It’s April here in North Eastern Ohio and after a couple of false starts with 80 degree days in March, it looks like spring is finally here for good.
If you’re like me, you’ve been walking through the garage for the past couple of months with blinders on, trying not to notice the mess that has accumulated there over the winter – yes, garage messes accumulate in professional organizer’s garages too!
Today we’re going to use my EASY™ formula to deal with that accumulated clutter in the garage.
- First, Empty the garage of everything. Yes, that means putting it all out on the driveway, so make sure the weather forecast is on your side. As you pull everything out, put all of the stuff that doesn’t belong in your garage in one area, maybe a box will be big enough to hold these items, maybe they will need to be corralled in their own area of the driveway. These are things that have somehow migrated into the garage during the long winter: maybe a child’s coat or shirt, possibly dishes from your kitchen, possibly things belonging to someone else, such a bike. You would laugh if I told you about the things I have found in my garage over the years, but I digress.
- Next, Arrange the remaining items you’ve removed that will be staying in the garage into categories. Categories I typically use when organizing garages include: Lawn & Garden, Tools, Car Care, Sports & Recreation and Kids’ Stuff. You may have more or fewer categories depending on your particular situation, or you may end up subdividing categories such as Sports & Recreation depending on how much equipment you have. If you find any one category is significantly larger than the others then subdividing may be in order. The goal is to be able to easily find things and humungous categories don’t lend themselves to that. After you Arrange these items into categories, Arrange each category a second time into the following subcategories: Keep, Donate, Repair, and Dispose. Pack up the donations and put them in your car immediately so you can donate them the next time you run errands. Schedule the repair of the items in your Repair pile into your calendar so the repairs actually get done. Finally, get the Dispose items into the trash right away. If you have a lot of dispose items, give a company like JunkAway a call. You should be left with a sorted pile of things you are Keeping.
- Storage: Your next step is to determine how your items will be stored in the garage. I typically recommend that like categories of items be stored together to make items easier to retrieve. First figure out where the large difficult to store items, such as a wheelbarrow, lawnmower, and/or bikes will be stored. Where you choose to store these items might give some guidance on where you want to store the other items in the category, though I completely understand that its not always possible to store the lawnmower next to the gardening implements because of space constraints. Now look at what remains in each of your categories and think about how you use these items and how you want to store them: Do you use these items once a year or on a regular basis? Will they best be stored on shelves or in bins? Do they need to be placed out of reach of young children? How might they be stored to take best advantage of the vertical storage space you have on your garage walls? Can shelves or hooks be added to your walls? Only once you have identified what will be stored where in the garage and how it will be stored should you buy or install any storage products.
- You’re almost done – Remember that pile of things belonging elsewhere that you created at the beginning of the process? Now is the time to put those items away where they belong or return them to their rightful owners. Your last step is to put everything still left on the driveway in its new home and step back to admire what you’ve accomplished.