As human beings, we have a few basic needs. We need food and water, for instance. We need shelter and companionship. And we need space.
Everything we do in our lives, including the most basic necessities, requires space. We need space to cook and eat, and we need space inside of our shelter for it to really be a shelter at all.
So it’s worrying to many of us that space seems to be at such a premium right now. The real estate market is peaking. More and more of us are moving back to urban centers, where space is limited. And, above all, we seem to be crowding ourselves out of our own space with stuff.
Your stuff is stealing your space
Yes, stuff is the thief of space. You already have space in your home or apartment, whether you can use it or not. The reason that many of us feel like we don’t have enough space is that the space we do have is filled up by our own stuff.
Statistics show that Americans are just about drowning in stuff. The typical home is stuffed full of more than 300,000 items. Even if you’re one of the many Americans living in rural and suburban areas, where house sizes have actually increased dramatically, there’s a good chance that you’re out of space. That’s the reality of life with too much space.
Despite all of this, we still have trouble not buying even more stuff.
So there are actually two ways of looking at our lack of space. On the one hand, we can say we don’t have enough space; on the other, we can say that our stuff is taking up too much room. As we’ll see, both of these things are problems, and the two issues are related.
Creating space by banishing your stuff
The math here seems simple enough, then: more stuff means less space. By that logic, less stuff should mean more space. So if we want more space, we should ditch some of our stuff — right?
To a point, yes. We can and should get rid of excess junk. And experts agree that we Americans certainly do have a lot of junk. There are lots of great methods out there for decluttering and downsizing. During your spring cleaning and other big cleaning efforts, you should try to ditch things you don’t use. And during your daily life, you can and should toss things that you notice aren’t doing you any good.
But organization matters, too. Stuff can take up a whole lot more or less room depending on how well you are organizing it. Consider how often you use certain types of items, and start working on creating more space by making smarter use of the space that you already have.
And here’s the really exciting part: you don’t have to limit your organizational efforts to the space that you already have. You could also gain more space by investing in off-site storage.
Investing in storage space
Storage is best and most flexible solution that we have in our space-creating arsenal. It combines the get-it-out-of-my-sight bonuses of downsizing with the smart space-creation tactics of organizing. With storage, you can put seasonal and seldom-used items in a spot where you can quickly access them if needed — while being able to ignore them when they’re not.
Storage isn’t just like getting “more space” in your house by adding an addition or moving a car out of your garage (that is, unless you’re one of the many Americans who already can’t fit their car in the garage). It’s a certain type of space that encourages a more organized and space-rich lifestyle. Storage is easy enough to access that it allows you to stash things such as skis, seasonal clothes, and other once-in-a-while or only-some-parts-of-the-year type items without feeling like you’ve banished them to Siberia. But it’s also off-site, which means it encourages you to think about how often you use items. It’s a kind of organizational tool, and it can create space at home in an organized and more permanent way than other types of solutions can.
Finding storage is easy. Just pop over to a search engine and ask for “storage units near me,” or look for local places in the paper and on streetside advertising. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, and then choose a secure and trustworthy place for your stuff.
Living with more
With smart use of downsizing strategies, organizational techniques, and off-site storage, you can liberate your living space from the armies of junk that you’ve invited in. So don’t live with more stuff — live with more space, and get more out of life.