With the easy stuff purged, and your mind now set and ready to continue the task, the best thing for you to do next is ask yourself about your sentimental attachments: why am I attached to this? What is the motivation behind my attachment?

The key here is to start recognizing that attachments are usually based on what you want, rather than what you need; and your storage project is about living with less than it is about living with more. Again, this will help prepare your mind for making decisions your emotions are not inclined to make: your emotions will align with your rationality, but you do need to convince them.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help push your state of mind to the place it will understand why it needs to get rid of certain items, even if you have sentimental attachments to them:

  • Does this item actually bring me some form of enjoyment on any sort of regular basis, or is it only when I’m going through my items that I suddenly remember how important it is?
  • Will the person who gave me this actually be offended if I ‘pay it forward’ to someone else (through donating it)?
  • Will this item bring me more enjoyment if I put it into regular use? What regular use can I have for this item?
  • What memories are attached to this item? Will I actually forget those memories if I know longer have this item as a reference?
  • Is this item in the way of my life? Is the space it’s taking up worth the enjoyment the item brings me? How much enjoyment does it bring me?
  • What, exactly, is it that makes me want to keep this?

Find out what is worth keeping

Now take things from the opposite angle: what is worth keeping, and why?

Spend some time to make another list, this one listing the things that make you feel fortunate for having them. Items you use during your regular routines are obvious items, but so are your family, friends, co-workers, and even your pets – these are ‘things’ in your life that truly make you feel grateful. They are properly indispensable because of that.

When faced with an item you are now considering to purge yourself of, compare it to this list of necessary items: the difference between the things on the list and the item in question will reveal how significant the item really is in comparison to the items on your list. If it stands up to the reasoning behind the items on the list, then by all means keep it! But if it doesn’t stand up to this test, you should then know it is actually dispensable: purge away!

And purge

At this point, you should be in a great state of mind to start making the tough decisions on your sentimental items. But don’t get overly confident yet – go slowly. The process is still one that will test you and prove difficult, so trying to rush through it will only undo what was accomplished above.

Go into this with a calm approach, but without any decision already made: you certainly don’t have to get rid of every sentimental item you own! The exercise here is to get rid of the excess items that you really aren’t attached to as much as you think, while keeping the items that really do mean that special something. Keep 5; get rid of 15.

A few last-minute ways to purge

Have a family member or friend who has the space keep an item you both share an attachment to, rather than having it clutter your tight space.

Instead of keeping a full set of china dishes in its box, decide to take one out, display it, and then get rid of the rest. There’s more value to be had from one on display than there is from a full set hidden in a box.

Chose to take a photo of the item, keeping it, rather than the item itself, while still not losing the memory associated with it.

Rather than enjoying the item yourself, enjoy the happiness it will bring to someone else who you donate it to.

Many of the items you are able to purge yourself of will be more quickly forgotten than you expect. This is a good thing, and it suggests you weren’t as attached to the item as you might have thought. Once you get rid of things and simplify your living space, you’ll be grateful for the more comfortable living conditions, and your self-storage project will run much smoother and be far easier to accomplish.

If you have any concerns about your self-storage space or how best to utilize it, take a look at our article here, or speak with your Real Storage agent today.