Keeping Storage Within Reach

Advice on decluttering suggests that the things that are used least often are stored in less accessible areas, such as garages, basements, attics, the tops of wardrobes and the bottom of cupboards. We are talking about things that are used rarely for special activities (camping gear); seasonal (Christmas decorations); stored long-term for legal reasons (old tax records); or kept for sentimental value (wedding dress).

This approach makes sense as its works best to have the things you love the most and use the most in easy reach. One pitfall with this system is that some of these long-term storage areas can be difficult to access. They can involve using step ladders, climbing up or down rickety stairs, or bending or reaching for heavy objects.

This came to my attention a few years ago when I found myself standing on a step ladder lifting a heavy suitcase of clothes down to do my change of season wardrobe switch over. It occurred to me that maybe it was not wise to be lifting and twisting with a heavy object over my head while standing on a step ladder. The suitcase was awkward and heavy, and I could have injured my back while twisting and heaving it onto the bed. I was alone in the house so if I had fallen and hit my head, no-one would have know. After this I started storing spare clothes in laundry bags at ground level, and eventually decluttered enough that I can keep all my clothes in the wardrobe.

We need to keep safety and accessibility in mind when storing less frequently used items. This is particularly the case as we get older, or if we have health issues or mobility problems. A storage solution that works when you are fit and well might become a liability if health and mobility problems become an issue later. Its a sad thing when you reach a point that you can’t have a Christmas tree because you can’t get it down!

One way to address this problem is to be thinking long term and gradually decluttering so that you aren’t overwhelmed by belongings when you are no longer in a position to manage them. Keep safety and accessibility in mind when deciding whether something is worth keeping, given the storage options available. If inaccessible storage needs to be made use of, it might be necessary to enlist the help of visiting friends and family every now and then to access things that are out of reach. Its not worth risking a broken hip for a Christmas tree.


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