I think there are some common problems with garages that people share no matter where they live.
- They’re not just for keeping cars – we use garages to store bikes, lawn equipment, sports equipment, extra raw materials (like pieces of wood…)wood for fireplaces, tools – all kinds of stuff.
- For a lot of people this is our entrance way into our house – so we might keep shoes, recycles, trash, And this might be our motivation for trying to keep it organized! Because we walk through it all the time. And it bugs us if it’s a mess.
- It’s usually one big room when we move in and that’s hard to organize because there’s no pre-determined place to put things. We have to do it from scratch.
So if you’ve decided it’s time to tackle the garage, here’s my CPR process that I discuss in my book ABSOLUTELY ORGANIZED. And this can be used for any room in your house by the way:
- You’ve got to plan the time to do it and solicit some help either from your family or a friend. It’s not a one person job and it’s going to take anywhere from 3 – 6 hours the first time you do it. To make it fun, put on some music, give the kids a reward afterwards or promise your friend a meal (pizza & beer works well for my friends)
(That’s one of my absolutes or rules: If you don’t plan it – it’s not going to happen)
- CATEGORIZE: Take everything out of the garage and put it in piles in your driveway or on your lawn. Categories can be: sports equipment, lawn & garden, tools, bikes… And if one of those categories is really big: break it down further.
- PURGE: as you pull things out start to purge whatever is broken or disgusting, or anything you don’t use anymore. (for items you want to give away, I suggest you look online for places to donate, or give to a friend or just put at the end of your driveway and let people take it) For chemicals or gasoline call your township and find out about hazardous waste collections)
- RE-arrange: Now that you have piles of everything you’re keeping start to think about what you use most often and make it accessible. For the kids toys and sports equipment we use colorful plastic tubs on the floor. For our lawn chemicals we put them in plastic bins up on a shelf. Keep things in their categories and create zones. Even if you don’t have the right containers or shelves right now, put things back where you want them by the end of your organizing session.
- Now you can go shopping for what you need: industrial shelves, wall cabinets, racks, etc. There’s a range of products for garages and you can spend thousands of dollars on a garage makeover, but you want to make sure it’s organized first, so you can measure the space for exactly what you need. Rubbermaid has an inexpensive Track system if you want to do it yourself or you can go high end to places like GarageTek. I’ve even seem people put up old kitchen cabinets in their garage for storage.
- To keep it that way, you have to straighten it on a weekly basis – teach your kids where things go. And then clean out on a seasonal basis. Our family has a pool so we do a Saturday clean out once in the late Spring to get the pool/beach stuff out and accessible and then once in the fall to put the pool stuff away and get the winter supplies out (shovels, rock salt, sleds). Because we do this twice a year we can do it now in LESS THAN 2 HOURS. The kids complain…we put on music…let them play a little; give them little jobs and then we take them to McDonald’s afterwards. Everybody’s happy and it’s a great way to spend a little family time on a nice day.