The GO Mom, Lorraine Brock offers tips on organizing this Unseen Area
I’m in Texas and organizing your attic isn’t something one would do in the heat of July or August. If you don’t have a heat stroke working in your garage, you’re sure to have one in the temperatures that peek and hover around 140 degrees in your attic.
In other states where there’s not such extreme temperature and/or basements are available, storage becomes less of an issue. However, if you are in areas of the country where steamy summers go with extreme heat, you have to work with what you have. The attic is an area that, for many, allows for additional space for storing keepsakes, Christmas decorations and other rarely used items.
If you’ve lived in extreme heat most of your life, you probably already know how to use your attic. But for those who are new to the extreme heat or have never really ventured into that deep dark space, let me give you some organizing tips to utilize this coming fall.
As a Professional Organizer, I meet many clients who do not want to use their attics for storage space; their main concern is the heat. I’ve lived in Texas all my life and have successfully used my attic space without damage to my belongings, giving me less clutter in the spaces that I do use daily.
While there are items that don’t belong in the attic such as candles, leather, photos, slides, film footage, vinyl records, VCR tapes, camcorder tapes, music tapes or any similar type of media in the attic. Most items fair very well.
For items that you can put in the attic, let’s look at a system for keeping it organized, easy to find and that allows you to know what’s up there in a snap.
Use plastic bins if possible; this keeps insects and dust out. Purchase the sturdier bins with handles that lift up over the lid and snap on both sides. Inexpensive bins are thinner and more likely to warp in the heat, especially when the contents inside the container are pushing on the inside walls. If you don’t want to invest in bins, then you can obtain FREE cardboard boxes at any grocery store during their stocking times (usually at night). Just beware when getting boxes down years later that you don’t bring them into your home. Often there are silverfish or other insects inside. You might want to consider using the newer Jumbo Zip Lock storage bags to put items in before storing them in a box. This is less costly than purchasing plastic bins and would protect the contents when using a cardboard box.
When storing items in containers, consider writing on a notepad what items are being stored in each container. You can be as detailed or as generic as you’d like. For example, a box filled with miscellaneous items from childhood might be listed as “souvenirs,” “first baseball bat” and “slot cars,” or you might just say, “Bob’s Childhood Keepsakes.”
Next, give each box a number using colored index cards. For example, write the number (1) on two index cards. Then tape the index cards, one on the front and one on the side of the container using clear packing tape. If you use sticky labels, chances are they will fall off due to the extreme heat.
On your notepad write “Box 1” then the contents, again being as detailed or as generic as you’d like. Continue this process until you have all the items in your attic organized and listed on your notepad. It’s best when stacking the containers to stack in numerical order.
When completed, take this list and create a simple spreadsheet on your computer. Make a folder on your computer titled, “Master List.” Then create a subfolder titled, “Attic Storage.” You can create other subfolders under “Master List” for anything such as medication lists, emergency forms, camping supply list, etc.
Keep a hard copy of the list on a clipboard that hangs on a nail in your garage or attic. This will allow you to easily find what you need.
A few other things to remember when cleaning out your attic this fall:
If you have older kids not living with you, give them a time and date to retrieve their items to organize their own storage. Or, let them know you will be making a donation in their name this holiday season.
Keep empty computer and electronic equipment boxes with their Styrofoam and packaging for future use in your attic. These items sell better with the original packaging.
In cases where you have an “IT” guru in your home, thoroughly examine the box sizes and start packing them inside each other. You’ll be amazed by how many boxes will fit together.
Avoid saving every box an item comes in that you purchase during the year. I normally save the box for 30 days only (keeping it in the garage) — in case the product is defective. After that, the box goes to recycling.
For more great tips from the GO mom, visit her online at Get Organized!