How to De-Clutter Your Home
A Pack Rat’s Anonymous Meeting
By Guy Sheely, Senior Storage Consultant, Pine Creek/Belle Springs Storage
Can you park your car in the garage?
If you have a 2 car garage- can you get both vehicles in there? Or, when the cars are in, can you only get out on 1 side? Or maybe you can’t get to the stuff in your garage when the cars are in there?
For most people, the garage is the most unorganized room in their home. A recent study revealed that at least half of surveyed homeowners rated their garages as the most disorganized place in the house.
We are going to go over some organization basics that you can apply to any room in your house, but in my years of storage consulting with Pine Creek, the garage seems to be the worst room in the house when it comes to being disorganized. Tackling an unorganized garage-or any room- is lot like an intervention of a crisis situation. Years of being a pack rat is starting to cause havoc on your family’s life.
So let’s get this intervention started!
First, get the whole family involved. Use bribery like a Pizza Lunch…or a fun reward when you are all done- can be the incentive you need to get the whole family involved. Set a date aside on the calendar. Involve your children and make up a game with prizes for the one who can find the oldest, dirtiest throwaway etc. This is essential to success as everyone in the home has some level of attachment to the items that are living there.
If you have so much stuff, move your car outside for the weekend and use the floor space in your garage. And if you have A LOT OF STUFF-this could take 2 weekends. Set aside enough time for this project by picking back-to-back days like a weekend so that sorted items do not have to sit in piles for too long. Be prepared with needed supplies. You may need plastic storage bins, permanent markers for labeling and many, many large garbage bags. Place one in the middle of your working space so that everyone can reach it. Start with a general purging of everything in your path.
Start with 4 Piles…
Pile 1: Trash
Pile 2: Sell or Donate
Pile 3: Keep
Pile 4: Move
It”s really important that you create enough space to have these 4 separate piles. For bigger items, pick up some of those colored dots from Staples- red dots mean Trash, Blue mean sell/donate, yellow means keep. You can use these on larger items, but don’t be lazy and say you are going to do it for everything.
Pile #1: Trash…
The first step is to toss what you no longer want or use. If this includes old car batteries, car parts or used oil, be sure to take them to a recycling center for safe disposal that won’t pollute the environment. If you stumble across old toys or sports equipment that are in good shape but are no longer being used, move them to the Sell/Donate pile and drop them off at a local charity so other kids can enjoy them. Items that are outdated, faded, broken or otherwise unusable can often be dumped. If you don’t want it, and you don’t know anyone else who wants it, dump it today. You’ll be freeing your space–and your mind!
5 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Clutter
When did I last use this item? If you haven’t used it in the last year, chances are your not going to in the next. Allow yourself to purge old items, interest, hobbies, and unfinished projects to allow room for the really important parts of your life.
Am I going to need this item on a specific date in the future?
If it doesn’t have a definite date of use, the clutter isn’t worth it.
Does this item have a legal or tax purpose?
Paper can be our worst clutter enemy and we often use the excuse of the legal and tax purposes associated with a thirty year collection of receipts. Go through your papers and keep only items that are really needed.
How hard would it be to replace this item again someday if I needed it?
If items are priceless emotionally or historically, they may not be the best items to toss. Consider how hard it would be to replace the item and get rid of things that are a dime a dozen.
In what way is this item making my life more purposeful or better?
If the items are not making you happier, healthier, or better, they are just taking up space and cluttering up your life. Removing these stacks and boxes of stuff will free up your home and your space.
From here, you can start moving the pile into boxes and trash bags and try to get them out of your sight as fast as you can.
Now: gather trash bags, boxes or whatever to TRASH these items. If you can, get rid of this stuff right away.
Pile #2- Sell or Donate
First make your decision- are you going to hang onto this crap until the spring yard sale season or do you reeealy just want to be done with it now and donate it. If you want to hang onto your treasures until yard sale make a commitment that you will NOT backslide and start sneaking things out of the yard sale pile to keep. And you’ll have to find a temporary storage space for all your yard sale stuff like a storage shed.
If you have some seriously valuable items check out a local consignment shop- but remember even they only pay ten cents to twenty cents for what you paid for it. And if you really think you have something, check out eBay to find out if you have a chance of selling it there. If you have yard sale, check out the web for some great advice on how to price, and how to advertise and which days to pick for a yard sale.
If you donate, contact your closest Goodwill or Salvation Army or other Thrift store and find out- before you go down :
If they have any current restrictions. If they are in fact taking donations. When they accept donations. If someone is there to help bring the stuff in. Make sure you get a receipt from the thrift store to use for charitable donations for taxes.
Pile #3 MOVE IT and
Pile #4 KEEP IT
So by now, you should see a big reduction in the amount of stuff you have…but if you have a lot left over and it’s not going to neatly fit back into your garage, its probably time you moved it…
We are going to discuss these 2 piles together- because now that your stuff is hopefully reduced, you have 2 different choices of where you can store it.
When I say KEEP IT- I’m assuming you can move it back into the garage or the room you originally pulled it out of. And hopefully it won’t mean you are just going to move all the stuff back in. If you are going to keep it, try to organize it such a way that it’s easy to get to.
The Move It pile-which kind of assumes you are going to keep it-, may be moved to a different location.
Here’s where I can give some really good advice… I would say the #1 reason people start asking about storage sheds is they have too much stuff in their garage or other part of their home. You might be smarter to wait until you have really assessed what you have- and what you pared down to see if you need a storage shed and what size.
A storage shed could be the best solution for storing the stuff you have left over in your “move it” or “keep it” piles. When it comes to storing your items you have a few choices- turn another room into your home into your own storage shed. Rent a storage locker. Buy a storage shed.
Turning another room into a storage shed may not be that practical because few of houses have the luxury where we can find 100 square feet or so to use for storage. But if you do, consider installing some cheap yet sturdy shelving units to get more of your treasures in there.
Renting a storage locker is another alternative but if you think you will be storing your stuff for longer than 3 or 4 months, you could take that rental money and put it into your own storage unit on your property. The biggest drawback to a rental storage locker is that it’s not steps away. If you decide you want to grill, and you know that extra tank of gas is in the storage locker across town, how likely is it that you’ll bundle up, get in your card, drive ½ across town, FIND it, and drag it back. And in theory- once you are done with something, it should go back in storage. There is not a lot customization you can do with a storage unit. It’s kind of like a rental apartment- you can’t really do a lot to it to make it your own.
So if you still have a sizeable amount of your treasures, and you want to be able to access it easily and-this is important- quickly without a lot of hunting- a backyard storage structure could help. Storage sheds come in sizes from 8 feet by 8 feet all the way up to 16 feet by 24 feet.
And, believe it or not, you can rent to own storage sheds. If interested, find out how much it would cost.
Just another ShopRTO Home Lifestyle Tip.