Once you have decided what you want to use your garage for, you may find there are items that need to be removed from the garage. If you are keeping them, find a new home for them that makes sense. If you are not keeping them, remember to reuse and recycle.
If you are not going to reuse the items, allow other people to reuse by selling items or giving them away. Options for selling items include:
- eBay – advice from a local eBay seller, Amy Weintraub of Shop It LA , suggests only selling something on eBay if it is worth over $100 – otherwise you spend a lot of time posting on line, packaging and posting the items for not much return.
- Wertz Brothers– buy high end furniture (located in Santa Monica)
Consider donating directly to charities in your area, but give them a call first to find out if they need them. Some great places to donate to in the Los Angeles area are:
- Baby2Baby, collects and redistributes gently used baby and young children’s items
- Beyond Shelter, accepts all manner of in kind donations to assit the homeless in transitioning to homes.
- LA Shares, redistributes working electronic goods to schools and other non-profit agencies in the area.
- PATH, People Assisting The Homeless
- Soles4Souls, reusing your shoes that you don’t wear any more.
The first thing to do when organizing your garage, or any space for that matter, is to decide what you want to use the space for. This might depend on how large the space is. If you have room for 3 cars, but only have 2 cars, of course you will want to use that extra space for something.
The garage used to be the place to park your car, but more and more frequently, the car is being parked in the driveway and the garage has just essentially become another room of the house. They are turned into playrooms, entertainment rooms, exercise rooms, or just a place for storage. Some people use their garage for a hybrid of uses – parking their car, storage and a kids craft area for instance.
However you use your garage, you do want it to be functional and not just a catch-all area for stuff you can’t decide what to do with or will never actually use. All too often, it becomes a mess of old furniture, boxes of who know’s what, children’s toys, and extra supplies. The trouble with that is, if it is such a mess, or has so much stuff in it, the useful things get overshadowed and forgotten.
Parking your car
Storing seasonal decorations
Storing gardening supplies
Storing household repair items and tools
Items to avoid storing outside:
- Vinyl records
- Video cassette tapes
- Other electronic media
Anything that will be affected by damp or large temperature changes really should be stored in the house.
Summer time is a great time to spend outdoors. There’s the beach, sports, walks in the mountains, or gardening in your back yard. And probably most of the gear you need for your summer outdoor activities is stored in the garage. Why not make it easy to access so you spend as little time there as possible and more time out doing the activities you want to do?
Here are 6 tips to help organize your belongings in the garage.
- Keep all the things you use for one activity together
- It’s much faster to get out the door when all your gear for an activity is together. Let’s take going camping. It used to take us a couple of hours to get everything together from various places around the house and garage. Now we can have our car packed with all our camping gear for a weekend in about 20 minutes. We all have “camping clothes” that we can quickly throw in a bag. We have a separate box that we keep all our camping cutlery, dishes and kitchen supplies in that stays in the garage ready to go. All our camping gear is in one section of shelving within the garage, so we literally just have to back up our car and load everything straight in.
Use the vertical space in your garage effectively
- Use cabinets, shelving and overhead racks if you have the vertical space.
Tackle a big garage organizing project in stages
- If your garage has been a dumping ground for some time, you may need to approach the garage in stages. Perhaps tackle one wall first, perhaps one corner, or perhaps the gear for one activity that you do. Organize the items that you use most often first. That way, you’ll be able to spend more time doing your favorite activities, rather than organizing (which I know is one of OUR favorite activities, but probably not yours!)
I recently attended the National Association of Professional Organizers annual conference. I’m always inspired by the speakers and my fellow organizers. I want to share three particularly amazing resources I think you will love too, all regarding using a minimalist approach to life.
1) This year the opening keynote speakers were a pair of young guys, Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, a.k.a. The Minimalists. They shared their stories of letting go of the extra things they had in their lives and the resulting happiness they experienced. You can see their TEDx talk here (https://www.youtube.com/). They continue to blog about their lives, simplifying their existence and pursuing meaningful endeavors at their blog (http://www.theminimalists.com/).
2) Another inspiring blog is Zen Habits (http://zenhabits.net/) by minimalist Leo Babauta. Zen Habits is about “finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.” Leo is a father of six who lives in San Fransisco. I have two children and can only imagine the complexity that six would bring to a life! We simplify our lives by scheduling the majority of the kids after school activities together. They both take Kung Fu, they both take piano. And other than Girl Scouts once every two weeks which only my daughter participates in, they have time to spend playing with their neighborhood friends. Almost a lost art in Los Angeles where kids seem to be scheduled every moment of every day.
3) The third resource I will mention today is the blog Becoming Minimalist (http://www.becomingminimalist.com/) by Joshua Becker. He is part of a family of four living in Arizona and has shared his story with various TV stations and has written several books to inspire you as well.
The best thing about all these writers is that what they say is simple to do. It doesn’t cost you any money, in fact, you may end up making money if you sell the things you no longer need.
How will you make more space in your life today?
What can you let go of that you no longer need?
It doesn’t matter if my clients live in 800 square feet or 4000 square feet, during our initial interview, they invariably say, “We don’t have enough storage space.” And it feels like that. Spaces are jammed with items, items with no home are spilling out of their storage space and the situation feels overwhelming to the client. And yet, invariably, once we have sorted through the items, we discover more than enough space for the things the clients loves and uses.
Clutter accumulation can be insidious. It occurs slowly, one item at a time, over a period of weeks, months or years. And if you’re not vigilant, suddenly, your home is filled with clutter. We moved into our current abode about 18 months ago and since then, I admit, I’ve been a bit lazy about making sure things leave the house as rapidly as they enter it. The result? Since I’m a master at space management, I can pack an awful lot into a small space, but it has to go in just so, or it doesn’t fit! Our home that felt comfortable when we moved in, now feels overstuffed.
So we’re having a purging month. We’re letting go of things that could have left our home 6 months or even a year ago since we haven’t used them since then.
How about you? Will you join me in a space challenge?
Some options for space challenges:
- Challenge: let go of 1 thing per day
- Super challenge: let go of 1 thing the first day, 2 the second, 3 the third, and so on.
- Just get rid of the extra stuff! (This is my husband’s favorite option – no need to keep track or count!)
- Post progress on the Organize to Excel Facebook page – we want to see your hard work!
Spring is traditionally a time for new beginnings. Trees have new growth, flowers blossom, and many babies are born. It’s a time of year when everything feels invigorating, it’s a time of expectation.
Yet, if your space is full of clutter from past activities, you do not have the space to create, to explore, to experience those new beginnings.
So take an inventory, either on paper, on your smart phone, or just in your head. Notice which items you have that are related to activities that you no longer do, or are outdated even if for a current activity. Look for items that, if you let go of them, you wouldn’t miss.
How much space could you create if you sold/donated/recycled those items?
And what would you do with that space? Breathe, feel abundant and luxurious. Maybe you would invite friends over to enjoy the new space you have created.
How would more space change your life? Maybe you’d just be able to get dressed more easily in the morning. Maybe you’d have space to play board games with your kids. Maybe you wouldn’t do anything with the space, just enjoy it.
Imagine a whole new world without the clutter. In my home, we’re getting rid of many of old books that the kids have outgrown. We’re keeping a few as mementos, but let me be clear, my husband and I are keeping them. We enjoyed reading them to our kids, they hold those great memories and, okay, I have fantasies about reading them with grandkids someday too. Everything else is being donated to the library or recycled. Now my kids have got space for new books and toys that they can enjoy.
What are you letting go of this Spring?