Do you like what you see when you push the garage door opener to your home?

Are you proud of what the neighbors can see or do you get in and out as fast as possible, shutting the door quickly behind you?

Summer is upon us, and it’s a great time to tackle your garage.

Herein is a helpful “case study” (along with some tactics and inspiration) for you if you are motivated to get your garage, shed, storage area, or outbuilding organized.

Seeing our clients commit to themselves to get organized – and then going the distance with that objective – is one of the most rewarding parts of being professional organizers. By completing even just one project, we know that they are that much closer to getting their lives back. Because one project can bring a momentum to tackle other projects until the entire household is restored.

And the garage is a BIG thorn in the side for most folks – it’s a great space to organize as the light and weather are improving.

Recently, we tackled a messy garage for one of our clients.

It certainly wasn’t the worst garage we’d ever seen, but there were familiar and common problems – shrinking floor space, lost items, and family frustration.

As you may well know, the garage is the “final frontier” of the home…it’s the place where we toss everything that doesn’t have a home. It becomes a catch-all. And the continuous accumulation leads to a chaotic, uninviting, and even unusable space.

Like this family, folks become overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” that has gathered in the space and avoid the garage simply because we don’t know where to start.

That is exactly how Tiffany Cobb’s client felt before help from Restoring Order arrived.

With busy schedules, the family’s garage had become cluttered leading them to feel overwhelmed and unable to find the things they needed when they need them. “Where did that hammer go?”

Even the investments they had made in storage systems weren’t working because bins and boxes became stacked up in front of those racks. Access became impossible.

That’s why product alone is NOT the answer to your organizing challenges. You’ve got to start with what we call a “total burn down….”

So, what does the process of organizing the garage look like?

1. The first step is to remove all of the items from the garage and sort them into what we call “neighborhoods” or categories.

For example, in Tiffany’s garage project, the neighborhoods consisted of:

  • Lawn & garden
  • Motorcycle
  • Auto
  • Tools
  • Pets
  • Camping
  • Home improvement

This step takes a while because you don’t just frantically drag stuff into the driveway; you make piles and groupings of items, sub-sorting as you go.

(You’re probably realizing from this advice that a garage project is going to take more than a few hours. Plan about 24 hours for your entire overhaul.)

2. The second step after removing everything from the space, is to use a little elbow grease. Before putting things back into the space, it is a good idea to clean every nook and cranny for a start fresh. Yes! They scrubbed windows, walls, behind the furnace, and even the water heater. Sometimes in a newer garage, a simple sweep and de-cobwebbing will do.

3. The third step after categorization is to prune your belongings, category-by-category.

Please notice that you did not start getting rid of things before this stage of the process. If you had, you would have taken a detour from the primary work of emptying and macro sorting and been waylaid by tons of decisions.

Wait till the pruning stage to go through each category and make decisions about what you still need and want. It’s much easier to make decisions in context. (As you are looking at ALL the yard and garden supplies, it’s easier to get rid of old garden gloves when you can see that you already have 3 other pairs.)

After having emptied the space and grouped (and labeled!) the categories, Tiffany walked the family past each pile and they considered items along with their frequency of use and available storage.

Pruning Strategy: If you have a harder time getting rid of things, ask yourself “When is the last time I need this?” Strongly consider if you had forgotten you had something whether you really need it now. We all too often hold on to things for the just-in-case circumstance.

4. Before putting everything back into the garage, it’s time to designate an area for each of your “neighborhoods” or categories within the garage.

This way, you can easily find the item when you need it and, if anything is added at a later date, you will know which category in which to add it.

Space Allocation Strategy: Examine what you use most often and designate the best real estate to that activity. Is it the yard and garden supplies for weekend work – or did you long ago hire a service to take care of the yard? Is it – as in this case – recreation gear (like the motorcycle and its accessories). You’ll want those items by the door for grab-and-go convenience.

Hopefully these four steps will make your garage project – or any project you decide to tackle this summer – a manageable and streamlined process.

Of course, what this process can’t illustrate is the countless decisions that are made along the way, the give-and-take between family members with varying priorities for the space, and the simple coordination to make it happen. If you could use an expert to guide your organizing project, give us a call at Restoring Order!

Our goal isn’t just a makeover (in fact, we know that without the correct background gathering and approach, a “makeover” just won’t last.) We want to help our clients recognize what caused the disorganization in the first place, articulate and make room for their priorities, and implement a system designed to specifically fit them. When your system fits you – it will last for you!

Are you ready to embark on the journey to “restore order “in your household? Contact us today for your free consultation! 

 

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