As I write this, we’re finally expecting 90-degree weather: Summer’s here! And when the weather finally cooperates, we want to be ready to grab our gear, head out the door, and soak in the great outdoors! One way to ensure that you can do that without a lot of delay is to declutter and organize your garage now. A lot of what we store in the garage is seasonal or is used on weekly basis or only annually, so it requires a concerted effort to make serious change in your garage. If you do, your future self will be thanking you.
Step 1: Resist the temptation to haul everything onto the driveway and hose out the garage as your first step. You need to go through the things that you have first – many of them may be dirty and full of cobwebs. Gather up all the immediately identifiable trash and get it into the bins. Then, start by removing from their current location one category of similar things at a time. Review everything in each category and discard what isn’t used, doesn’t fit, is broken, or has outlived its usefulness.
Start with a category that gets heavy use in the summer such as sports equipment because a win here will motivate you to keep up the good work. Do you and/or your family still participate in this sport regularly? Are all the balls, racquets, clubs, sticks, cleats, skates, etc. in good shape and do you have a complete set? Do you need fresh balls for golf, are your clubs clean, do you need to replace one? Just like when you purge anything else, you should have piles for what you will keep, donate, recycle, and discard. Do this sport by sport. If your kids are no longer in T-ball, maybe it’s time to pass along the T-ball tee to another family with younger kids. Getting through the fishing, camping, and other outdoor gear should go the same way.
A word to the wise: the phrases “I might need this sometime” or “I’m planning to start doing that this winter” should be banished. They are merely excuses to put off the hard decisions now. Take the time. Do you use it, do you love it, do you have space to store it? (It should go without saying that off-site storage is only for major machinery, like a boat or RV.)
Likewise, gardening should all be put in one area and that’s when you decide if this mower on its last legs is ever going to make it to the repair shop or if it should just be thrown out. Do you have seven pair of garden gloves for 2 people? Pare it down. The same goes for duplicate gardening tools: Yes, there are different styles of rakes, but keep only one unless you’re certain that two of you will be using that same style at the exact same time. Continue through tools, toys, holiday decorations, snow removal equipment, going category by category. If you run out of steam, just finish up the category you’re working on and return to the project the next day. That way, you won’t have drug everything out and now be faced with returning everything with no clear sense of where to logically store things. By all means, though, get this part of the job done as quickly as possible. It should take no longer than a weekend.
Step 2: Get rid of the donate, recycle, and discard piles. Gone and over with as promptly as possible.
Step 3: Now you can empty your garage and hose it out. Be sure to sweep out cobwebs from the ceiling and wash the windows. If you need more light, install LED bulbs now – it can make a huge difference. If you’re planning to do some painting, now is the time!
Step 4: With a clean garage and a clearly defined amount of “stuff” that you are going to make space for in your garage, it’s time to get a storage plan together. Assuming you have limited space in your garage (who doesn’t), look to overhead storage for the least frequently accessed items, like holiday décor. Also, if your family has bicycles, there are a wide variety of storage solutions from wall mounted to ceiling mounted.
A lot of the things that go into a garage have specialty hooks that you can install to corral difficult or bulky items, like basketballs and soccer balls as well as extension ladders and brooms. Shelving is also a good idea, if you don’t already have some. Do yourself a favor and go to the hardware store after you have purged to see what storage solutions will work for your space and potential layout. Peg board is your friend, too, because it allows for modifications, comes with baskets and shelves, and is infinitely expandable in many colors. And don’t forget the trusty storage tote and labeler. Use clear storage totes so you can see what is in them when they’re on high shelves and use large labels to denote where each item goes. Because the way to keep your garage organized in the long run is for everyone to know where to put away each item!
It's a bit of a job, cleaning out the garage. But getting this out of the way early will make the rest of your summer carefree. You can just grab the, the baseball gear and cooler, and head out!
Make the most of your summer!
Mrg Simon is a professional organizer, Certified KonMari Consultant, and a South Dakota lawyer.
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*Designed 2 Stick and Mrg Simon do not offer legal services. Mrs. Simon does not accept legal clients or provide legal advice.