Decluttering your garage is about as hard as home organisation gets. Because let’s face it: Everything you don’t want in the rest of your home ends up in your garage. It’s purgatory for all of the misfit items in your home! A clutter-free and organised garage will help reduce and prevent unwanted frustration and stress. A thoroughly organised home and garage can make manoeuvring around your garage incredibly faster and save you both time and energy to find the items that you are looking for on the go.

In our latest article on how to declutter your garage, we would like to share our experience in a step-by-step guide by adding valuable organising tips to make your decluttering practically painless, and turn this classic eyesore into a place you don’t mind your neighbour staring at.

Step-by-step guide in how to organise your garage.

1. The more the merrier – unlike our approach of less is more, having multiple people to help you with this task are recommended.

Do not tackle a garage by yourself. It may be an overwhelming task and chances are that you may abandon it halfway through the process when trying it single-handedly. It is always a better option to have more than two sets of hands to assist you with the process of decluttering and organising the space to the required outcome.Our team at Walle Declutter suggests getting a friend or two to assist you with the project as items in a garage can be on the heavy side to carry or move. Make sure the person(s) that volunteer to assist you are in the possession of certain qualities that will work in your favour – just kidding on the volunteering part, as chances are slim you’ll have a line of people volunteering to get their hands dirty. To combat this reality ask a daily wager or close friend to assist you with decluttering your garage. The qualities we recommend the assistant to have are, they need some muscle (for the heavy lifting), be patient and most importantly they must have no attachment to your stuff. This will make the discarding process that much easier. Maybe not so much for you but them anyway.

2. Consult your weather app.

You don’t want to be left stranded with all your possessions in your driveway once the rain gods decide for it to pour down on the day. Make sure to gauge the weather and tackle your garage when there are no rain forecasts. Our organising team at Walle Declutter have found that the best time during the year to declutter garages is in the winter as rainfall is less during this season in Gauteng.

3. Apply the SMART principle.

Like most things in life, planning is required before you start the decluttering process. Our professional organisers apply the SMART principle before commencing with any decluttering project to ensure we work towards an attainable goal. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable and lastly Time-bound.

Plan your decluttering process on this principle and you will surely be successful.  Firstly, set a goal as to what you would like your garage to be transformed into, what it needs to look like and what functionality you expect from an organised garage.  Ideas and inspiration on organised garages can be found on several platforms such as Pinterest or Instagram to name a few or you can simply follow our social media platforms by searching for Walleclutterfree on which we daily share organising and decluttering tips and ideas for both in-home and garage decluttering projects. The second part is to allocate sufficient time for the project. Don’t underestimate the number of unused items you have hoarded in your garage and how much time micro organising entails to have it organised. From our experience at Walle Declutter, we set aside two to three days on average for decluttering and organising a garage. As much as we would all love to have a garage similar to the likes of Klhoè Kardashian on The Home Edit, Netflix series, we simply don’t. As professional organisers, we are however of the opinion that every space can be transformed into a functional and organised one that requires realistic timelines.

4. Get your hands dirty.

The actual and easiest part of decluttering your garage is to remove all its content. Remove all the content from the garage to a temporary location, like under a covered parking space or your driveway. This process is referred to by professional organisers as the purging stage which means to remove all or unwanted items from a specific environment. This stage is generally less time consuming and contributes to instant gratification once all the content is purged from your garage. Just in case you only started reading from here, this is the step where the assistant with muscles will come in handy.

5. Work smart and not hard.

Whilst removing items from your garage to another (temporary) space, make sure to group and categorise the items into different zones. All the detergents you stockpile in your garage should be placed in the detergent section in your driveway. The same goes for everything else, tools with tools, gardening items in a gardening pile, sports equipment in a sports pile. Get it? This organising method is genuinely helpful and time-saving as you are applying a system instead of just relocating items from one space to the next. Just a side note, when we started Walle Declutter we had no idea this is how it works. Our first garage project was a total disaster and we had no idea that just piling stuff on each other outside the garage will leave us sorting and organising through that pile for hours. Jemaine and I, our first organisers at the time spend probably 12 hours completing a mammoth of a garage project and never got to doing micro organising for the client. Noticed I did not refer to them as Professional Organisers? It took us a while to gain the experience to know that grouping and categorising is a very important step in the process. Lastly, before I forget, apologies to the client that hosted us for hours while we learned new skills.

6. My driveway is a complete mess. What now?

Firstly, remain calm. Comfort lies in the fact that you can see the inside of your garage without the clutter for the first time since you probably moved into your home. This is normally also the part when hiring professional organisers would come to view your garage in its natural state for the first time and would be able to assist you with assessing the infrastructure of your garage, the layout, your desired goals, make recommendations and provide you with a time frame as to when the project will be completed. Assuming you have been brave enough to tackle the decluttering project without hiring a professional organiser, please consider the following by asking simple questions about your garage. Are the structural components of your garage intact and poses no safety risk for you or anyone else? Your neighbour or any other person that might be invited to have a look at your organised garage once the project has been completed should also be considered when asking this question. Are all the electrical elements like lighting and electrical sockets still in working condition? It might be a good idea to call out an electrician to do all these checks for you if you are uncertain or if you have a suspicion that you might have a few rats lurking around. Other aspects such as the layout of cupboards, shelves, pegboards or gym equipment can also now be considered and planned for.

7. Happiness is a freshly cleaned home, uhm garage. 

It’s a normal occurrence for clients to assume that professional organisers are also cleaners. The two processes are intertwined so the assumption comes naturally but it is not always the case. Please ensure to ask your preferred professional organiser during your first meeting if they also provide cleaning during a decluttering session. As for you, the next step is cleaning. Make sure to get all those old spiderwebs out of the corners of your garage, wash all the cupboards and surface areas and smell the freshness that surrounds you.

8. Keep, Discard and donate.

After all the items have been placed in their respective zones or categories in your driveway, the actual work will commence. The next process usually takes the longest but not to worry, if you are ready to experience the joy of having less you’ll be just fine. The most important part of this step is to stay focused. Remember the SMART principle? Apply this methodology again by being specific with where you are heading and be true to yourself. You need to be able to ask some tough questions to yourself about the items you will now gradually be going through section by section. Start with one section first and complete it by working through a process of elimination. You can do this by creating three main categories namely, keep, discard, donate. Sounds simple enough right? Wait for it, this process can be very time consuming, especially if you are very attached to your belongings or if you are taken back to previous experiences when discovering old items you have almost completely forgotten about. 

From our experience as professional organisers, we can assure you that most clients undergo this experience and that it is completely normal. Just make sure not to get sidetracked by each item. Stick to the main objective of going through each item and categorising it per the keep, discard or donate categories.

At Walle Declutter we love to work on the “JOY” principle as advocated by Marie Kondo, a world-leading professional organiser who inspires our organising methods in countless ways. The main modus operandi of the joy principle is that If an item brings you joy, then you keep it, but if it no longer brings you joy you can let it go. You can donate it to someone that it will spark joy for. Should you feel overwhelmed by going through each section and all items sparks joy you might want to take a break, clear your head and dive into the process again otherwise it might be advisable to get a professional organiser in to assist you through the decluttering process.

9. Donate versus sell.

A quote by Maya Angelou positions the act of giving in such an elegant perspective. It reads, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” How true! Have you ever experienced the liberating feeling of giving to others, of sharing? The decluttering process and minimalist movement are all fundamentally based on this idea that we don’t need everything we own to experience life, happiness and joy. We can all have that by simply experiencing life. As inspiringly stated by the Minimalist, Love people, Use things we as professional organisers, wholeheartedly agree. We have encountered many clients that hold on to things they cherish or that hoards objects due to emotional or psychological reasons and that have not yet experienced how it feels to be liberated from physical objects that hold us back. In light of this concept of giving, we urge you to donate pre-loved items to local charities or communities in need.

Selling household items or outdated technology that you keep hidden away in your garage aren’t always that easy. The easiest approach to get it sold is to get into contact with auctioneers or secondhand stores that might offer you a price on items. In South Africa, you would be able to find various secondhand stores that purchase old goods or valuable items from you to an agreed price after a slight negotiation. This process normally requires you to transport these items directly to the possible buyer. One of the largest retailers you can approach to sell your pre-loved goods to is Cash Crusaders but do keep in mind that it is only items that are of value or are still technological significant that can be sold.

10. Creating sections

Once you have worked your way through the decluttering process and have applied the joy principle you can now plan the permanent home for every item by creating sections in your garage.  Sections will be specific to the items you would like to keep in your garage and are similar to the categories that you have set out during the purging step. If you have existing infrastructure like shelves or cabinets you should set out zones in each of them accordingly. You can consider the following themes: lawn and garden, sporting goods, car equipment, and tools and workbench items. It is recommended that you also consider how often you use certain equipment, goods or items and plan accordingly. Items that are frequently used should be readily accessible and should be stored near the entrance of your garage. Less frequently used items can be stored on overhead shelves or the top of cabinets. It is also advisable to consider storing heavy items on the bottom of a shelf or directly on the floor to prevent damage or injury during a collapse or fall of the object.

11. Storage

In a consumerist society full of advertising we are constantly bombarded with items and goods that look appealing and make us feel by purchasing them will somehow provide us with a solution. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The notion or feeling that you experience to have that parcel delivered to your door as a quick solution only means the marketing was on point and that you have been hooked.

Any professional organiser worth his or her salt will firstly tell you that you don’t need to buy more things to be organised. The second thing is that it is never a good idea to go to the shops to buy baskets or containers before you have gone through the decluttering process.

Once you have gone through the process of decluttering your garage you’ll find that you can easily discover multiple retailers at your fingertips that sell organising products. Everything from utensil organisers to large containers. You will be able to find various sizes of baskets and containers for your specific needs. A valuable tip to consider is that items that are stored away in a container that is not transparent probably mean you’ll never look in it again. Our advice to clients concerning containers is to always buy clear containers so that the content is visible and that you can easily find what you are looking for. This system means you save time and skip the effort of finding things the next time you pay a visit to your garage.

12. Labelling

It is always a good idea to have a direction as to where you are heading and by applying labels to containers or sections you are doing exactly that. Labels that are easily readable and clear provides you with structure and serves as a reminder of where things were placed. Labels can either be homemade by using as little as paper, a marker and transparent tape that you can apply to containers or sections of your organised garage. Assuming that after you have successfully decluttered your garage and would like to take on other projects in your home you might want to consider adding a label maker to your next shopping list.

13. Discarding items.

You have achieved what you have set out to do once you have reached this stage of decluttering your garage. Wondering what happens to all the discarded items? Items to be discarded are either pre-loved items that no longer spark joy and can not be donated or that is not of any value or are just sorry to say but junk. These items can be discarded by hiring a skip for the day. Skip services are available all over South Africa and very well priced. Just ensure the skip company you choose to dispose of your unwanted items does so in an earth-friendly manner.

 

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