How to Clear Out Your Self Storage Unit

You might be thinking: How does the topic of How to Clear Out Your Self Storage Unit relate to productivity? Indulge me for a few moments as I explain….

A client of mine closed up his medical practice and moved a great deal of the items from his office to a self storage unit. He did part with quite a few items during the move-out process, but he couldn’t make up his mind about “a few items.” The result of his struggle with decision-making was renting an 8’x15’ self storage unit. This climate-controlled “for now” zone billed him $199 per month. His wife had not budgeted for spending nearly $2400 per year on storage for “I don’t know about this” stuff, so she was a little ticked about the prolonged indecision. There was a financial pinch. There was a marital strain. (Yeah, it’s minor in the grand scheme of things, but we all know how a whole bunch of minor things can add up to a major blow-out!) All of this weighed on him – and was affecting his concentration on his new consulting job.

That is how clearing out a self storage unit is directly connected to productivity.

So, how do you alleviate this pain point? Here’s an inside look at this situation….


“Right now, I’m taking baby steps of bringing home a couple small boxes every few days.
If we brought home a large item, I don’t know where it would go. The stuff is in the storage rental unit because we don’t have room here at home.

Listing all the steps: Maybe it would help me to take a survey of how many tubs are in the storage facilities unit, how many boxes, etc… It might be a big number, but then I’d know?

Here’s a wild guess: 40 Rubbermaid tubs & other large plastic totes
15 boxes of books
4 wardrobe-size cardboard boxes of ???
Furniture: metal desk, shelving unit, shelf thingy, partner’s desk
a bunch of big plastic drawers, like sets of 3-4 drawers
smaller plastic boxes – maybe like 15?

And personal items got crammed in, too:

toy kitchen and toy washer/dryer set
3 bags of hockey equipment
Where do I go from here?”

My advice to Client:

Great job on the list, T___! This can help you decide on the pace you’d like to take.

As for trying to keep overwhelm in check and finding motivation to press forward, I had a client who wanted to get rid of his storage rental unit. When he did the math, he realized that by the time he’d finish his one-year contract, his monthly payments will have added up to $3000. I had him do an estimated inventory list like you did. Then we estimated the value of the contents. It wasn’t much more than $3000. That means he could’ve bought all-new everything instead of paying storage fees. That really motivated him to get in there and part with things because he didn’t have much room to bring stuff back to his house. He wanted to pocket that $3000 for the next year and not spend it on storage rental.

When I was with him, we worked in the storage unit for four hours at a time. He’s a very sentimental guy and a collector, so he wanted to save everything. I set up 10 “keep boxes” related to the different parts of his life. The amount of 10 boxes was determined by how much space he had in his house. The categories developed as we found patterns in his stuff: photography, family memorabilia, career memorabilia, cook books, computer parts, cords, tech gadgets, office supplies…. As the boxes started filling, he’d have to do another layer of purging in order to make room for his favorites. That was easier for him to do once he could see all of his inventory at one time since all the cords were together, all the cookbooks were together, etc.

Our pace was roughly 10 minutes per box. He’d start out slower, then get faster as he got more annoyed that he’d kept so much. We were really plowing through. When he was by himself, his homework was to take two boxes home and take two days per box so he wouldn’t get overwhelmed – just like what you’re doing.

One of the questions you’ll want to think about is:

Do you want to create space in your house to bring everything home


create space in your house to bring 50% (decide on your percentage) home and part with 50%


are you ready to part with everything in storage?

To help you think about a timeline, based on your list, I estimated a total of 100 boxes, containers, pieces of furniture and individual drawers (I counted individual drawers as opposed to the whole drawer unit).

If you went through 2 per week, you’d be done in 12 months.

If you went through 3 per week, you’d be done in 8 months.

If you went through 4 per week, you’d be done in 6 months.

You can play around with these numbers plus factor in your upcoming medical procedure so that you can come up with a realistic goal that you’re comfortable with.

In a nutshell, this is how you can successfully clear out a self storage unit, which will lead to less stress and increased productivity!

About Helene Segura

As The Inefficiency Assassin™, Time Management Fixer Helene Segura empowers professionals on the go with the tools to slay lost time. Personal inefficiency at work leads to increased stress levels, lower morale, higher absenteeism, more turnover – and rising spending on employee health care and hiring. Why not improve productivity, decrease stress levels, and increase profits instead? The author of four books – two of which were Amazon best-sellers – Helene Segura has been the featured organization expert in more than 200 media interviews. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits. Helene turns time management on its head by sharing both client case studies and pop culture examples to teach her mind-bending framework for decreasing interruptions, distractions and procrastination so that companies can spend more time generating revenue.

Leave a Comment