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Dear Storage Seeker:

My partner and I have been together for 12 years, and we just cannot seem to get organized. We both work long hours, and do our best to keep up with everything, but the stuff just seems to pile high in our small apartment. Moving is simply not an option. What can we do?


Hi David,

Thanks for writing in! Fortunately, you’re not alone in your struggle!

Countless American’s are overwhelmed by clutter, with recent surveys showing that individuals and families alike are simply inundated by stuff. What’s worse is that study after study has found that an excess of belongings is bad for your physical and emotional health, leading to increased stress and anxiety levels.

One of the reasons people become overwhelmed by clearing out and cleaning up, is that they attempt to do everything all in one day – which can be absolutely debilitating! Instead of trying to take on every square foot of your apartment at once, we recommend starting small – targeting one area at a time for 15-30 minutes with the keep, donate, discard principle.

How to Determine What Items To Keep

If you have used an item within the last 3 months and can envision yourself using it again in the next 3, place the item aside for safe keeping. If the item is something that is particularly large or seasonal, such as sports equipment, camping gear, or holiday decor, consider renting a self-storage unit nearby so that you can maximize space within your home for belongings you use each and every day.

Next, Decide Which Items Are Best to Be Donated

If you do not have use for an item over the next several months, but know it could be beneficial to someone else, consider finding a nonprofit organization to donate to. Besides helping out members of your community, donating items of value may even qualify you for a tax deduction at the end of the year. Be sure to speak with a tax professional to see how your taxes may be impacted.

Get rid of the rest!

According to the British Psychological Society, stuff is everywhere, with, “Bags, books, clothes, cars, toys, jewellery, furniture, iPads. If we’re relatively affluent, we’ll consider a lot of it ours. More than mere tools, luxuries or junk, our possessions become extensions of the self. We use them to signal to ourselves, and others, who we want to be and where we want to belong. And long after we’re gone, they become our legacy. Some might even say our essence lives on in what once we made or owned.”

The problem is, you and your partner need to recognize that your value and worth is not based on the amount of stuff you own, but rather, how you treat and love the people around you. So, if you don’t have use for it and no one else will, give it a toss—and don’t look back!

Now that you’re done, keep up the momentum…

Once you’ve gotten your home into tip-top, spacious shape, it’s important to develop a cleaning schedule to prevent your home from becoming cluttered again. Besides keeping everything clean and tidy, pay close attention to areas that tend to be hubs for junk (for example, your main entrance), spending 5 minutes picking up within that area each day (putting shoes away, throwing out junk mail, etc…).

Best of all – cleaning and de-cluttering doesn’t have to be a bore. Listen to your favorite album, reminisce about the good old days and/or have your favorite movie playing in the background. A little wine and some good laughs make anything (even house work) fun and even romantic when you’re with the one you love!

By utilizing the keep, donate, discard principle; renting self-storage for some larger-ticket-items; and maintaining your space through regular cleaning and problem-area blitzes, your home will be organized in no time!

Wishing you and your partner a clutter-free, happy home!