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« Ebb & Flow of Clutter | Why Let Go? »

Clutter & The Garage

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?

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Reader Comments (13)

It is an interesting blog. An experience of garage cleaning is good as it also occurs with me when m going to arrange things in my garage. I also save the things with that may i need that thing after some days and gather a lot of stuff there.

June 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGarages and Sheds

Congratulations for a job well done. I wish I can say the same for myself but unfortunately I don't have the same guts as you. Just the mere thought of imagining myself going through every clutter in the stock room/ garage raises my stress level, and I end up coming up with excuses not to face those clutters.
But after reading this article, I've made up my mind to untangle and organize those clutters. Thank you for these excellent pointers. :)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding this topic and I do hope that more home owners find time to reorganize their living spaces and not just their garages, but include the entire household to be able to check if there are areas in the house that already require repairs or addition. Problem occurs when we have to many things which are disorganized and we cannot even discern if it is still a garage or a storage space already.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEckhoff Construction

When we no longer have room for our things in the house, we often make use of the garage to store some of them. A garage becomes a parking area for our cars and a storage room in one. Regularly checking on various parts of our homes can save us the trouble of spending time and money for serious home repairs. The condition of our garages should be maintained and avoid piling things up in a disorganized manner because we might misplace some items. Not only do we need to focus on getting things organized in our garages but we should also check on the door and flooring if they are still in good condition. After all, our homes are our place of refuge away from work or and it would be nice to come home to cozy living space. Feel relief the moment your enter your car in your organized and well maintained garage.

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaster Tiler

There are so many organizing methods that we can make use to avoid cluuter - boxes, shelves to name a few. We can also schedule one or two weekends to set aside and do some cleanig and sorting for the things that we can already dispose and keep. If we want to improve or have an addition in the garage to make more room for the things or tools that we keep there, be sure to seek advice from your trusted contractor and inform him of the design that you want so that you get to come home to an organized household starting from where you park your car. In this way, space is maxmized and you will not misplace or lose things.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Drywall Co.

What great comments all of you have made. I appreciate the pro-active approach that many of your are talking about. Also there's the idea that to reach out for help when appropriate. Great suggestions. Thanks to all of you for stopping by and leaving your comments.

October 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

With clutter, things get misplaced and creates an eyesore whenever you arrive in your garage. Most of use this space for extra storage but we should not forget to put things in order or have shelves and cabinets built to be placed there. In this way, we will not lose any item and our garage will be custom built to fit our needs. Others just simply their things in the garage thinking that this will help them avoid any clutter at home but the thing is, the garage is also an essential part of the entire household as an entrance for our vehicles and we also need to keep this space organized.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCitadel Construction

Yes, our some precious moments spent with our loved ones give us joy forever. As you have told that you took lunch with your husband on riverside and made a lot of fun, I think after that day, whenever you go at same place, you will think about those moments and feel very happy.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAir Cargo Services

Thank you for stopping by and sharing in the conversation, Citadel Construction. It's true that keeping our garages organized cuts down on the visual clutter and also helps us to quickly find the items we are storing there.

November 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

You are right, Air Cargo Services that allowing the wonderful moments with our loved ones brings continued joy. Happy places with happy memories. Thank you for stopping by and joining our conversation.

November 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Its true that if our garage is so messy and things are all scattered around, it will probably be the worst part of our home. But when we decided to fix things up and organize, it can become our favorite place to be.

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergarage equipment

Garages can be used for a variety of reasons. It can be a storage area (not only for your cars) as well as an extra room if you wanted it to be. A messy garage is like a little black box of secrets though. It is always good to sort things out. You get to clear useless things, possibly useful things, as well as find the things you probably needed last week! Thanks for sharing your garage cleaning tips!

@garage equipment - Amazing what some "fixing up" can do. As you said, a worst spot can quickly become a "favorite place to be."

@Zbranek & Holt - Like your description that a messy garage can be like "a little black box of secrets." This is the perfect time of year to go into the box, keep the good "secrets" and clear out the ones that no longer serve a purpose.

Thank you both for stopping by and sharing.

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

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