The garage... it tends to be the dumping ground of all the things we don't actually want to deal with.
Whether that's things we need to rehome, items that need to be taken to the dump, or decisions that we just don't want to make, so we set them aside and hope the old adage is true: out of sight, out of mind.
When I finally got up the courage to face my garage, I was quite pleased with the state of my home. I had eliminated so much and my home was running smoothly. The main rooms were easy to keep clean and tidy and I was fairly content with my surroundings.
But the garage was nagging me in the back of my mind and I, frankly, did not want to deal with it.
There was never a good time to address it – it was always either too cold or too hot or life was too busy and I just didn't have an entire day to address the things in the garage.
I put it off for several years, in fact! Until I hit the point that the shame of it was too much to bear and I didn't want to feel that way anymore when I had to retrieve something from the garage.
Set some dates
I knew the things in the garage would require something. Most of them required a large vehicle and time to transport, either to the dump or to the donation center.
Old furniture always seemed like such a hassle to haul, the partial gallons of paint, and the toxic cleaners that I had removed from my home that knew I shouldn't just dump in the trash, so I had set them in the garage.
I had to make some type of plan – dates on the calendar to deal with these things!
First, I asked a friend to come and help me one day so we could take a few trips to the dump and donation centers.
Having someone to visit with when you're driving back and forth can make the time much more enjoyable. And having that day set aside helps follow through – as well as wanting to get it ALL dealt with you so you don't have to make more trips on any other days.
If you don't have the ability to have help or a vehicle to haul things, scheduling pickups from a donation center and/or a junk removal service is the best thing to do.
Knowing that a junk removal service is coming on a certain day definitely gives the motivation to get everything set aside that needs to go.
Deal with it
Because the garage tends to be full of items we didn't actually want to deal with – committing to declutter and organize the garage means you need to commit to dealing with those things.
Make the hard decisions.
Throw away the useless things.
Plan a day to run errands and donate all the random things to the places you've been intending to.
Invest in organization systems
I'm 100% in favor of getting rid of things, not just organizing them.
But the garage is one place where organization systems help tremendously!
Head into the garage and evaluate what you have and consider what's needed to make it easy for you to use.
Preordering organizational items provides a date to have things sorted and cleared out.
Knowing that those items are on their way can spur you on to finish what you started.
PLEASE purchase items based on what you know you are going to keep:
- If you have a family of 5 and you have 7 bikes, order a bike rack that holds 5 bikes, knowing that you will let go of the extras.
- If you have camping gear, order shelves to hold only what you need, not the surplus amount.
- If you have tools, order a toolbox that will hold the essentials, don't store the extras.
The nice thing about organizing the garage is that...
If you have bicycles, it makes a big difference when they are hung on a wall.
If you have gardening supplies, having the shovels, rakes and tools hung up and off the floor make it easy to find and use when needed.
If you have tools, having a toolbox with drawers or pegboard where each tool has a place to belong saves so much time when you're working on a project.
You will be more likely to go camping or fishing if all the supplies are in one place and easy to grab.
It's easier to go skiing or rafting if everything is together and easy to access.
Be drastic with the decluttering
The garage needs to be a useful space.
We use it to store things that we use throughout the year – we don't want to simply store things that are never used.
If you have stacks of boxes so deep you never want to move the Christmas boxes to get into the camping supplies... the camping supplies are no longer useful or serving you.
Whatever we keep needs to serve us, and for most of us, that means we need to let a lot of things go.
Maybe that means getting rid of the camping supplies because you recognize it's just not something you enjoy – or maybe it's paring down the Christmas decor so you can embrace more outdoor adventures.
There is no right or wrong- but whatever you keep needs to help you live the life you want to live.
Not your past life (I used to camp in college, it was so much fun...), not your future life (when I retire I'm going to go camping every weekend) but here and now. Will you use it this year? Would you enjoy that right now? If not – let it go.
**FYI – there are camping supply rentals popping up all over the U.S. so you can rent what you need and not have to store any of it!
Create sections or zones to help you keep it organized
I know that I mow the lawn once a week – which means the lawnmower needs to be easily accessible to me. So I have lawn care supplies next to the door.
I have young kids who ride bikes frequently, so the bikes need to be easy to retrieve and put away again.
We have a workbench, so the tools need to be within reach of it, and having drawers with labels helps all the family members know where to look for certain tools and where to put them away again.
We also enjoy camping, so having a shelf just for camping supplies has made packing the car 10x easier and things aren't forgotten.