Best Organizing Tips for Dad: Part 3

If there’s one area of the home that is almost universally claimed by dads, it’s the garage. It’s also the one area where organizing can be its most challenging: it’s a big space and a lot goes on there! In the last post of my series, Best Organizing Tips for Dad, I’m here to help you stop the madness, organize the mayhem and reclaim your garage.

I must confess: our garage is not organized – it is our big summer project (actually, a Father’s Day gift to my husband) and I’ll share our progress as we make headway. It was once beautiful . . . but then life happens. A baby is born, a room is converted and possessions get kicked to the garage. Construction begins and closets have to be cleared out. Sports gear multiplies and is never given a thorough edit. Just wanted to let you know: I’m with you here!


Why did it get this way?
Why does a garage become a wreck? I call it the Garage Graveyard. Anything that has no further purpose in the home gets relegated to the garage. So it becomes a dumping ground that only gets bigger and bigger.


What can be done to fix it?
Stop before you drop! Before something gets moved to the garage, ask yourself why you’re keeping it: is it a seasonal item, are you challenged on space inside the home or are you keeping it . . . just in case?

The “just in case” answer is often your most guilty culprit: if you can let go of the fear that life can go on without having that item in your possession – that you can borrow it from a friend, purchase it again, or better yet, find you never need it again – your space will be yours again. And you won’t be held hostage by a fear that is keeping you from your goal of an organized garage.


When can we roll up our sleeves and get to work?
Give yourself plenty of time to organize a garage. It’s a big space that holds a lot of stuff and trying to squeeze it into a few hours will be frustrating and, at worst, discourage you from hunkering down to get the job done. Dedicating a few hours a day over a week, or better yet, a full weekend, would be best – and asking for help from a spouse, older child or friend will not only make the process more manageable, it will make it more fun. You’ll also have a sounding board and a conscience to help you make decisions on what to keep and what should go.


How do we organize the space?
Before doing anything, what is your vision for your garage? Create a crystal clear picture of what you want your garage to be so you can work towards that goal (and drown out the pesky “just in case” mantra).

With your vision in mind, now you can organize the space. Julie Morgenstern’s mnemonic SPACE organizing method is a great way to walk you through the process:


Step 1: Sort

Pull everything out of the garage. As you do, quickly sort items into “keep,” “donate” or “toss” piles. You can designate each of those large categories with chalk on the driveway or tarps on the ground. Within the “keep” pile, sort like with like: garden tools, sports gear, outdoor toys, holiday decorations, and so on.

Step 2: Purge

Now that you can see what you own of each “keep” category, do another pass and see if you can let anything go. Frosty the Snowman hasn’t made it out for the last 3 Christmases? Send him on his way. You have 3 brooms but only use one? Sweep out the other two.

Step 3: Assign a Home

At this stage, you should have a good idea of what you own and what you want to store in your garage. Now it’s time to zone the space so items that are used most frequently get “prime real estate” while lesser used items (like holiday decorations) are put on higher shelves, or farther away. As you zone your garage, consider the size of each category and how much space you’ll need: one shelf, one cabinet or an entire wall of storage? Can you hang garden tools along a wall? Is there room for overhead storage for seasonal sports gear or holiday decorations? Getting things up off the floor is a key strategy to organizing a garage.



A Beautiful Mess


Step 4: Containerize

Now that you’ve mapped out your zones and figured out the amount of space needed for each category, you can determine what kind of storage container would be best for that space. Measure height, width and depth of shelving so you can get bins that will maximize the space.


Bowl Full of Lemons

Step 5: Equalize

One of the key steps of organizing is maintaining the systems you’ve established. Now that your garage is organized, it’s your turn (and your family’s turn!) to put things back where they belong, keep items from “migrating” to other spaces and, finally, to review your belongings and edit on a frequent basis.

So, Dad, I hope these tips help you get your garage into shape so you can reclaim your domain and enjoy a fun summer ahead!

For added inspiration, check out these great videos with tips and before-and-after makeover scenes you’ll have to see to believe!

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