beginning garage organizing.

quiltgloFebruary 25, 2006

For the past 9 weeks I've been helping a friend de-junk and reclaim her home for three mornings a week. It's been going very well since we have been slowly moving through the home, and she has been able to maintain the spaces.

We've hit a snag, where we really need some staging space and the garage seems most logical to me. They haven't parked in the garage for years, but looking at pics of other homes, it's really not that bad.

You have to remember we are in the dead of winter here, so just opening the garage door and loading up thrift store stuff is a bit daunting. Just hauling out a couple of large bags every day didn't seem too bad.

I was thinking it might be easier to try and claim three corners. One trash, one give away and one for "we need it and will get to it."

The trash can go out in 3 large bags weekly, except some items are going to be big enough they will need to be hauled to the dump. The give away stuff is now starting to get large items like a table. We aren't ready to add on the stress of dealing with Freecycle right now since my friend runs a business and has three small kids. Trying to link up with that can be frustrating, so we'd rather call a pick up service for a thrift shop.

I think it's causing her some anxiety that we would actually be working out there without the same type of focus we have used in the house, which had been a dramatic throw it away or give it away approach. But now with things like old TV's and computers we need some time to deal with them and yet get them out of the prime living space.

I think we can stage in this garage for the next two month and then when we get a bit of warm weather get the necessary stuff out and start organizing the keeper stuff.

Am I missing something in my approach? Should we just do the garge organzation and then deal with the leftover items in the house? If we do that, it means a committment of hauling a van full to the thrift store everyday, rather than being able to call for a pick up.


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You're a good friend to your friend, but you're moving too slowly for me! LOL If I want something OUT, then I want it out NOW. (Nobody has ever accused me of having patience.)

Organizations that pick up in our area have a maximum limit, not a minimum limit, so I would suggest scheduling several pickups or continuing with the daily thrift store trips. A guy at work found that out the hard way, having filled his garage, scheduled a pick-up, and found out they wouldn't take everything at once.

I'm confused on why you would want a staging area for "deal with it later" junk. Wouldn't it be better to find a spot for it immediately, or get rid of it? I understand the concept of freeing the prime living space, but moving it from one place to another doesn't sound like an improvement. Yes, the garage is cold, so why move junk out there? Can organizing the garage wait until better weather while you continue to concentrate on the house? If you avoid adding to the garage junk, then you have done no harm.

Doing a little bit at a time, and dealing with it immediately, might be a better approach... because then when you're done organizing, you're really done!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 7:00AM
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Sigh. Maybe it would be better just to hit the garage and then move stuff out. It's a heated garage, so we can work comfortably in there. The shelves in the garage are just filled with whatever, so item they need to keep like bike helmets, etc. we can't put away yet. That's what I mean by a put away later pile.

Our thrift stores are kind of like Sears. They'll be there some time between 8-5 and neither of us have a day we can wait on them. Like today, we woke up to snow, so we won't have the ability to just pile things outside for them for a couple of months. Spring comes late here.

I just think I've hit a bit of a stumbling block since we will need a trip to the dump off, large stuff for give away and even a day for the toxic waste spot for the paint.

Maybe if we lumped those things together and got it on the calendar we could get that much gone. We only have an hour and a half, four mornings a week. The slowness has really been helpful in this case. As we've gone through each zone, she's been able to start maintaining those spaces. If we had done everything in one big push, I don't think the family could have adapted.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 4:50PM
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I think your plan sounds good.

It'll keep the in-house momentum going, perhaps? If you don't spend TOO much time out there in the garage? Maybe just divide the garage stuff into the same 3 categories?

One possible advantage of moving "deal w/ it later" stuff into that corner of the garage: When you *do* deal w/ it later, she might find that she doesn't want to bother with it after all.

And the one big pitfall: losing momentum and never dealing w/ the "deal w/ it later" stuff, so that it becomes a permanent installation.

What a good friend you are! I bet she's glad of the encouragement and the company.

I like your point about the gradual improvement being easier to adapt to. And if the garage isn't too bad compared with other folks', I bet she'll do OK once she's all set up. I think there are lots of people for whom being disorganized is largely a result of not having time or energy to devote to getting there in the first place.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 10:31PM
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I think there are lots of people for whom being disorganized is largely a result of not having time or energy to devote to getting there in the first place.

I agree! There's also the way clutter creeps up on you when you're not paying attention, and you're crowded by clutter before you know it. Especially "dead people clutter" (clutter bequeathed you by dead people) which was MY big problem.

I think most people do just fine maintaining once they recognize clutter and realize that clutter can and should be removed from a home. My personal thanks go to FlyLady for that!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2006 at 9:28AM
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OK, we began on the garage yesterday. Our goal was only two bags of trash.

I decided we really needed to go ahead and work in this direction, because as we were getting things out of living spaces, we were not always ready to run the stuff to the give away spot. We were getting things like extra canned goods from the pantry that need to go to the food bank, etc. It's going to take some planning to get some of this gone.

I had told my friend her garage was really not all that bad, the main problem was there wasn't any type of path so that the trash could get organized. Even if it's unorganized, it still needs to be usable space in the house.

40 minutes later we had 3 cans of trash ready. A give away corner that we felt comfortable we would get to later. A corner set up for the stuff needing to stay in the garage, but needing organizing (bike helmets, hoses, bikes, paint, etc.)

The sense of accomplishment was quick. We now have an easily identified area for trash so when trash day comes her DH will know exactly what to take to the curb. The stairs out of the house into the garage are totally clear so that it is not longer an effort to walk the trash out.

I think it was a good boost for the energy level, since it was one of those times where it looked really different in a short amount of time. That helps it not feel like such a big chore after working so hard for so many weeks.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 4:28PM
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You made a good move to start the garage, especially if it was so cluttered that a "path" was an improvement.

I definitely agree--a quick sense of accomplishment is always a big enthusiasm booster!

One of my personal downfalls is that I'm great at the big stuff, but not so great at the little stuff that doesn't make a major impact.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2006 at 6:58AM
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sounds really great--those energy boosts from a quick, dramatic fix are really terrific. And the communication benefits, so her DH can help easily, is terrific too.

I hope your friend will be a great reference when you start your own business!

I thinkmost garages are likethat; they are really often VERY disorganized, and a simple set of shelves and some labels (even if they're mental and not physical) and resorting can be really dramatic.

Your friend must feel so energized and hopeful!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 12:31PM
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I am in Northeast Ohio. We have an 84 yr. old detached garage. Since it was over 55 degrees here today, the kids wanted me to hang their swings.

(I've drilled holes up in the door frame of garage doors and screwed in eye screws, so all we have to do is clip on carabiners attached to swings and we have a space/budget saving swingset. Though my daredevil 5.5 boy discovered his hair touches the rolled up garage door today. He's grown.)

I worked on decluttering the side of the garage we pull into in the winter. I'm telling you, the van barely fits through the wood frame of this old garage.

I realized I have changed through the years. I had to get rid of junk that I bought or was given or saved throughout the years. I don't buy much anymore (having a couple of our own garage sales changed my acquisition habits, too), I have learned to say no thanks to free offers, and I recycle or freecycle often.

Next nice day that coincides with a decluttering mood (if only I could predict) I'll tackle the storage side: bikes, sports/play equipment, lawn furniture, etc..

My husband's stuff sits. Wish he'd catch the bug. But he has a hard time with decisions and always thinks what if..., maybe one day..., wonder if so-and-so might like this...

But must confess, if I just focus on clearing the stuff I've brought into our lives, the garage gets more spacious quite quickly. Hmmmm....

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 5:35PM
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Hey jcs...I used to be from Youngstown, anywhere near you?. I've given up on the garage. I used to keep it organized and clean until the men in my house took it over and have filled it with car parts and tools. There is just enough room for my car in there. The other day I tripped over some wood and I pitched a fit. Within a couple of days it was cleaned up but...It won't be the same until DH gets another job and DS gets his car projects out. I guess if I had to choose I'd keep the men. LOL

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 6:54PM
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Julie - Had to chuckle over the "dead people clutter". I held on to Mom's paperwork for years, thinking "what if an audit by IRS" paranoia! She had bought and sold several homes during her life, DS and I inherited a mortgage she held, etc. Finally, after 12 years, I spent a whole day shredding all of it, tax returns, real estate docs, estate stuff. What a relief. On another day, I shredded our old (over 10 years old) returns, checks and backup related to them, everything except former house docs. I put the rest of it out in the shed and told DH that if the "revenuers" come for it, tell them the mice ate it all :-)


    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 6:37AM
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I agree with jcs7... saying NO to free stuff has really helped slow down the clutter collection here. DH is still having a problem letting go. If someone gave us something, he feels we have to keep it forever (hence the non-working table saw in the garage, and I know for sure it belonged to at least 2 families before us, and I don't think it started out being a table saw in the first place).

Carol, isn't it great to get that dead people clutter out of your house?! MY FIL's "dead person paperwork" is still here, but at least it's confined to one (huge) rubbermaid bin after almost 6 years. Funny story in case you haven't heard it---my SIL was getting divorced and her husband was trying to fight for his "share" of the inheritance. To prove that her father (my FIL) wanted his SIL to get the money, her husband's lawyer subpoened her dad. Did the lawyer totally MISS THE POINT? He was dead--that's how she got the inheritance!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 7:58AM
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I can see it now. The movie 'Sixth Sense' gets remade. Instead of a little boy seeing dead people, the heroine sees dead people's clutter...Oh, and we do have our share in this house! LOL

    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 11:34AM
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My husband still has two boxes of stuff since his mother died in January 2005. Some old Medicare statements,stuff like that. I wish he would chuck it! No way can a doctor send a bill at this late date!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 8:23AM
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