Did you know that 25 percent of all Americans have so much clutter in their garage that they can’t store even one car inside? And 33 percent say that they don’t even know for sure what’s stored in their garage.
Based on 14 years experience helping people get their homes organized, I can make a pretty good guess about what is taking a lot of space, and that’s boxes. Yes, boxes. Boxes that may be empty except for some packing material.
How does this happen? Every time we buy a new computer, printer, toaster oven, microwave or other item, we save the box, just in case we need to return it A few years later, we may upgrade to a better version of that item. We keep that box, and we might put the old item in the garage too, just in case we need a backup.
Does this this sound like you? If so, join the club. I do the same thing. It seems to be part of the normal American lifestyle. This behavior makes sense at the time. Years later we may realize we are leaving our expensive car out in the weather while protecting our empty boxes and old equipment and wonder . . . how the heck did this happen?
There is a way we can take back control of our space; every few years we need to find out what’s in the garage! The most efficient approach is to take everything out and only put back what we really want to keep. Sounds easy enough, right?
But if you haven’t emptied your garage in 20-some years and your weather, like mine, tends to be rainy, emptying the whole garage out onto a cold, wet driveway doesn’t sound like such a good idea. And hours to get it all out, hours to get it back in.
So, let’s get realistic. Approach the garage with the intention of locating items that are taking up the most room and are easy to deal with. Pull out all the cardboard boxes and flatten them. Donate old items you haven’t used in five years to your favorite charity or thrift store. There are many sites which recycle electronic equipment in a way that is protective of the environment. Neatly stack the boxes you are keeping, perhaps on shelves you have installed for the purpose. Shelving frees up floor space. Be sure to label each box, in the same place for ease of visibility, with a fat, black magic marker. Major categories will work: Halloween, Fourth of July, linens, books, toys, souvenirs, camping, etc.
Just setting a certain amount of time for a couple of weekends could make a significant impact on the newly made space in the garage. Don’t get sidetracked with reminiscing about items you find and reading materials you discover. Set them aside and focus on locating items that are taking up the most room. Once sorted, keep items that you use regularly in an easy to access area and things you don’t use as often in other areas of the garage.
Don’t try to do too much at one time; maybe set a timer for an hour and see what you can accomplish. An hour or two a week will help you gradually reclaim all that space that you could be using for something which actually improves your life. Chose to surround yourself with items you care about.
And let us know if we can be of any help; doing a project with a helper goes faster and tends to be more fun. We would love to hear from you; we enjoy being of service.