Inventory – keep track of your stuff in storage

A question that I get asked all the time at home is “Mum, have you seen…?” or “Where did you put…..” It drives me up the wall. Even though I have said more than numerous times to my husband and child to put things away when you have finished with them, it always comes back to me when the item goes missing.

That is why when it comes to people relocating items into storage – particularly long term – one piece of vital advise I give is if you are packing away items in a box, make a list of what is in the box and keep it handy. This goes the same for any item that is going into storage. Making an inventory list of all of your items – big and small – going into storage is an easy task to complete and may save you going around the twist finding something you know you have but don’t know where it is.

What’s the point?

Organisation is one of the main reasons people make an inventory of their items in storage. By knowing where everything is it will eliminate the need to spend hours looking for an item and more importantly it may even save you money so that you do not have to replace an item you think is lost.

Label boxes clearly and make sure they are visible

The labels on your boxes are just as important as the inventory list created.

By making a list of your items as they are being prepared for storage means you can go through your stuff. For each item you are inventorying you should be thinking these 3 things: Throw it, Give it or Sell it and Pack it. Instead of picking up piles of things and popping them into a box, an inventory list makes you go through things item by item, giving you the opportunity to be as ruthless as possible.

More importantly, an inventory list of your stored items can protect you if there is ever any unforeseen circumstances such as fire, flood, break-ins and theft. If you ever needed to make an insurance claim against your items in storage an inventory of your items will be a blessing.  You will be able to make a claim for insurance quickly and accurately and it will also speed up the process for the insurance company.

How do you do an inventory?

An inventory list does not need to be fancy and it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as it is legible and understandable. At the end of the day, it will be usually you that will need to refer to it. It can be a handwritten list on a piece of paper, an excel spreadsheet or a digital photo gallery. Depending on how thorough and how much time you wish to spend on this you can either create a simple or detailed inventory list. A simplistic inventory should include a list of all the items and their general location.

It is always a good idea to have a little detail than pages of lists. Break the items into categories or by room and be as specific as you can. Don’t just write “bathroom stuff” on a box, write which bathroom it is from – master, family, guest – and the items. This will be a big help when you do move out of storage and it will assist you when you are unpacking.

For items going into boxes or containers adopt a colour coded system or a numbered system to sort your stored inventory. For example: Use green labels or #1 for items from the kitchen, red labels or #2 for items from the laundry etc. Make sure that either the coloured label or number on the box are visible when you stack your storage unit to make retrieval of your items a lot easier. If using the colour coded system, you may still need to number the boxes so each box or container has an itemized list instead of one long list that spreads over 4 green colour coded boxes.

There are even apps now that you can download to help make it even easier and they are free. Try Encircle: Home Inventory, My Inventory Manager, Belongings – Home Inventory, Items and Storage and Inventory or Home Inventory Photo Remote for your apple products or you can search http://appcrawlr.com/app/search/?q=home+inventory for other android devices.

Inventorying your items may save you time in the long run

Inventorying your items takes time. Take a deep breath and one step/box at a time

Don’t get overwhelmed

People usually require storage during what is an already stressful time. Packing up a house is a daunting experience, there always seems to be more stuff than you can remember and it usually is a task that you think will not take long but usually takes a lot longer (well this has seemed to be the case with every move that I have had to make). One important lesson that I have learnt is to plan. A little time spent on planning can save you a lot of time in the end.

Break the task up into parts – take it room by room. This may make the huge job ahead not such an impossible one. If you don’t have time to itemise each box pre-label your boxes and have friends or kids if you have them to help.

Keep it safe

Once you have completed the inventory list, make sure you keep the list somewhere that is easily accessible and safe. You can keep a copy of the list in your storage unit, however it is best to keep it at home so you can refer to it when you need to. Keep a digital copy – weather you take a photo of the list, transfer it onto an excel spreadsheet or scan it – it is best to have more than one copy.

After going to all the time and effort in doing the list, the last thing you want to ask yourself is “Where did I put that inventory list?”