Professional organizer’s guide to garage organization
“My garage has become a dumping ground and now I can’t find the things I really need.”
“The garage feels overwhelming to me at this point.”
If either of these statements are true for you, as they are for many people I talk to, then you are in luck! With the weather cooling off a little bit, this is the perfect time to organize your garage.
Get Organized Already has the best team in town, but maybe you don’t live in our town. Or maybe your family needs a weekend project to do together. Going through memorabilia in a garage is actually a really fun opportunity for family bonding.
Whatever the case, here are the basic steps to garage organization according to our team’s many years of experience.
Set aside twice as much time as you think it will take. Then add on an hour the following day to take all the donations and waste away. You may also need to set aside time to call for heavy pick-up or list sale items on Craig’s List.
Before you start:
Think about what you want the garage or room to be used for. Give it a purpose in your mind or set a goal such as, “We want the camping gear to be easy to access.” This small intention will help you more than you might think.
Designate a big space in the yard or driveway where you will sort your stuff into categories. Gather trash bins and trash bags for donations. If your garage is mainly full of things you wouldn’t donate (because they are in such bad shape), consider renting a dumpster. They are under $200 for a week.
However, you cannot put construction materials in a dumpster. You need to call a service to remove construction materials. (I recommend 1-800-GOT-JUNK because they are the nicest!)
protip: Never buy organizing supplies (boxes, bins, etc.) until after you purge. Treat shopping as the reward for purging if that works for you. 95% of the time, you will be able to use the supplies you already have.
Start in one corner of your space and move systematically around the room.
Put things into general categories (kids, memorabilia, tools, etc.) in the yard/driveway as you go. When our team does a garage we make exceptions for large items or areas which are already well organized. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just leave those things where they are and keep moving around the room.
protip: Label the piles on the ground to keep everyone on the same page. If the piles are labeled (with blue painter’s tape or 3×5 cards) you can say things like
“Put that wagon in the for sale section,”
instead of having to walk over to the for sale section and point it out to the people who are helping you. This small luxury of being able to point instead of walk will add up over the day.
protip: When a donation bag gets full, put it straight into your car.
Scheduling with friends:
Trick 1-2 organized friends into coming over to “hang out” that day. Then take them out to a delicious lunch at break time.
Start early in the morning and take a break after about 3 hours. You’ll know it’s time to break when you pick up the same 4 objects repeatedly and your eyes start to glaze over.
Break and re-group:
It’s time for lunch! Determine if you need plastic bins, shelves, hooks or other storage solutions. Make a list that includes measurements and even pictures of where the items will go. Take lunch and go buy only what you need. If you don’t need to go to the store, donate what’s in your car on your way to lunch. Getting away from the project is important — especially for an all-day extravaganza like a garage.
This part goes faster, so pump yourself up to get everything back in your space.
Put the categories back together with least used things in the back and popular stuff up front.
Label all containers that aren’t obvious. For spaces with multiple users, label the shelf as well so people know where to put things back when they are done. GENIUS.
Get yourself a treat. You did it! Take an after photo and send it to me.