If you are like me then the attic is a place for long-term storage. Holiday decorations, old mementos and even unused shoes can find their way up there. This area of the home is where things are often stored, never to be seen again.
For those people who are preparing to move, the attic can create quite the quandary. Since the attic is a space where you have “plenty of room” people often avoid making tough decisions about what to keep versus store and plenty of things just get shoved up there; out of sight, out of mind.
So what is the best way to attack this problem?
I have developed a 6-Step Guide to organizing your attic to help conquer the clutter and make the moving process simplified by actually moving to your new space only the things worth keeping. By properly un-cluttering the attic you are setting yourself up for success in your new space.
6 Steps to Attic Organization
1. Get a helper – Most attic spaces are not built for human convenience. Because of space limitations moving items is often a two person job so the first step is to enlist the help from someone like a family member or friend. You need to be mindful when working in attic spaces because of the smaller access points, unfinished nature of most spaces, irregular flooring and general need for a ladder. Make sure to be careful up there!
2. Have a space for junk – Ideally you are going to be getting rid of a lot of stuff. That means you need a temporary place for items to go. Depending on the amount of stuff in your attic you might need to rent a small dumpster. Or it could just involve using large garbage bags and space in your garage before loading up your car to haul items to a dump or charity for donation. By being prepared for the items you will get rid of, it makes it easier to actually get things out of the house!
3. Start the de-clutter process – Clutter just isn’t trash and cheap junk that fills up space. One of the toughest things for people to do is getting rid of things that they think have value, whether that is emotional or monetary. Are you holding onto items out of scarcity, guilt or a false sense of security? Be ruthless with yourself. The general rule is if you don’t love or use it, its clutter.
4. Categorize and sort – After you have gotten rid of the excess “stuff” you should be left with a manageable pile of important items that are worth saving and storing. Of course important things should be placed in the proper spot and stored correctly not only to keep them safe but also to help you remember what items you have and where they are. Common sorting piles would be things like holiday decorations, out of season clothing, heirlooms, or out of season sporting supplies. Some things might even belong elsewhere in the house!
5. Create storage solutions – Now that you have items sorted they should be stored in an appropriate manner. Plastic bins, tubs, banker boxes and other sturdy storage options are recommended. Ideally you should use storage solutions that not only fit the items you are storing, but stack easily together and fit within the space they will go. When you are cleaning out an attic, especially before a move, this is a great time to re-store items in appropriate containers, which are then packed and ready for moving from one space to another.
6. Label and inventory items – One aspect of long-term storage that should always be considered is proper labeling of items. We can easily forget what we put in different boxes or storage tubs. Think of your storage space in terms of time; searching through boxes for things is a time waster. The key to solving this problem is creating a detailed list of what is in each box and then labeling the outside of the box clearly. A written list can be placed inside the box or tub so you can determine the contents at a glance. On the outside of the container you can place masking tape in a visible location and then write a quick description such as, “Christmas Decorations – Tree,” or “Grandma’s China.”
A space like the attic might seem overwhelming to deal with, but by following this 6-step program you can go from “cluttered” to “organized” fairly quickly. Remember, when you de-clutter and organize your spaces prior to a move you are saving yourself time and energy during both the move and unpacking phases because you have less “stuff” to deal with.