How to Organize a Garage. Is Yours a Disaster?
I know there's a hammer in there somewhere
Decluttering and Organizing Will Make Your Life Smoother
The problem with a cluttered garage isn't just that it's a mess. It screws with your head, makes you unhappy and steals time away from you.
How does a cluttered garage steal time? It slows you down, especially when you need to find something that's "in there somewhere." Just as a messy desk robs you of time, a cluttered garage can kill a morning. You need a hammer. It's hanging on a wall in the distance. First you have to move two bicycles. a lawn mower, a gas can and a large object the use for which you haven't the foggiest idea. You're not having a good day. Now you crawl into your head and start to mess with your brain. "Why can't I get organized?" "I never seem to get it right." "Someday I've got to do something about this." "This is just like my life—a cluttered mess."
Start By Cleaning Up Your Attitude
No, this isn't a lecture about positive thinking. This is a simple, practical way to start your project. If you just set aside a few hours and charge into the mess you will wind up moving piles of crap from here to there. At the end you still are left with piles of crap. You need to organize it. Begin with a simple mental imaging exercise. Close your eyes and picture a clean, organized garage. Imagine yourself looking for that hammer. You notice that you're not looking for it; you're simply walking up to it because it's hanging where it should be. Notice how you feel compared to your emotional state when you had to move piles of debris to get a simple tool. You are now ready to focus on how to organize it.
You Need a Plan—A Very Simple Plan
If you start going crazy making lists and diagrams of where everything should go, you will make yourself just that—crazy. The simpler the better. Here are some tips:
1. Plan the project for good weather. This may seem terribly obvious, but because you will need to use the area outside the garage you can't do it in the rain. Also, if it's a hot, humid day, the project can go from fun to unpleasant in a few minutes. When you think about how to organize a garage, it should be fun, not drudgery.
2. Plan the piles.
- Rummage sale area. Things that you don't want or need goes here. You can either sell the items at a future rummage sale or donate them to a charity.
- Gardening tools and equipment. Tools should be organized by their function, not just the big category: tools.
Household tools and equipment.
- Paint and painting supplies.
- Miscellaneous. If this pile gets too big try to come up with one or two more categories based on what you're looking at. Remember: before you started the project there was only on category—miscellaneous.
3. Plan where the items will go. Now that the garage is empty, you need to prepare it for moving the stuff back in an organized way. There are a lot of garage organizing systems on the market. There are companies that will not only hang the organizers on the walls but will move the junk out for you and help to put it back. If you want to go the inexpensive route and do it yourself, there are a few things you will need.
Peg Board - Endless Uses
· Peg board. A peg board is one of the most useful things ever invented. You insert hooks of various sizes and you have one of the cheapest and most versatile organizing tools on the planet. Some people hang peg board around the entire garage, essentially making peg board walls. This is a great idea because you can just put in a hook and you have a spot to hang something.
· L-Brackets. These come in many sizes and shapes. They may be wood or metal. The one pictured here is one of the handiest. They're great for stowing hoses and electric wire. You can also hang a bicycle from an L-bracket. An L-bracket should be screwed directly into a stud because it's meant to bear weight.
· A table. When you retrieve items from a garage, you often need a flat surface to place them temporarily. A simple wooden or folding table toward the center of the garage will do the trick. It should be sturdy to accommodate occasional heavy items.
· The garage ceiling. A typical garage ceiling has open rafters. This creates a great place to stow long boards that you don't need ready access to.
A Note on Garage Walls
Some people don't like the appearance of unfinished wall studs in a garage. Some put up walls for insulation purposes, which is an excellent idea for an attached garage. But please REMEMBER THIS: You need to be able to easily locate the wall studs for hanging things. So either don't finish the walls by filling in the nail holes, or paint vertical stripes where the studs are located. Hey, it's a garage, not a den.
Basements, Attics and Barns
Every tip in this article works perfectly well for basements, attics, barns and any area that you use for storage.
Putting All the Stuff Back
Now that you have organized piles, you can put the items in specific locations in the garage. Don't be obsessive about what part of the garage should be dedicated to the various categories of items. Because you have organized the stuff you can always change the location later. It hardly matters if gardening material goes on the right or left.
So why not start right now. Close your eyes and imagine your clean and efficient garage. Picture yourself walking in and grabbing whatever you need in an instant, because it's hanging there in plain view. Feel good? Congratulations, your project has begun.
Copyright ©2012 by Russell F. Moran