Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
With spring comes the desire (or necessity) for most people to be outdoors, caring for their outdoor spaces. Most of the things that are used in outdoor spaces are stored in the garage (or shed, or whatever you would like to call it).
Where I grew up, we used the garages for storing cars. Where I live now, with much milder winters, we use the garages for storage. And any space that size can get out of hand quickly.
Now let me throw in here that I do not touch my husband’s work bench or his supply cabinet. He keeps those in top order, and I never have to worry about clutter there. The rest of the garage, well, let’s just say it’s a free-for-all.
Here is how I organized my garage this spring:
Remove the Garbage
Every garage I’ve ever seen has its fair share of garbage. Some may look like garbage: big packages waiting to be broken down for recycling, big Styrofoam blocks that need to go out a bit at a time, or things waiting to be taken to the hazardous chemical processing site. In my garage we also have quite a few ragged pine cones (my daughter likes to rehabilitate them before setting them free in the wild), sticks, old pieces of wood and a pile of old glass.
As a first step, I took all of these things out and put them where they needed to go. A neighbor who was vacationing allowed me to put some things in their trashcan in exchange for me putting out the bin and fetching it back to the house on trash day. Chemicals went to the processor, packages into recycling (again, same arrangement with the neighbor), and the plant matter went into the big compost pile.
Remove the “I’m Going To…”
Also in our garage was a big pile of “I’m going to drop that at the thrift store/library resale shop/grocery store/freecycle”. These were put in the back of my car for immediate drop off. Other projects, waiting for the right time, were evaluated. We got rid of the camping lantern with the cracked glass. Out went the defunct icicle lights. Worn out and too-small shoes were gotten rid of.
Remove Expired Items
We have a lot of things in our garage that may expire or dry out. Old paint that was unusable. The organic herbicide that fed the weeds and killed the flowers. The poison ivy spray that didn’t kill the poison ivy anymore. The solid bottle of Gorilla Glue. These all needed special handling, so these were taken to the hazardous waste processor.
The two jars of peanut butter purchased in ’07 to make bird feeders went into the garbage. (Ick). Seeds purchased in the last century were tossed.
Put Like Things Together
Once the junk was out, I was better able to process what was there. Toys were put together, to see if there were missing parts. Camping gear was taken out and inventoried. (This should save us adding to the collection of gas bottles we seem to be accumulating).
If I had to organize nuts and bolts or tools, those would all be grouped together as well.
While I never saw the point of my grandmother washing her garage floor twice a year, I do take the broom to the garage rather regularly. Besides sweeping out all the leaves and pine needles that seem to gravitate to the corners, I take down the spider webs, sweep the steps, and remove other things, like the bird feathers the mourning dove left behind as we tried to get it to fly out the door. After sweeping, I run the Shop-Vac around to get the dirt out of the crevices.
We have a lot of pollen in our area, so I do wipe things down as well. The camp stove and beach gear are wiped just so they do not leave a trail of pollen when we take them somewhere.
While I am not a fan of boxes and bins in the house, in the garage I think they are necessary to corral stuff. I also like to put racks in the garage, much as I do in the house.
Our bikes are held up by a bike rack, which keeps the bikes in a specific area and upright and accessible. My husband’s racing bike is hung from a rack mounted on the wall, high enough up that I can get my car underneath.
We keep most everything on a set of sturdy shelves against one wall of the garage. On those shelves are the bins which hold toys, beach equipment, gardening implements, camping paraphernalia and others.
An old leaky flower pot in the corner of the garage holds gardening canes, and the opposite corner is one holding fishing rods.
A purchased a household caddy to hold my gardening supplies this year. In this plastic bin are my gloves, a weed puller, pruner, kneeling pad and a pair of scissors. Keeping these things together helps ensure the tools will not migrate away from where I want to use them.
I was surprised at how very little effort made such a difference in our garage. We can all find things easily now. And even though I know this process will have to be repeated at least twice a year (more if we have a hurricane and need to get both cars in the garage), it was very successful.
Photo by robertnelson