Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ask Linda: Any Ideas for Garage Organization?

Last week, a friend posed this Question: 
"Linda, I just emptied out my disaster of a garage, epoxied the floor and painted the walls. Any ideas for garage organization?"
The garage is a tough project, similar to the basement. It is thankless and dirty, but "Oh So Rewarding" when finished.

Nothing will make it easy, but if you follow these tips, it will likely ensure satisfaction at the end of it all.

Be ruthless: Keep only 2/3 or less of what you currently have. That means for every two items you keep, get rid of one! Toss/recycle anything that is beyond repair, or not worthy of donation. Think about how often you have used that item in the last five years. Be honest. If you are afraid to get rid of it, ask yourself if you could easily replace it, or if you would buy it today if you saw it on sale at the store. Most things we keep are from guilt, or because we "might" need it some day. Someone else may be able to use what you don't need. Consider my post on Freecyle and my WNY Resources Donation Page.

Choose the right storage to keep the stuff that's left: We use these storage units, in our basement and garage and they work really well. They come in two depths, 18" and 24". I recommend purchasing at least two if you have the room, as they look nicer when they are placed next to each other in a uniform way, and it makes it easier to store things if you have a little wiggle room on the shelves. They are sturdy and durable and no maintenance. I recommend them for utility storage as well as in a basement playroom.

Getting organized is a process, not an event: I say this all the time to myself, my clients, my family. There will not come a moment where a rainbow comes out and you are Finally Organized. Instead, there will be a transition period where you begin to see the order of things and visualize the possibilities and pleasures of living more simply. This will feel wonderful! Of course, it will slowly clutter up again, and as things change, you age, have other people living with you, change your interests, ideas and capacities, you will need to continue to organize and declutter. But once you do the big job, as my friend did when she painted and epoxied the floor, you create a new canvas where you can design a more functional, organized and beautiful space. You will feel So Much Better.

Recognize that you cannot force people to get rid of things: If you live alone, this won't apply. But many of us don't and we have other people's stuff sharing our space. This can be difficult. This year my son was willing to part with some very outgrown golf clubs, but I couldn't convince my husband to pass along the snowshoes that hadn't been used since (possibly) the Storm of 2001 (if even then). Be flexible if you are organizing others (as in the case of older parents-- see post Helping Older People Get Organized), don't push beyond the limit. You can use the Paper Towel Technique described by Judith Kohlberg (see post How Do I Get Started) to break things down into manageable pieces. Once people get used to the idea of parting with things, they often can let go of more because it falls into the same category as what they have already decided they can live without. This is when the most progress will be made.

Good luck to my friend, with your garage project and kudos to you for beginning and following through and thanks for asking the question!

For help with any organizing project
simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

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