My least favorite space in the home is the garage. Specifically, I don’t like to enter our garage. Sometimes I think of it as the abyss. Things enter and never leave. Well, that’s not exactly true. In the twenty plus years that we’ve lived here, the garage has been cleared and decluttered many times. There have been points when I’ve actually enjoyed going in there. It was time once again to evaluate the piles that had accumulated. This was one of my spring goals. It was time to face the clutter.
Yesterday was a gorgeous spring day. It was warm and sunny. I spent the first part of my day doing some inside work, but then took an outdoor lunch break at the river with my husband, Steve. As we relaxed and ate in the sun, the last thing I wanted to do was leave the river and organize the garage. I procrastinated as long as possible until Steve encouraged me to go.
Back home, I stood in the garage and looked at all the stuff. I tried not to get overwhelmed. I told myself that I would only work for a few hours and accomplish as much as I could in that time. Then I’d stop. To brighten up the atmosphere, I turned on the lights and opened the garage door to let in natural light. I began in one area, evaluating only my items. Steve promised to organize his stuff at another time.
I asked myself questions like, “Do I need this anymore?” “Is it just taking up space?” “If I released it, what would happen if I needed it someday?” I was ruthless. I began making piles of items to donate, things to recycle, items to consolidate or go elsewhere and things for the trash. In a short time, I saw progress. It felt good. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. It’s actually kind of fun.”
The organizing was intermingled with some welcome interruptions. A friend stopped to chat while riding by on his bike, there were many phone calls from family and friends and a few snack breaks. After several hours, I had items to donate to Goodwill, lots of things to recycle, a few bags of trash and most importantly . . . space! I swept the floor and dropped off the items to donate.
Reflecting back, there were a few things I did that helped with tackling the clutter. Perhaps they can help you too. They were:
- Scheduled time – set date with self in calendar to address the clutter
- Established parameters – decided how many hours I would work and with the concept of stopping when it was “good enough”
- Created optimal working environment – made sure there was enough light; playing music might have been effective too
- Asked questions – this helped me to be honest and ruthless
- Allowed breaks – the work was less intimidating because I allowed for some “fun” breaks with people and refreshments
- Appreciated the process and result – took time to enjoy the work and admire the progress
What spring organizing projects are on your to do list? What single next step will move you forward?