Have you taken a good look at your garage lately? When was the last time you parked your car or cars in it? When you walk into it what do you see?
I don’t know about you, but as I’m driving down the street and I see open garage doors I find a variety of views. There is the neat and tidy garage with the car parked in it. There is the garage (usually a two or three car variety) that has a spot for one car and the rest is crammed full of stuff. And then there is the garage that other than the large overhead door you wouldn’t know it was a garage – it’s so full of stuff all the cars are in the driveway or on the street.
Too often we consider our garage the repository for all those things we don’t know what to do with, intend to repair or refurbish or just treat it as a giant storage room. You should view your garage as an important element in a well-organized home. Just as you have a system for managing your paper and files in your office and have a neat and orderly system in your kitchen and for managing your children’s stuff – you should have a system for having an effectively organized garage. A well-organized garage can help your home function more efficiently and effectively.
Now I’m sure we all would love to have one of those garages like you see on tv with the great cabinets, lighting and pleasing environment. But getting your garage organized doesn’t require all that money and all that glitz.
So how do you keep a garage organized? It’s simple really – you just need a system! I find the most efficient and easiest systems have three main elements – Point of Entry, Point of Action, Point of Storage.
Point of entry – how and when are these items entering the garage – if your garage looks something like a dumping ground it’s because you don’t have a system in place to deal with the items and you or others in your household aren’t identifying where they need to go or what action needs to be taken.
The first thing to do is look at everything in your garage and categorize the items into key areas (for example – seasonal items, gardening, home repair, auto, etc.) The next step is to identify the best space for each of those key areas to reside. From there you can identify what means you have for storing and using those items (this is where you evaluate if you need cabinets, shelves, bins, etc.) It’s a good idea to go through everything in the garage and categorize – usually this is the first pass at everything and you will naturally start discarding things as you do this – you can further refine things as you put them away.
The secret to maintaining order is that just as you manage the inflow and outflow of paper in your home or office – you need to maintain that inflow in your garage. Identifying the source(s) of items often will reveal if there are offenders in the household that simply need to be retrained on what and where things go. You must proclaim that your garage is no longer a dumping ground for items nobody knows what to do with or where to store.
Once you have categorized everything create zones in the garage for those items to be placed – think about what the purpose of the items is, how often they are used, etc. Locate zones for the most frequently used items in the most visible and easily accessible locations. Put things used less frequently in the locations not as easy to access and out of the way. As items enter the garage evaluate what it will be used for, do you already have one or have a better one and do you really need it.
Garages often are the location for the things that you intend to do something with, think you should keep because you might need in the future or those would have, could have, should have items. It’s time you really honest with your intentions for the item and the reality of whether or not you’ll actually complete that project you think you may need it.
Once you have identified zones put things away. I find that if I then go through each of these zones once a year I am more successful in keeping things in the garage in order.
It’s here I’d like to offer some practical advice for all those things we end up keeping in our garage because we might be able to sell them, etc. you will never eliminate the clutter if you don’t learn to let go of things. I have a basic rule – if something goes to the garage to be set aside for the annual neighborhood sale it shouldn’t be there longer than a year. Some years I don’t even want to bother with participating in the sale so I just haul it off to be donated. If I do have a sale anything left after the sale is immediately donated – it keeps stuff from collecting and building up.
What is your best tip or trick to keeping your garage organized? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll share it in an upcoming Facebook post or newsletter!