You’ve decluttered, you’ve created stations for different categories, and you’ve brought all food and delicate items inside. Now you just need stuff to put your stuff in! Be strategic about what you purchase, though. When I’m organizing with a client, I try to bring as few new items into the home, including the garage, as possible. Using what you already have before buying new organizing gadgets saves you money and reduces your consumption (=love for the planet!). That being said, here are my top 3 tips for garage organizing!
1. Use Vertical Space
When you can’t go outward, go upward. Hooks, racks, and shelves are all great ways to get items off the floor. Vertical storage saves space, and saves you from picking everything up off the floor. Better for your garage, and better for your back. If you need help installing organizing solutions in your garage, contact a local garage organizing installer. If you are in Los Angeles, Gus at OrganizIt! and Jay from Organized Garage Solutions both know their stuff and have been working with Professional Organizers for years. Both these garage organizing companies can help you with sports-specific hooks and bins and other tricky bulky item storage.
A neat garage that’s crawling with pests is not a neat garage at all! And if you store your stuff neatly but improperly, you could face a disaster. Avoid garage organizing mistakes and keep these items safely indoors.
Things that are affected by extreme heat, cold, or humidity belong inside your home, or in a climate-controlled storage unit. These include:
Important documents. Don’t lose your marriage certificate (or your rare vintage Pokémon cards) to water damage. High humidity or floods can render valuable items useless.
Photos. Heat and damp can cause them to fade prematurely.
Vinyl records, which can warp at high temperatures.
Wine, which needs a consistent temperature.
Delicate clothing that can mold and rot.
Paintings, which don’t do well in fluctuating temperatures.
…there’s stuff in your garage that you don’t need.
But don’t panic! Here’s how I work with my clients to decide what stays, what goes, and what to do with unwanted items. Often deciding what you will do with any items you don’t want or need before you decide if you actually want them can speed up the deciding process.
TRACKS stands for Trash, Recycle, Action, Charity, Keep, and Sell. When I’m decluttering with someone, we go through each item and ask which of these categories it belongs in. Sorting everything into these categories is a big step towards a neat, peaceful home.
Pro tip: Start in a small area to get the hang of TRACKS. Try decluttering one box, one drawer, or one shelf using this method. It’s okay to go slow.
Pop quiz! What do these garage organizing statements have in common?
“This chair doesn’t fit in our dining room, so I’ll put it in the garage. We’ll bring it in if we have a party.”
“Just put empty moving boxes in the garage, we’ll figure out what to do with them later.”
“Tools go in the garage, just put them wherever, it’s fine.”
What these sentences all have in common is that they are all lies. That chair is not coming back inside—the garage is where things to go get dusty and be forgotten. Those towers of moving boxes will hang around until your next move, unless you unload them on someone else who moves first. It’s not fine to put tools wherever, unless you like playing find-the-screw-in-the-nail-stack.
If you think of your garage as a dumping ground for things you don’t know what to do with, or as a temporary storage space until you think of something better, you set yourself up for frustration. I don’t want that for you! I want your garage to be a useful, stress-free zone. Here’s how.
Maintaining organization is crucial! Your to-go kits or your laptop bag are only useful if you know how to (and actually do) maintain them. Here are some simple ideas to make sure your car or mobile workspace stay nice and tidy!
Purge your backpack: If you’re a hot-desker or use a coworking space, it’s best to pack light. But over time, paperwork, notes, and sticky notes can add up to a lot of clutter. I recommend that you purge your backpack, satchel, or laptop bag on a regular basis. If you let it go too long, purging might seem like a big task, but having a regular schedule keeps the task very manageable. Whether it’s once weekly or twice a month, keep track of when you purge your mobile workspace so you know when it’s time to get it all out and see what needs to go.
Have a home for everything: Decide where each item goes in your bag, and stick to it. If you keep your pens in the front pocket, make sure you put them back there when you’re done with them. Having a home for each item means that when it’s time to do a purge, you know where to put everything back. It’s much easier to find things when you need them, too!
Your car is an extension of your home, and many of the same rules apply when it comes to organization. You want to limit clutter, have a home for each item, and (most importantly) you want the space to be functional.
But the car is used for so many different tasks, it can be difficult to figure out what should stay, and what should go. You need different things when you go grocery shopping than you do on your way to the office, but how do you fit everything in at once?
The short answer is: you don’t!
A multi-use space
I recommend that my clients think of their car as a multi-use space, and just like any multi-use area in your home or office, it needs to be kept clean, tidy, and organized to be functional. Think about the different ways you use your car. Do you use it to go on grocery runs? Do you need to take the kids to and from school?
I’ll go into this in more detail next week, but the best way to make your car a multi-use space is to create to-go kits containing items that you need in specific situations. Instead of cramming everything you might need into your car at once, take just what you need with you when you go. And have a home for those kits in your garage or an easy to access closet so you can grab-and-go.