There is little bit of that hoarding instinct in all of us, only it is often termed differently. A person hoarding art and precious things would be called a collector, an organized hoarder would be considered well prepared rather than a little weird, but deep down it’s about amassing little trinkets and various large items in the hopes that we will one day find a use for them. Don’t get me wrong, many garages feature a ton of truly useful stuff – things that we use frequently and that help with a number of little tasks around the home – but there is often a whole bunch of useless junk sitting around as well. This can lead to a big, unseemly mess in which it is difficult to maneuver and find what you need. Keeping an organized garage helps with performing everyday tasks quicker and it’s not that difficult to do; it takes a bit of planning and a day or two of work.
Making an inventory
When you first start sorting the items in the garage it helps to make a list of all the things you have and group them under various categories like tools, car parts, electrical equipment and subcategories like nails, bolts, wires, power tools, etc. Be sure to have a category labeled “junk” for the things that realistically serve no purpose and only waste space. It is useful to sort items in different piles on the ground.
Throwing out the trash
Before anything else can be done you will have to start throwing out unnecessary items from your junk pile. You can take most of the items to a junk yard, throw some in the trash or rent out some storage space for items that have some sentimental value, but just sit around collecting dust. Your garage should have some free space to work in and should contain only the most necessary equipment – things like ancient pieces of electronic equipment (small FM radios and whatnot) and old furniture have to be thrown out.
Categorizing your items and arranging everything effectively
Once all the junk is cleared out you will need to go through your inventory and arrange all the tools into various piles, using small containers for things like nails and bolts, wrapping wires, and allotting shelf space. Then you can go ahead and put all the most frequently used tools in easily accessible places and storing away the less frequently used things and smaller items away afterwards. Remember to keep car batteries away from moisture and off the concrete floor, to properly seal lids and to safely store away any chemicals.
A few points on safety
There’s a good chance you will have a bunch of rusty old parts, sharp metal edges, huge piles, things on high and rickety shelves and even some toxic chemicals, so you should take certain precautions to avoid injuries. Even though they are a staple of slapstick comedy and seem funny to us, slips and falls are the most common types of injuries that occur both at home and the workplace, followed closely by things falling on people. Some safety precautions you can take include:
Wearing heavy working gloves – we are talking about the thick, industrial kind that can actually protect your hands from sharp metal edges and splinters.
Buying quality platform ladders – rickety old ladders are the cause of numerous unpleasant accidents, so be sure to get yourself a sturdy, stable platform ladder that can withstand a substantial load. Portable ladders are easy to store when not in use and can be made of lightweight materials like aluminum, yet still offer plenty of support.
Using proper lifting form – most people just bend down at the hips while keeping their knees almost completely straight when they try to pick something of the ground, and lacking the proper hip and hamstring flexibility end up bending the spine which leads to injuries. Keep your back staring and squat down, bending your knees when lifting heavy things.
Wearing a dust mask – there is often a lot of dust in an untidy garage and it may contain things like fine metal particles, and a face mask is a very cheap and easy way to protect your lungs.
You don’t have to worry too much about safety, but a decent ladder, some gloves and a dust mask won’t hurt.
It really isn’t that complicated, having a well-organized and clean garage is a matter of letting go of useless junk, finding the right place for all the useful stuff and just putting in the work. It might take a couple of days to get everything sorted and a fresh coat of paint on the walls may be in order, but you will be satisfied by the result.