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.
Putting things away
If it’s not simple to put things away in your car, you’re not likely to do it. Make sure that each item that always needs to be in the car goes in a particular place. Coins tend to make their way everywhere in the car, but if you choose a specific compartment in your armrest console, you never have to decide where to put your spare change again. Fewer decisions means tidying up is easy!
Is there forgotten paperwork crammed under your passenger’s seat? Do you carry paperwork from the office or coffee shop to home, and back again? Consider going digital where you can. The easiest way to deal with paperwork is to make sure there’s never paperwork in the first place! If you need signatures at work for legal reasons, check out a service like Eversign! It creates legally-binding documents that are sent and signed online.
As I said before, your car is a multi-use extension of your home, and it deserves the same care and attention as any other place in your home. Taking the time to really consider what items you need and what you need them for is worth the effort.
When you don’t have to dig through loose receipts to find your hand sanitizer or reusable bag, you’ll thank yourself!
So true! You don’t have to carry everything with you every time. I created a car bag for one of my clients with small children. It has the necessary change of clothes, etc. It can stay in the car until it is used and clothes need to be swapped out. We also created a bag that has activities: crayons, coloring book, snacks etc. This bag always comes back in the house so the supplies can be replenished. I’ll be interested to read the follow up to this blog.
Thanks for the tips! I definitely live in my car with 3 boys, all who play baseball, and it can get a little unruly at times haha! 🙂
I agree! We must treat the car like it is an extension of the home. We ask questions to ourselves is essential to determine the content and where things will be stored in the vehicle. Some items needed when the kids were young may not be required when the kids are older, so car stuff should be evaluated often to remove the things we don’t need any longer. Thanks for the reminder. Springtime is a perfect time to review the car stuff.
This is actually a very important space to organize! I’m so glad you are talking about it here.
I often complain about how cars don’t have trash cans in them, and my daughter got me one for Christmas that hooks to the back of the headrest. It’s great (although I still think they should be built-in.)
The biggest problem I see is people leaving stuff in their cars instead of throwing it away or bringing it back into the house. By having specific locations for items, as you suggest, you sort of force yourself to remove what doesn’t belong, which is a big win in this busy zone!
It’s so easy for cars to become ramshackle, especially because unlike our homes we are rarely sitting and looking at anything in the car; we’re either driving or we’re not there. Personally, with the exception of of a “work box” and a First Aid kit, both in the hatchback/trunk portion of my car, I find it easier to remove EVERYTHING from the car each time I arrive at home. The only things I keep in the interior of the car are my phone charger, mileage log, and spare glasses. Everything else gets pulled out each day to avoid the inclination to put off dealing with it for later. (I don’t use cash, so luckily I don’t have to deal with coins.)
I love your idea for creating kits, which serve as (mobile) zones to go in your car. Instead of having the zones live in the car, they move to and from the car, keeping everything self-contained. So smart!
The car zone 0r multi-use concept is terrific! So much happens in a car, especially when there are many family members using the vehicle too. But even these days when my car is only used by me, I find the zone idea so useful. I love that I can find what I need and keep everything organized.
One thing that helps is removing garbage or items that belong elsewhere at the end of each trip. That helps me easily maintain the systems I have in place.
I like the go-bag system. At my house, the car is unpacked every time we come home. Garbage is taken out and put in the garbage can, books are brought into the house, sports gear is put away. It is so easy for a vehicle to get full of stuff. You put in the vehicle what you need for that trip and put it away when you’re done.