Things have evolved pretty quickly in a good way lately. Firstly, I freighted my car from Adelaide and it’s now, finally, with me once again. You have no idea how helpful this is, because I’m sporting a hip injury at the moment that flares up with too much walking. But it also means I can transport stuff to and from the storage unit up the road without lugging it by hand. Furthermore, my November lease end is rapidly encroaching and causing me worry because there is still so much uncertainty. So, despite it feeling a tad early, I approached my realtor and asked if an extension on the lease was possible, and the short answer was yes. Hooray! It feels like this month I have managed to lighten my worry load significantly just with these two details. But it got me pondering the fate of my storage unit, which I had planned to get rid of this year once and for all, forever, once I moved and no longer needed the boxes it held temporarily. Whatever to do?
Firstly, I had recently been feeling like my spare room was too cluttered and that I needed to move into my living room the desk that was holding a lot of space within the spare room. I was tired of using my dining table for both work and eating, and being a tiny square table for two, it always cluttered. So one day I just did a big swapsy. I now have a desk by my window and my dining table closer to my kitchen. I moved the bed in the spare room to a different wall which quickly gave me SO much more space, and I was able to move the annoying armchair (which came with the furnished apartment) into the spare room and out of the way. Suddenly, everything has become so much more open.
Next, I went to the local Officeworks and picked up some desktop drawers, and created a couple of work stations in the living area. I don’t like having paper in the living area, but it is easy access when I need it. One work station is for daily paper handling. Items to file, action, whatever. I added a couple of magazine holders and have organised my study and diary and projects ready for easy grabbing. The downside is that now the paper is away, rather than laying on desks for action, I haven’t gotten to them lately. So I have to work on that. The second work station is for my business I’m slowly putting together. I divided everything up so I could see what I have, and it lives next to my now clear desk. Incredibly, this little move out of an overfull archive box in the spare room has made me more motivated and I have actually started working on the business properly, for the first time. It would be fair to say that I’ve finally got everything the way it should be, and now it’s just a matter of continuing projects as I am inclined to work on them, and trying to add in additional effort for minor tasks each evening.
So what about the storage unit? I started thinking about the space I have now, and about my goals for emptying the unit. I priced up renting a storage cage here in my apartment building. It was almost the same cost as the formal storage, but with added road grime from being in the carpark. I’ve also been feeling like storage is a cost I’d really like to eliminate. This got me thinking, maybe since a lot of my contents in storage were boxes for the upcoming move, that if I cleared the spare room bed from it’s current paper sorting purpose, perhaps I could layer the flattened boxes there. And maybe the last storage could finally come into the flat now I’ve decluttered so much.
The first action I took was to drive (yay car!) down to the unit and pull out a few things still in there. These were items I identified to live on the top shelves of my three cupboards in the house. Christmas and Halloween stuff, for example. Some childhood dolls. I also gathered a few small things like a mini heater and fan that I use in my bedroom and fit them in a gap in my bedroom closet. I was astounded that I pulled a number of items from storage and was able to let cupboard space swallow them up and they were not even in the way at all. Still other things I have put in my car trunk to live there, actual car items, which has created space in the unit and on my shelves.
At some point, I realised, if I can bring in the actual things remaining in the unit, then I would only be paying for boxes to be stored in the unit. I looked up the value of boxes. Jeez. Nothing. There is absolutely no reason to pay for storage anymore, beyond a month or two to give myself time to clear it out. And wow yes, in that moment I realised I would be achieving a long held dream of never having storage again. Yikes. Amazing. Finally.
Down to zero
The forward plan involved a few more visits to storage to bring things in and absorb them into the apartment. There are some other things to give away or bring into the house and declutter.
I hoped to sell some branded boxes back to the storage complex, but due to Covid they couldn’t do it for a while, and I wouldn’t make much money on them anyway. I also decided that having a pile of boxes on a bed in my spare room would be a fire hazard and not a great idea. I toyed with keeping versus recycling them. After all, I’d need them again in a few months, but I’d decluttered a lot so it was unlikely I’d need them all. Literally struggled with this decision. So I asked in a Facebook decluttering group their opinion. One woman suggested to join a Facebook group covering my local community, and watch for people who needed moving boxes, and that in time, someone could return the favour for me. Exactly one week later, in my local community group I had newly joined, someone indeed asked for moving boxes. I quickly responded and cleared 23 boxes and some bubble wrap from my storage. It felt A-MAY-ZING.
I brought home a few small boxes to recycle. Then the last items. Some empty suitcases to donate, some boxes for things I might sell on. I advertised and sold some shade cloths on very tall wooden planks through Gumtree, the very last items to clear. And then, it was empty. I headed to their office and signed the termination notice. Wow. Later that night I called my mum to tell her the good news and burst into tears.
It will literally be a closed chapter, the end of an era, a 16 year long era. I calculated this year, how much I’ve spent on storage – on convenience – in that time. Yeah, it could have been a house deposit. But, instead, it has been one gigantic learning lesson, and one dramatic change in lifestyle. The drive behind keeping storage, to let it all go, led me to minimalism. I’ve spent 13 years decluttering and 9 years learning to be minimalist and intentional. Now I am 41 years old and all of my worldly goods fit comfortably, not cluttered, in a 2 bedroom city apartment. That to me, is highly commendable, because it means I have conquered this clutter epidemic many people still feel challenged by. I am super proud of myself.
Where to Next?
Ultimately, where I’m at is a place of having a few things to keep decluttering steadily, like school work, magazines, data, files and emails. In the meantime though, they are pretty well organised and not feeling overly cluttered. I have very good systems in place to keep me motivated and in action.
What I’ve also come to see a bit more clearly, is this feeling of unpacked things I don’t need or feel attached to anymore, but are currently in some home within my house. I’ve identified these for a second, or different round of decluttering. Some old toys. Things I’ve already dedicated to donating but aren’t officially in the donation pile. Files that are in makeshift folders that need a second consideration once the first sorting is finished. Now I have my car, I am finally able to start a donation box that can live in the car and, as lockdown slowly winds down, I will be able to make regular donation drops, which will aid in keeping my place clear.
It all just feels so good. Let’s see how things play out from here.