How long does it take to organize a garage? One day. No kidding.
If you are dreading this rite of summer, stop fretting. All you need is a plan. Whether it has one, two, or three bays, one day is all a garage deserves. Get in, get organized, and get on with your life. Here’s how.
1. Make your plan. Before moving anything, decide or discuss with your family what you need your garage to do for you. Is parking the car in garage the goal? Must you store trash bins, sports gear, or an extra freezer? Do you have the right type and amount of storage and shelving? Can you store pool gear and seasonal furniture? If your house lacks a mudroom, would your life be easier if there were lockers and a drop off point before entering the house? Is there a high ceiling where you can add a loft for storage? As much as possible, purchase containers and organizing gear in advance so you’ll have them on hand during the job. If you follow my advice regularly, you might be surprised to hear me recommend that. Unlike other organizing projects, however, it pays to have all of your items on hand before you start so you can finish a garage project in just one day. Be sure to schedule a trash container or charity pickup if you might need one.
2. Meet up with the family. I almost always have staff and multiple family members involved in a garage project. The larger or more cluttered the space, the more people I try to have on a job. Recruit a professional and as many family members as you can.
3. Methodically work around the space. Start in one corner of the garage, sort by moving one item at a time out into the driveway or yard, creating piles or stacks of similar items. Label each pile so everyone knows what it is. I recently organized a typical two-car suburban garage, and at the midway point some Jehovah’s Witnesses came up the driveway and remarked on our apparent garage sale. Although it may seem like a lot of work to move everything out only to move it back in, it must be done. Only when the garage was clear could we re-position the wall hooks, fix shelving that needed repair, and move large items to better spots. By the way, this is the hardest step for my clients. They tend to get sidetracked with errands, phone calls, wanting to clean the garage before it is empty, and discussions about where things need to be stored inside the house. All of these activities will sabotage your one-day plan. When empty, assess your garage for the next step.
4. Move back in using zones. Typically children’s toys and bikes should be located on the side with the least traffic or closest to the yard. Extra appliances and food items should be stored close to the house entry. Items that are almost never used can be stored in a loft or in the space above the garage doors (if you don’t decide to donate them). Set off each zone with color, signage, chalk boards, or labeled storage bins or shelves. You might have categories like cleaning chemicals, paint, car maintenance gear, tools, sports gear, trash bins, brooms and mops, and gardening supplies.
5. Make mine a mojito. Tidy up by sweeping the floor and shaking out or replacing the mat that leads into the house. Label shelving with a label maker, masking tape and permanent marker, or hang tags from an office supply store, which work great on wire shelving. Haul the trash to the curb. Tarp the pile for donation. Pull the car back in the garage. And pour yourself a drink in celebration.
How long did your last garage organizing project take?
Now that you’ve seen this, can tackle yours in one day?