Good organization is the first step to making the most of every square foot of your storage unit. It's also the key to accessibility. If you don't know right where everything is, you may have to look through a lot more stuff before you find what you need. Be proactive about your organizational needs and use these four tips to make the most of the space you have.

1. Create a map

Sketching out a map or floor plan of your unit can help you keep everything straight in your head. Whether you position boxes based on function (Christmas ornaments here, lawn gnomes over there) or based on which area of the house they come from or even which family member they belong to, having an up-to-date schematic that pinpoints where each box is can save you time when you're looking for something. It can also allow you to pack boxes more tightly into the unit since you know exactly how to get to each one and won't have to wander around searching through piles of other boxes.

2. Create an inventory list

Once you've plotted out where each box is, take things one step further by taking inventory of each box to save even more time. Of course, if your unit is already mostly full of boxes, this inventory would take a considerable investment of time. In this case, you can either decide to simply inventory each new box you put in or to take a few minutes to inventory an extra box or two each time you come to the unit.

3. Label each box on every side

Labeling boxes clearly is one of the more frequently recommended tips for organized packing, but the importance of labeling each box on every side (including the top . . . but you can probably skip the bottom) is often overlooked. Making sure each box is identifiable from every angle gives you greater freedom to try different stacking formations without worrying about which way the boxes are turned. It also means that you'll be able to ID each box without digging it out of the stack to look for the label on the other side.

4. Use color coding

Color coding is especially helpful if you're in the middle of a move. If you color code your box labels by room, you'll be able to visually organize your boxes more easily and with less thought than if you had just written the names of the rooms on the labels. This can also make your "floor plan" schematic of the unit more visually appealing and easy to understand when you color sections to correspond with the colored labels.

These four organizational ideas will help you more easily access each box when you need it and keep all of your storage unit's square footage usable. To try these tips out in a storage unit, talk to a storage company near you, such as All American Mini Storage.