Let’s investigate what usually lurks in garages: for starters, there should really be a car somewhere in there! Sadly, very often garages are so full of stuff that the car has been evicted a long time ago. That should be the first sign that something is clearly wrong with this picture: garages are for cars, not for storage! Of course, garages are for storage AS WELL, but that should be a practical use in addition to its main function which is parking a car in it!
What do we find typically in garages, then? In my experience, garages often hold some – if not all – of these following items:
Most of this is not organised in any way to allow for easy finding and retrieval either. Yes, of course, there are storage shelves and boxes, but those have usually been started on a wayward table that found its way to the garage and then expanded by adding shelves and boxes as needed, often half-hidden behind later arrivals, so that access is difficult or completely impossible. Most of the storage solutions fall under the description of clutter as well, rather than a thought-out organisational system.
Think! How much of this stuff are you likely to use? For one thing you may not even be aware it is in the garage: would you really look for out-of-season clothing there? What about the paint buckets?
I find that often the decline of a garage starts when someone puts a washing machine, dryer or freezer in the garage: all of those are bulky items and suddenly space is too narrow to properly get in and out of a car and it gradually stays outside more often. And now the heat is on: ‘Free space for all!’ it seems to proclaim, and suddenly anything goes, things can be dumped in any bit of open space. Do you recognise the pattern? It’s a space that does not serve as a ‘home’ for the car any longer, and it is now attracting things that should not be there in the first place.
Our minds register this space as an opportunity to put something down, and the thoughts go along the lines of “I’ll just put this one thing here, there still is room for the car”, or “The other [xyz] is already here, so I’ll just put this [xyz] right next to it” and similar. This is the beginning of the end. The lesson to be learned here is simple: make sure you don’t fall into the trap of wanting to fill the void or making use of it ‘for the time being’.
As for clearing a garage: make sure to start with purging things that have no place here and/or are clearly junk. Either move them to their proper place or throw them out. If you have decided to place things outside of your ‘real’ living space, you might as well go all the way and get rid of them. If you find things in the second row behind other stuff, it is very likely you have not used these things for a while and probably have no use for them at all.
Garages are tricky: they seem to give the ‘come hither’ sign to anything that has no other place in the house. Therefore, the most important strategy, especially for garages is to resist the urge to just dump anything that has no proper place elsewhere.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.