Saving Time in the Long Run: Keeping a Storage Inventory

Jon Fesmire | December 7, 2020 @ 12:00 AM

There are so many great reasons to rent a self storage unit. You can use the cheap space for business inventory, for off-season items, for camping equipment, and so on. However, you use it, if you need a particular item, you’ll want to find it quickly. That sure beats digging through boxes just to find a few things you recently sold on eBay or that specific pair of pants.


Not only can an inventory of your storage unit help you find things quickly, but it can also save you money. Everyone can remember not being able to find something at home like a can opener, a roll of scotch tape, or even something more expensive, and buying a replacement. Then, you find the original item later and wish you hadn’t wasted your money.


At Storelocal, we strive to make your life easier by providing you with a great storage unit. Creating a storage inventory is extra work upfront, but will also make your life easier in the long run.


Write As You Pack


Ideally, you’ll do this while first packing your boxes. However, if you already have stuff in your storage unit, you can go there, open each box, take down the inventory, and put the boxes back. If you have to do the latter, think of it as an adventure. Maybe you’ll find some items you need that you forgot you stored.


You’ll need a notebook, either 8½ by 11, or a legal pad, and a pen or pencil. You’ll also need a sharpie to label each box.


We suggest labeling each box by the room it goes in. However, if you’ve stored your off-season wardrobe, you may want to label the box by whose clothes are inside. Or, if you’re storing business inventory, you can label each box by item type.


When you’re ready to start packing a box, write down the box label at the top of a page. Each time you put in an item, jot down what it is on a line. All you’ll really need to include in most cases is the name of the item, but if you want to add additional columns with more information, you can. For example, for business inventory, you may want to include the price, the date you bought the item, and the date it sells.


Use as many pages as you need per box (though in most cases one will be sufficient), and start a new page when you start a new box.


Arriving At Storage


When you take your boxes to the storage unit, keep that notepad with you. Then, as you put boxes in place, write down next to the box name where it is. You can draw a little map if you like, or use a description that works for you.


With all that done, you have a comprehensive list of everything in your storage unit.


Time to Digitize


A written inventory list would be perfect - if you’re living in the 80s. However, we’re living in a digital age. No longer do we have to visually scan printed pages to find a bit of information. Instead, we can type up that information, put it in the cloud, access it from anywhere, and look up information instantaneously.


Yes, this is going to be more work upfront, but if you type somewhat decently, this will be easy and will save you a good chunk of time later.


Use a spreadsheet program that you can access from any device. While Microsoft Excel is the gold standard for spreadsheets, Google Sheets, part of Google Drive, is free, robust, and easily meets the “access anywhere” requirement.


In the language of spreadsheets, each file is called a workbook, and each separate page is called a sheet. You can use one file, or workbook, for your unit, and one sheet per box. Easy, right? When you open a new sheet, use the box label to name it. Give each column a name at the top of it. “Item” is the only necessary column, but as mentioned, you may have one for the price, date bought, date sold, and wherever else you need.


There are numerous tutorials online to teach you how to use spreadsheets if this description isn’t sufficient. This is basic stuff though and you’ll learn it easily.


One Other Option


There is another option for getting the information from your notepad to the cloud, and that’s scanning the pages and uploading them to your Google Drive, Dropbox, or whatever service you use. However, you’ll find yourself loading each page and using your fingers to magnify it this way.


Instead, use the spreadsheet method and simply scan the map of your unit that you drew. That way, when you need to find something, you can search within the Google Sheets file and find it in a moment, then check the map to see where you put that box in your storage unit.


Another advantage of keeping an inventory this way is that you can share access with others. Is your wife, husband, or business partner going to the unit to get something for you? Without having packed a single box, they can search for the stuff you need and find them easily.


It’s common in life to have to put in extra work up front to save time later, and it’s almost always the right way to do things. That’s certainly the case when it comes to keeping an inventory of your storage unit. We hope you find this method useful. If you need other helpful tips, we have plenty in our blog.