I borrowed these garage storage ideas from a friend who borrowed them from another friend.
We've all added our own touches to it over the years, and you'll need to adapt it to your needs as well.
This method can work whether you have an attic, a loft in the garage, boxes stacked against the walls of the basement, or a rental storage unit.
You can even track boxes stored in various closets this way.
You'll need sturdy boxes or plastic bins, a permanent marker, and paper to make a storage map and list. Here's how it works.
Start by dividing your stuff into large categories, such as dishes, holiday, kids' clothes, paperwork, etc.
1. Put the items into boxes, with each category in its own box or boxes. For example, you might have three dish boxes, four holiday boxes, five kids' clothes boxes, and two paperwork boxes.
2. Label each box by category, such as Dishes, Holidays, Kids' Clothes, etc. on five sides in large letters with a permanent marker. (That's every side except the bottom!) Then assign each box in each category a number. For example, Dishes 1, Dishes 2, Holiday 1, and Holiday 2.
3. Divide your storage space into as many parts as you have categories. (You don't have to actually divide them, just mentally imagine your attic or garage divided into four parts, for example.)
4. Assign one area of your storage space for each category. For example, holiday decorations go in the southeast corner of the basement.
5. On your paper, sketch your storage area, divide it up into the category areas, and label them.
6. On the same page or another page, list each box (Dishes 1, Holiday 1) and its contents (Christmas tree lights, Christmas wreath, etc.). If you add more boxes to a category, you can just add another number (Holiday 5, Holiday 6).
Take note on your list of how many boxes you have in each category. That way, when you retrieve things, you'll know if you have them all.
After Christmas last year, we found one box of decorations we never even realized we'd missed. (We wondered where the Santa hats were.)
Now, when you want to find a special Christmas decoration, all you have to do is consult your list (it's in Holiday 4) and your map. (Holiday is near the southeast corner of the basement.) And so can your family!