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Reduce Garage Stress: A 3 Step Guide to Organising Your Garage

Does your garage look more like an overcrowded storage unit than a place to store the car? Are you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated every time you enter the garage? Do you struggle to find the things you need? 

 

If this sounds like you then keep reading?

 

Today, I'm going to share with you why it's crucial to have an organised garage. I'm also going to give you a plan on how to organise your garage and keep it that way. 

 

Reduce Your Stress Levels: The Importance of Having an Organised Garage

 

It's common for most people to store all their unwanted household items in the garage. After all, most people spend very little time in their garage.  

 

In my experience.

 

A cluttered and disorganised garage may be impacting your mental wellbeing.  

 

Here's why? 

 

Clutter and disorganisation cause stress. And while you may only be spending a small amount of time in your garage each day, this short exposure to clutter can impact your mood for the whole day and can harm your mental health. 

 

Take a moment to think about your garage and write down how it makes you feel. If you have positive feelings, that's great if however, you feel stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, it's time to make a change. 

 

Remember

 

Every time you go to your car, it means you have somewhere to be, whether it's work, shopping or catching up with family or friends. And when you are doing these activities, you want to make sure you are in a positive state of mind.  Likewise, at the end of a busy day, wouldn't you rather drive into a calm and stressfree garage than one that is chaotic?   

Recently I was working with a client who was living with clutter and disorganisation in their garage. The garage contained children's toys, broken appliances and random stuff scattered throughout. The state of the garage was impacting their mental health, they advised that every time they entered the garage, they felt overwhelmed, stressed and hated going into it.  We worked together to organise the garage, and once we completed it, my client advised they loved driving into their organised garage. And more importantly, they no longer felt the stress and overwhelm they experienced with the cluttered and disorganised space.   

 

By the way.

 

It's not just the mental health impacts that make it essential to organise your garage; there can also be risks to your physical health.  Too many items placed along the side walls can often be a tripping hazard. There is also a risk of things falling on you, causing injury. And don't forget pest and other creepy crawlies hiding amongst the clutter.

 

Let's improve your health by getting your garage organised.

 

Obtain Garage Organising Success by Setting an Organising Goal.

 

The first thing you want to establish before you start to organise your garage is your goal? A garage organising goal might be:

 

1. Being able to drive your car in the garage. 
2. Reduce your stress levels every time you enter the garage. 
3. Have space to do your DIY projects.

 

Also, think about how you want to feel when you enter your garage. Do you want to feel calm, relaxed, etc.? Identify what might be some of the challenges to achieving this goal and what might you be able to do to overcome them.  Now that you have that goal in mind, it's time to start working on the garage, following my three step process.


Step 1. Get Space Back into Your Garage: Declutter Your Garage First

 

1a. Set Yourself up for Success by Having a Declutter Plan

 

What is a declutter plan?

 

A decluttering plan involves having a strategy of how and where you are going to dispose of unwanted items? 

 

Why is this important?


People's organising journey will quickly come to a halt because they don't know how to dispose of unwanted items. Your declutter plan will vary depending on the type of content housed in your garage. Some tips for disposing of unwanted items include:

 

  • Getting a skip/ bin and simply placing all unwanted items in it (the big bang approach) for example: 1800 Got Junk

  • Identify some local charities that would love your unwanted items

  • Give things to friends or family. Only do this if they have a genuine interest in the articles. Avoid giving your unwanted items to people who don't want them.

  • Dispose of things at your local recycling/ transfer station. I have one near me in Port Melbourne. Check out your local council website to find yours and to confirm what items they can take. 

  • Sell your items. This process can be time-consuming but significant if you need extra cash. 

Let me know in the comments below if you have any others. 


Now that you know where unwanted items are going to go, let the decluttering begin. 

 

1b. Speed the Decluttering Process up by Creating a Workspace 

If the opportunity allows identify or clear an area in the garage (and/or outside) to set up as a workspace. You may need to move items to another location to create this space temporally. Based on your decluttering plan, set up a section for all of your declutter categories, for example:

  • Donate

  • Recycle

  • Give (Family or Friends)

Placing signs or the wall can make it easier to identify where these items need to go quickly. You can use my declutter signs by clicking the link below. 

 

Creating Positive Spaces Declutter Signs

 

Having a workspace will make it easier and quicker to sort through your items.

 

1c. Get Quick Results by Finding Some Quick Wins

 
The thought of decluttering your garage can be overwhelming, after all, it can be a big task, especially if you have a large number of items to sort through. If you are finding decluttering the garage overwhelming start by identifying some quick wins. Simply scan the garage and identify items that you no longer need, for example:

 

  • Items that are broken, e.g. appliances/furniture. You will be surprised at how much space they take up.

  • Things that you need to return to family or friends.

  • Stuff you no longer need, e.g. old bikes and sporting equipment. 

  • While quick wins are designed to be fast, you will be surprised at how much space you can clear just by removing them and how much better you will feel. 

 

When I worked on my client's garage, we identified two quick wins an old chest of drawers and a broken dryer just by removing these two items the garage looked and felt so much better, and it gave us the space to work. And instantly, my client felt better for doing so. 

 

 

 1d. Create Some More Garage Space! Declutter Even Further

Now that you have identified and decluttered some quick wins (it's okay if you didn't find any quick wins) you need to assess the remaining items.  If you are finding the whole process overwhelming pick a section (e.g. the workbench) or theme  (e.g. sporting equipment) and only focus of that section first. 

 

As you begin to sort through items start to question are you storing items you will most likely never use again. The garage has the reputation of storing items that people have no desire to use again, for example:

  • Kid toys that the children have outgrown. 

  • Old appliances that may still work but will never get used. 

  • Furniture that has become outdated.

  • Assess whether these items still deserve a space in your life.

 

Declutter Tip
If you come across old paints and other chemicals, be careful when handling them. Chemicals may leak so always wear gloves when handling them. Visit your local council website for ways you can dispose of unwanted chemicals.   

 

 

1e. Start to Get Things in Order: Group  Similar Items Together as You Declutter  

As you start to declutter items start to group similar items together. For example: 

  • Tools/ power tools 

  • Garden tools and supplies 

  • Car equipment/car care products 

  • Sporting equipment/bikes 

  • BBQ / BBQ supplies 

This will help to identify the types of items you have and will assist in the organising process. 

 

1F. Create Some More Space By Eliminating Duplicates 

One of the good things about grouping similar items together is that you start to identify whether you have duplicate items. Duplicate items take up space, and if you do have a high volume of duplicate items consider keeping the best one (or two) and discard the rest. 

 

Once you have identified your unwanted items, you should remove them from the garage as soon as possible as this will help you free up space and you will feel so much better for it. 

 

Now that you have decluttered it's time to move on to the next stage organising. 

 

Step 2.  Always Find What You Are Looking For: Organise Your Garage 

 

2a.  Make Life Easier by Organising Similar Items Together

By grouping similar items together, you will be able to create zones in your garage.  The benefits of zoning are it will make it easier to locate items when you need them and put them away once you are done.

 

Start to assess the items you have left in the garage and identify some potential zones. You may have already started to identify zones during the declutter process.  Zones can be created by type, for example (chemicals) or by activity (washing the car). Some potential zones for the garage can include:

 

  • Garden supplies and garden tools.  Especially if you do not have a garden shed.

  • Car care and car supplies. Keeping car products together will make it easier to access what you need when it's time to wash or repair the car.

  • Sporting equipment such as balls, bikes etc. can all be grouped together. You may group items together based on activity, e.g. tennis, cricket etc.

  • Camping equipment/ seasonal items.  

  • Tools and power tools, you may group them by tool type, e.g. hand tools or power tools.  

Once you have identified your core groups, you need to start thinking about where they are going to live. 

 

2b. Maximise Your Garage Space by Planning Your Layout 

Before you embark on planning the layout of your garage, drive your car into it. Once the vehicle is inside, use masking tape to outline where the car goes with the doors open. Creating this outline will help you to determine the amount of space your vehicle needs and how much space you have left to store items.

 

When it comes to the layout of your garage, you have three core locations: 

 

  1. The garage back wall/ corners 

  2. The garage side walls 

  3. The garage ceiling 

Let's explore these in more detail but note that these tips will vary depending on the size and design of your garage.

 

The Garage Back Wall/ Corners 

Utilise the back walls/corners of the garage for bulkier items. Storing bulkier items at the back will help to free up space along the side walls. Keeping the side walls as clear as possible is essential if you have a small garage as it will make it easier for people to enter and exit the car.

 

Possible back wall storage option.

 

If you love your DIY, then a great place to have a workbench is in the back corner of the garage. It will give you the space to work without the feeling of being enclosed by the car. Store all your hardware and tools in storage above or below the bench. This will give you quick and easy access to the things you need when you are tackling that DIY project. 

 

The Garage Side Walls

Garage side walls work well for smaller/ slimmer items such as bikes and other sporting equipment, garden tools. Depending on the height of the garage, there is the opportunity to install shelving on the top part of the walls. How much you store along the side walls depends strongly on the width of the garage.  Remember you want to be able to quickly and safely enter and exit the car. 

 

The Garage Ceiling  
You can save a lot of space in the garage by utilising the ceiling for storage. There are some great DIY options out there and if the budget allows obtaining the services of a qualified tradesperson to help you design and build ceiling storage.

 

Safety Tip
Make sure that your ceiling storage is safe and secure. There is a potential risk of items falling if items are not secure. Likewise, don't load more things than the storage can handle as this may cause it to collapse, causing damage and injury. Again it's recommended to engage a qualified tradesperson to help with design and installation. 

Final safety tip, make sure your items are not too heavy or bulky that it becomes too difficult to store things. Items stored in the ceiling need to be easily taken up and brought down when required.

 

Bonus Layout Tip 1

When thinking about your layout, consider how often you use items. Frequently used items should always be in easy reach, whereas less commonly used items may be stored in high-level shelving or in the ceiling. For example, if you ride your bike daily, make sure it's easily accessible and perhaps locate it next to the door? Seasonal items such as camping equipment, Christmas decorations, might be better stored on high-level shelving or in the ceiling. 

 

Bonus Layout Tip 2
Always consider your physical challenges. If you are short, store commonly used items in high shelving might not be the best approach. Or if you suffer from back pain, you may want to avoid storing items too low.  

 

Now that you have thought about the layout, it's time for storage. 

 

2d: Find the Best Garage Storage Solutions to Meet Your Needs 

The list of garage storage options is endless. I think we have all gone down that rabbit hole that is Pinterest. Below are some of my garage storage ideas, recommendations and things to consider.

 

Vertical Storage 
I love vertical storage, and if I can hang something, then I will. You can utilise ranks, hooks, shelving and pegboards for hanging tools, bikes and sporting equipment. A great benefit of using vertical storage is it will make the most of the space that often goes unused and will free up a lot of floor space. 

 

Cabinets and Shelving 
Cabinets and shelves can be inbuilt, free-standing or a combination of both. Cabinets with doors can hide items that aren't visually appealing like car products, chemicals, paints, etc. However, if you are a visual person or if you have memory challenges, then having items on shelves may make it easier to locate what you need quickly.

 

Containers and Toolboxes 
Use plastic containers to store similar items together, such as Christmas decorations, gardening supplies etc. Toolboxes work well for tools and other hardware equipment. I tend to prefer tubs and containers with lids as these prevent dust from entering, keeping items clean and tidy.   

 

Labelling
Don't forget to label. Labelling is crucial to help you remember where things are and also to make it easier to know where to put things back. A standard label maker can work for items that are nearby, but for things that may not be stored at eye level using a black marker and masking tape can also work well. 

 

Step 3.  Never Have a Disorganised Garage Again: Maintenance Is the Key

Organising is not a one time process, and you will need to do some maintenance from time to time. But don't worry, it doesn't have to be painful. Here are some of my strategies for maintaining an organised garage.

 

3a. Everyday Maintenance
Everyday maintenance involves developing the practice of ensuring that each item goes back in its place. Which is why zoning is essential as it makes maintenance easier as everything has a home and you can quickly identify where things belong.

 

3b. One in One out Rules
The one in one rule means that when you introduce a new item into the garage, an existing object has to go. For example, if you upgrade your bike, consider selling your old one. The one in one out principle will help you to ensure your garage doesn't overflow with items again.  

 

3c. Ongoing Maintenance 
Make it a habit to review the items in your garage twice a year. You can align your garage review with your local hard rubbish collection which for many areas is twice a year. This way, you have a strategy for disposing of unwanted items, and it's free.


If you are feeling stressed every time you enter and exit the garage, you can remove that stress by spending some time to declutter and organise your garage. Establish your organising goal and having a plan on how you are going to dispose of unwanted items will help you stay focused. If you are finding the process overwhelming start with some quick wins or only focus on one area at a time. Group items based on common themes and storing them together will make it easier to find what you need. Plan your layout to identify the best place to store things and consider storage solutions that meet your needs. Once your garage is sorted, ensure you schedule in some maintenance sessions to ensure your garage stays organise. 

 

If you are still finding it difficult, why not give me a call on 0401 149 185 or send me an email at joey@creatingpositivespaces.com.au to discuss how we can work together to get your garage sorted.  

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