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Home Garage Organization Tips July 3, 2010

Home garage organization is one of those things we just love to put off or ignore all together. In some cases, this tendency has a price either in wasted time, wasted money, or even personal injury. Some garage organization tips follow, tips you can use if you set your mind to doing so. That is the hard part though, right? In effort to at least get you started, and to give you a chance at finishing at least a step or two, we will keep this simple.
Most garages have some sort of front or side bench or combination of both. Most of those benches become a permanent home to parts, scattered tools, buckets of bolts, and a list far to long for public disclosure. Congratulations, you’ve found your valid starting point, and a goal – reclaim your bench space.

One key tip for finishing a garage organization project I use myself is to pick out the car or toy I hate to leave outside, and back it out into the driveway. Then, in the case of a bench cleaning, move EVERYTHING off and out from under the bench into the now empty place. Do you think we have sufficient motivation now? The prized toy cannot come back in till the job is done, so you better get started.

You should now have a (huge?) pile, and a new view of your workspace and storage areas (just remember, they are separate things and we will now use them that way). Once you are over the shock and surprise of that new outlet or bench grinder you rediscovered, grab a broom and pan, and anything else you need to get the bench-top and underneath clean. Do it now or it will not get done.

Now we can look at tip number two. Call it the two step. Step one is to cull out things like old batteries for recycling, scrap steel and aluminum, and that spare radiator with a hole in it. Put those things outside the garage, out of reach of the magnetic field of your bench and odd corners of your garage. They will fight you to return, but be strong. Step two is distract yourself from those newly liberated items by placing your large items to a place under the bench where they make sense. The snow-blower, mower, or tiller, and things like the shop vac are first. A bonus tip here is to put those items one deep with nothing behind them or in front of them. you should be able to move these items in and out from under the bench without moving anything else, and have a completely empty stall to return them. This gives you fewer surprises and quests, and saves time and effort when these items are needed. Repeat the two step outlined above till there are no more trash, junk, recyclables, or large to mid-size itemsleft. The pile is getting pretty small now, and you can still see a work-bench. Amazing, isn’t it?

Time for a new tip. If you are prone to being a pack-rat and collecting bolts, nuts, and brackets, now is the time to organize these as well. The hidden tips here are usefulness, and weight, and quantity. Do you really need 1 inch bolts and nuts to fix the car or mower? Put them with your scrap. Do you like emptying that five gallon bucket to find a washer? Besides weighing way too much, this time honored system is a real time waster, so sort your fasteners into coffee cans, bins, or one gallon buckets instead. All the time you are working this way, keep in mind junk versus treasure, and how long and how many steps to put your hands on say a 3/8 by 2 inch bolt and nut. When you are all done, now decide based on combined weight and space, what would be a good place to put them? If you have many bins or buckets and they are a bit heavy, you can place them in one area under your bench with nothing on top of them so you can easily see and retrieve what you need.

At this point, the end should at least be in sight. Tools, power cords, power tools, all cost money. Store them accordingly and finally make use of your pegboard and toolboxes and hooks like they should be used. If you find at this stage there are still lots of things on the floor, resist putting them on the bench, and consider more weeding out and re-organizing. Remember, if you clear this stage, your garage will be organized and efficient, and you will have your work-bench back. Really dig deep into the relocate, trash, or treasure mode though and you can get done.

Pat yourself on the back, sweep up, and pull the toy back in it’s place. But, what about the recycling stuff outside? That is up to you, the day of the week, and what recycling is available. The point is that entire pile outside can go, and should no longer find a permanent home in your garage. In fact, by using the steps above, you’ll find yourself reluctant to even let them back in your newly organized garage, so it’s up to you. Make a few bucks if you can, or else it’s trash.

The hardest parts of home garage organization are starting, culling, and finishing. This brief system above actually helps me in my battle of procrastination, and hording. Try them yourself.

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