Can you park your car in your garage? If so, congratulations! But many of your neighbors can’t. In fact, about 25% of garages are used to protect a large amount of “stuff” from the elements while expensive cars are parked outside. When opened, you shut those garage doors quickly before the neighbors can see. If you enter your home through the garage entrance, a disorganized garage greets you with stress. Not a nice welcome! It’s time to start organizing your garage.
If you can’t park your car in your garage, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I know what’s in there?
- Can I find items when I need them and access them easily?
- Is my garage pest-free?
- Is that stuff in the garage as valuable as my car?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to give your garage (and car) a little TLC: Tender Loving Cleanout.
Garages as Storage
A garage is a large, sometimes misused and abused, storage container and the car has first dibs. If it’s a two-car garage and you have two cars, then both cars should fit. Any extra space can be used for storing yard equipment, bikes, an extra fridge or freezer, holiday decorating supplies, outdoor games, and some excess household supplies. There may even be space for a hobby or mini-workshop area. TIP: Have an extra fridge in the garage? Use it for non-perishable items like extra ice, bottled water, sodas, beer, and wine.
The Best Time for Organizing Your Garage
When is the best time to clean out and organize a garage? A good rule of thumb (at least in the south) is before or after hurricane season and when you have a couple of days to devote to the project. Avoid working on garages in hot weather since there is very little ventilation and you can’t work for long periods of time in an oven. Likewise, in very cold weather coats and scarves are a hindrance to moving around.
Men and Their Garages
With the risk of appearing to stereotype, I have made these observations when helping a couple downsize:
- Most men don’t want me, or their wives for that matter, in their garages. Or at least, they want to be totally involved and in charge of the process.
- Everyone needs their space
You were probably expecting a longer list, but that’s pretty much it. This is really a good lesson for all organizing projects. Focus on improving your own spaces before trying to coerce or insist that another adult member of the household clean up their areas at the same time. Declutter and organize your own spaces and things and something magical happens. Organizing is contagious and you will probably notice your significant other (or maybe even a teenager) start to clean up.
5 Steps to Organizing Your Garage
- Schedule: Schedule two full days for your garage makeover. If you cannot allocate two full days, schedule several four-hour blocks of time. A lot can be accomplished in four hours, however, it is rare for two people (you, a professional organizer and/or significant other) to completely clean out and organize a packed garage in that amount of time. Set your expectations and just know that you are making progress.
- Plan out Zones: What do you plan to store where, and when and how will those things be used? Consider these locations:
- Store yard maintenance supplies on one side close to the garage door and bikes on the other side
- Store home supplies (lightbulbs, excess Costco/Sams Club close to the interior door
- Select an interior corner for a workbench/hobby area if you have space
- Select a wall/walls for shelving and storage containers
- Prepare: Purchase any tools, storage items, cleaning supplies you are sure you will need to complete the project. Some items to consider:
- Large, heavy-duty trash bags (drawstring are usually not thick enough)
- Push broom
- Hanging supplies: Bike hooks or parking rack for bike storage, bars with clamps or hooks for brooms, shovels, mops, etc
- See-through bins with lids (measure the shelving!). Cardboard is not an ideal storage solution inside or outside your home because it attracts bugs.
- Get it Done! Turn on your favorite music and get started. Set up a fan if you need some ventilation. It would be really efficient to empty the entire garage, clean it out and then return what you are keeping to designated spaces, but that isn’t always possible. If you don’t have the time, it’s raining or you just don’t want your neighbors to see the chaos, then keep the garage door shut, but cracked slightly for fresh air.
- Celebrate: You don’t have to have a garage unveiling party, but do add a few nice touches as a reward for all the hard work of organizing your garage. Add a fresh welcome mat in front of the door leading into your house. Inexpensive, but cheerful framed or metal art is also a nice way to greet you or your guests coming in through the garage.
One final tip: Good Feng Shui practice suggests having your car headlights point away from your home. This means backing into your garage. A little tricky, but what a treat to leave your home the next day moving forwards instead of backward. This is a good metaphor for the day and your life – always move forward – which is what good organizing helps you do anyway!
Need help getting organized and building good habits for a productive life? Call me at 904-500-SORT (7678) or message me here for your free consult for organizing or life coaching. I’d love to help you simplify and Zen Your Den® (and your life).
Barbara Trapp, Professional Organizer, Productivity Consultant, and Life Coach
Zen Your Den®
Professional Member, NAPO (National Organization of Productivity and Organizing Professionals)
Residential Organizing Specialist, NAPO
Workplace Productivity Specialist, NAPO