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How Do I Organise My Garage?

The garage graveyard. The part of the home where things go to die. We’re talking about the pine TV cabinet (that you might use again one day), the old fish tank that took too much time to maintain (but you can’t get rid of). Join Bonnie + Lily as they talk about why we choose to park our cars on the street to make room for our stuff, and what steps you can take to get on top of the garage graveyard!

EPISODE SHOW NOTES

Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome, I’m Bonnie, and I’m Lily, and this is Little Home Organised, the PodCast dedicated to helping you declutter, get organized, and reclaim time for the things you love.

BONNIE: Dahn, dahn dahn..

LILY: All-day

BONNIE: Ohhhhh

LILY: It was amazing. Bonnie, I have a situation in my garage. What will I do? Help me with my graveyard, help me.

BONNIE: A bit of a crack at the garage reorganizing maybe like 4 times already in the last 6 weeks

LILY: You have been there 6 weeks

BONNIE: Yeah

LILY: Meanwhile, your office looks like you know a bomb has gone off

BONNIE: a bomb has hit it

MUSIC

BONNIE: Hello and welcome this week; we are talking about the garage graveyard.

LILY: Dahn, Dahn Dahn…

BONNIE: She just had to do it. We will talk about why we fill our garages with old stuff and park our second most valuable asset on the street or driveway to make room for said stuff and what practical steps you can take to reorganize your garage.

LILY: Now, if you haven’t followed us on the “Tikky-Tokky,” also known as TikTok, we would love you to check us out. There is an assumption out there that TikTok is people doing dances and goofy stuff, but TikTok is an educational platform, and like there is so much quality information on there, if you are into gardening, get on TikTok, if you want to learn how to sing, get on TikTok if you want to learn how to play guitar get on TikTok, you want to learn what really amazing books in a certain genre are, and you know follow certain people, if you want parenting advice whatever Tiktok, quick fast information and also home organization tips from Little Home Organised, so if you are not on TikTok let us be the reason you get on there, we would love to see you.

BONNIE: I did see a video randomly on TikTok that made me laugh so much I nearly wet my pants, and it was just a lady who had said she had asked her hubby to put the leftovers in the fridge and she opened the fridge, and he had literally put the whole slow cooker in the fridge, cord and all, and it was balancing on top of all this stuff, and I just laughed and laughed because I know so many people in my life who are that literal that you have to be like really specific about what you mean

LILY: This is what she said

BONNIE: Yeah Yeah, I just thought yep, that is brilliant; I love it. Okay, so today, we are talking about the garage graveyard. Now the reason I wanted to talk about the garage graveyard is because we just having moved everything gets dumped in the garage first, right because like that is the place where you know, it is the easiest to access, you kind of stick everything in there and then you kind of like filter it into the rest of the house when you are unpacking, and stuff like that and our garage here is just your standard double lock up garage which doesn’t really fit two cars anymore because everybody has got so much stuff that you just can’t fit two cars.

LILY: And cars are getting bigger.

BONNIE: And cars are getting bigger right, but our old house had this extra portion at the back of the garage, so we actually had like 1 ½ sized garages, which was awesome because then my hubby could set up his weights and he could set up his hobby area, and you know we had room for the kid’s bikes and something like that, and we don’t have that now

LILY: And you have to make a smaller space work.

BONNIE: And it is kind of annoying me

LILY: Yeah, I can understand that but even like you only having just moved in, I walked in the first time I visited, and I looked at all the shelving that was up and all your organized boxes, and I was like that is still going to be get rearranged, but it is still so organized in here.

BONNIE: I think we have had a bit of a crack at the garage reorganizing maybe like 4 times already in the last 6 weeks

LILY: You have been here 6 weeks.

BONNIE: Yeah

LILY: Meanwhile, your office looks like you know a bomb has gone off

BONNIE: A bomb has hit it, yeah because I am avoiding work at the moment

LILY: Yes, so today we are talking about the garage graveyard. Now Bon, how common is this in the homes that you go into with your professional organizing business

BONNIE: So I would have had hundreds of clients, maybe over a couple of thousand even over the last 10 years, I don’t keep track, and I would say a garage is an issue for 99.9% of them.
LILY: Isn’t it amazing? I feel like there are a few areas in the house where we can kind of get away with hiding things from our everyday living, and I feel like the garage is the big one, the spare bedroom.

BONNIE: Or the study

LILY: Or the study, yeah

BONNIE: Because these are areas that we don’t maybe use or need to use as often and so we kind of think, oh we can get away with dumping stuff in the guest bedroom or in the study or in the garage, and I just find it so funny there is this great image, we will have to link to this in the show notes, and I use this in my workshops all the time

LILY: Is that a comic

BONNIE: Yeah, it’s a comic

LILY: Yeah, I have seen that one

BONNIE: It is like a little cartoon man opening up the garage, and he has got his son there, and he says one day son all this will be yours, and it is just crap, it is just stuff, it is like sporting equipment and old furniture, there is not a car in there like it is just stuff, and I think that just so aptly explains what so many garages are like, we park our $10,000 -$20,000-$40,00o-$100,000 dollar car on the driveway or under a carport or on the street to make room for maybe you know like $4000 worth of stuff that we don’t actually want and if we actually took the time and effort to list it online we would actually make that money back and reclaim the space for our car to go back in

LILY: I feel like the garage is filled with a lot of delayed decisions

BONNIE: Yeah, and the reason we call it the garage graveyard is because it is where things go to die, it is when you have upgraded your living room furniture, and you have gone for that Scandie white look, and you have decided you know what this old pine furniture is not just doing it for me anymore even though it is great solid wood it is not the look I want to go for anymore, but I can’t get rid of this pine furniture because it is such good quality and they don’t actually make it good quality like this anymore, so I am just going to stick it in the garage, oh you know there is a spot, or I will find a spot and stick in the garage and then what happens is time goes by and all of a sudden 10 years later there is a few other things in there that have gone to die, and you actually do get to that point where you are like, hmmmm I don’t need this, I have clearly not had it in my house for a long time let’s sell it or donate it, and so it is the graveyard.

LILY: I think what happens with these spaces in our homes that we don’t regularly go into is there is a little bit of like a relief in the sense that we have been given space to not make the decision

BONNIE: Out of sight, out of mind

LILY: Literally and so when we put them in these spaces it is almost like oh I don’t have to think about that, that doesn’t cause me any you know pressure, I don’t have to make a decision on trying to sell that or whatever I am going to do with that item, and so it ends up living in the garage or the space bedroom or wherever it is for ages and becoming you know a compounded problem.

BONNIE: And it is funny because I almost feel like sometimes we are not ready to make that decision to let go of something and so sometimes we do need to put items into some sort of storage place that is out of the way, out of the prime real estate as we could say and then you can come to a point later where you decide to get rid of it, case in point when we moved into mum and dad’s house you know for this 9 months I think it was about September 2020 we moved in, there was this big tallboy that was in one of the kids bedrooms and it wasn’t practical it didn’t work for what we needed so I said to mum, oh look I am going to take it out of the kids room because there are 2 kids in this room and it is not a huge room and they need the cupboard space for other things and we bought more practical sets of draws and I said do you want to get rid of it, like we can sell it because it is not one that they needed or had a sentimental attachment to and mum was very adamant that she wanted to keep it because it matched the bedside tables anyway just the other day I was talking with mum and dad and dad was like this is great us planning to move, we are downsizing and we are selling all this stuff, we are getting rid of things, like he has become this you know maestro on facebook marketplace with selling stuff which is great I feel like it is so empowering for them. They sold the tallboy the other day, and I was like excuse me, you sold what, and he was like the tallboy, and I was like are you talking about the one that matches the bedside tables, and he was like yes, and he was like your mother was so happy to get rid of it, and I just thought how funny like 9 months later.

LILY: Isn’t it amazing how that changes

BONNIE: It is such a different decision

LILY: Yeah, sometimes we are so fixed on a decision, and we really need to take that time to like, mull it over and be like, what are my priorities.

BONNIE: And in that situation, the garage is really good for that, but you have to set yourself a limit because if you don’t set yourself a limit of I am going to review this decision in 3 months you just find 3 years goes passed

LILY: And the things with decisions is like I was saying before it feel really good to put them off, because it is like I don’t have to deal with that right now like right now I am in the thick of uni and if someone asked me to make a decision I would be like whatever, decide whatever you want, I just don’t have the brain capacity for it but if you were to ask me in a couple of months time when I am free of that mental load then I would be able to, then I would probably have like a different response, so you know we depending on the seasons of life that we are in, we have the capacity to make these decisions and process these things and go through them but if it is in an area of the house that becomes a graveyard, a dead zone it is less likely that we are going to end up dealing with it in a timely manner because we are not encountering it every day and then what ends up happening is it snowballs into a bigger problem and suddenly you cant fit your bikes in the garage and your workspace isn’t working for you anymore and then you know potentially you do end up being that case where I can park my car in here.

BONNIE: Yeah, and it is amazing how many garages we will do, and the sole goal is I just want to get my car back in here.

LILY: Yes, because it happens to the best of us.

BONNIE: Oh, it does, and you know it was a good couple of weeks after moving here until I could actually get the garage to a state where I could park my car in it, and as soon as I could, it was like, oh this is great, but then it still wasn’t quite right, there was still a little bit of clutter happening on one side, and I am totally going to throw my husband into it because he has just got a lot of stuff in the garage right and it is not things that I can make decisions on, and we had to downsize like we had 2 sets of shelving units that were matching and we had pretty much one for all of our camping and like Christmas and you know personal stuff, and then we had another one that was pretty much a work related stuff and I have had to sacrifice a lot of that stuff to fit in this garage, so that means I am not saving up a lot of the donations that I use to save up and things like that which does make me sad, but at the same time you know

LILY: You can only do what you can do

BONNIE: You can only do what you can do, and you can’t create more space, so we have had to yeah make some changes to the garage already after organizing it because things weren’t quite working the way that we wanted them to, so it might be a case of we have you know rearranged the weights and the gym set up and then we have rearranged because there is a motorbike in there as well so like sometimes you do need to go back and review things and make further alterations, but I tell you what being able to get out of the car and have my children get out of the car inside the garage so if the weather is terrible without freaking out that they are going to knock a motorbike over or scratch the door on our metal shelving it is such a relief and a burden off my back that you know all the extra time we have put into rethinking how to do the garage and what needs to go and what needs to change and blah blah blah it is so worth it. So while it can feel like a huge momentum effort to think about organizing your garage, it is just so worth it in the end.

LILY: So after the break, we are going to talk more about the purpose of your garage and the practical steps that you can take to reclaim it back so that your cars can fit in there and your hobbies can be achieved.

YOU’VE GOT MAIL…….

MUSIC

BONNIE: So before we talk about the practical steps of organizing your garage, I just want to cast your mind back to what a garage purpose is because I think this is really important because, in modern times, I feel like have kind of changed the way we use our garages, and you can see this in other areas like formal dining rooms don’t tend to be, think so much anymore

LILY: A place to do your homework.

BONNIE: Yeah, they have generally turned into a playroom or a study area for children or for families, which I think is good because a lot of people weren’t actually using the formal dining anyway, and it is good to kind of yeah make your homework for you but if you think about you know years and years ago before there were cars and people rode horses they didn’t really need like they had a stable obviously for the horse to sleep in, you just had like a hitching post out the front right, and you would hitch your horse to it when you went to someone else’s house or whatnot and then when you were at your own place the horse went in the stable. Then when it turned into things like carriages, you would have a carriage house or a stable or a barn where you would park that kind of stuff, and usually, it would be detached, it wasn’t something that was right near the house because if you had a barn or a stable that you also put the carriage in it generally had animals in it too right, and you don’t really want the animal smell right next to the kitchen and so forth. These days we have these garages that are attached to the house so that we can walk straight from the garage into the house, especially in bad weather we like this, we generally have these doors that are remote, you know they are electrical we can hit a button, it goes up we can drive in, we don’t have to worry about getting out and fiddling with some sort of lock or key to be able to open it and get our car in

LILY: In some cases, yeah

BONNIE: In most cases right, so we have really altered the way that garages work, they are designed for our cars to go in, but so often these days you will actually find people have reclaimed the garage as an extra room in the house if they need the space so they might have you know done the floor and they have turned it into a granny flat

LILY: Or a hobby space of some kind.

BONNIE: Yeah or

LILY: A home business

BONNIE: Yeah, so many home businesses operate out of the garage it is, yeah interesting

LILY: Or a graveyard.

BONNIE: Or a graveyard, but the thing is you actually have look at what the purpose of your garage is for you and for your family and then decide how to best use this space because I think too often we get really fixated on, oh my kids need a music room, and I don’t have another room in the house that I can use as a music room, so I am going to convert the garage. We might have like 3 living room spaces so that that person can watch TV and the kids can do something over here, and I can do something over here. I think sometimes we do need to stop and think, what are the multiple purposes that can actually happen in this room because I know I have mentioned this study before. UCLA did a study, and they worked out that we actually only use 40% of our house right and so when we are converting our garage into an extra room and then our cars which are our second most expensive item generally that we own, we park those on the street or on the driveway or under a carport to make room for an extra room that we maybe are not using or for stuff that we don’t really need and we don’t use, but we can’t really let go of it, so we have to really take a step back and think okay what is the purpose of the garage, what is the purpose, what do I need to keep safe in there, do I have things that need to stay in a safe, do I have a car or a boat or a motorbike or a collection of motorbikes.

LILY: So let’s say you know this question is important, so think about it right now, what is the purpose of my garage, what purposes do I want it to have, okay so I want to be able to park my car in there. Let’s say I am, a, my side hustle is I make jewelry, and I want to have a space that is out of the house because it is messy where I can make my jewelry, so I need to have the bench space for that. I also go camping once a year, and I like to have somewhere to put my camping gear. Let’s say those are the things that you know are going on for you in your garage then we need to make sure that the stuff that is in your garage reflects those needs, and if it is not, then it is time to reassess and re-evaluate, yeah let’s get in there and declutter and get things more organized and start getting the stuff that has gone in there to die needs to actually be declutter, be sold on and be dealt with.

BONNIE: And especially if you live in an area where weather is an issue, so say you get hail storms like we do in Queensland, or you live somewhere where the temperature freezers over, and you can’t maybe start your car if it is out on the street or it is harder to get going in the morning, and it is better for your car to be garaged for that, or you know there is

LILY: Just protection from the sun,

BONNIE: Yeah yeah, it is amazing how

LILY: My back tinted window at the moment gets absolutely punished by the western sun, and it is starting to do that weird woopy looking thing

BONNIE: Ah, the bubble

LILY: Yeah, and so I think I guess I will just have to get my tint replaced, but like the sun is punishing, so there are all these reasons to want to get our stuff in the garage

BONNIE: And especially if parking outside means that you are getting leaves or bird or bat dropping on the car, I learned very quickly with my second car when I was only in my early 20’s that bat droppings are awful for your paint

LILY: Yeah, no, they are super bad. So, Bonnie, I have got a situation in my garage. What should I do? Help me with my graveyard, help me.

BONNIE: So first thing is let’s use the 5 P’s, and we use this a Little Miss Organised all the time, it is out

LILY: We should make it a bit of a gig, don’t you reckon …. Number 1

BONNIE: We should have a jingle or something that would be fun

LILY: We should make it so easy to remember, so number one, of course, is plan.

BONNIE: So fail to plan, plan to fail basically, so what is your plan for the garage? We have already talked about what is the purpose, so have a think about what is the purpose of the space, what activities do I need to do in there so like for us example we park one car and one motorbike in there, there is a workspace for my husband for his tools and hobbies, there is a weights area, we also have you know a set of shelves with all our camping and Christmas stuff on it, and then we have our kids Go-zone in there so that I don’t have to have them traipsing through the house with dirty shoes.

LILY: That is a really great point because, for some people, the Go-zone is right where the kids get out of the car because it is where your flowing traffic in and out of the house, so if you want to set up the Go-zone, which is an amazing system you will need to make the space for it somewhere.
BONNIE: Yeah, so what’s the purpose, create a plan around that whether it is something that you actually write down or you just have in your head, do you need to store sporting equipment in there, do you need to store gardening equipment in there so like there are a few different categories that can go in a garage, and you have to stop and really assess is that what I want for my particular space.

LILY: Number 2

BONNIE: So number 2 is then your pulling out, now the biggest mistake that people make with organizing their garage is they go right let’s get the cars out, let’s pull everything out and stick it on the floor, and then they get halfway through the day, and they are exhausted, or they have to pick the kids up from school and stuff just gets shoved back so do it in smaller steps and do it one section at a time.

LILY: We know it is gratifying to see a big sweeping change but this process, try to be patient. It is a big job.

BONNIE: Yeah, and unless you can kind of have a team or you know 8-10 people to help you get it done in one day, generally speaking, it is going to take you a little bit longer than that. So we would suggest starting with, like, the most priority, so if you have got a workspace and that is really not working, start with just organizing the workspace. If you have got a set of shelves, maybe just start with one of those shelves or all of those shelves and work out before this is part of the planning phase, what is actually going to live on those shelves, and then your step 3 is to do your purge, so maybe once you have maybe emptied everything off that set of shelves and you have categorized it, so all the gardening is together all the tools together, all the sporting equipment, etc., do a purge. Oh my goodness, we have got 7 soccer balls; we really don’t need 7 soccer balls; how many can go. Do the purge, go through, and get rid of the things that.

LILY: Donate responsibly

BONNIE: Yes, give to your local charities and let them have a second life with a new family

LILY: There are many options for your stuff that doesn’t involve going to a landfill, so just have think about it when you are going through this step

BONNIE: Yeah, absolutely, and if you do get stuck, download our donations cheat sheet of our website, little miss organised.com.au, and that will give you some ideas of where some of the toys and things can do and even tools because there are heaps of men’s sheds and you know tool library type programs around where you can actually donate these things, and if in doubt you can always give it away as a freebee online, people love a good freebie.

LILY: Oh, don’t they? Speaking of freebies, we actually have some discount codes that we now have to offer our listeners, so you guys can get some savings on some products that we believe in, and one of them you may be aware of is second scout you can use the code Littlehome10 to get a discount of their adhesive label range, and they are beautiful infographic labels like picture labels, and then, of course, our newest company that we love their product is bag & shred and so if you are someone who is trying to get rid of confidential documents, you don’t have a shredder, or you don’t have the patience for a shredder, and you want to make sure that the documents are securely disposed of then that is an awesome service as well our discount code for them is little10, but we will have more information coming on our website.

BONNIE: So step number 4 once you have planned, you have pulled out, you have purged is to purchase, so once you know how much of each category you have got, that is when you actually go and do the shop, and this is why the process of organizing your garage will actually take a little bit of time because you kind of need to know how much stuff you are working with and how much stuff you need to store rather than just going out and getting the storage stuff first.

LILY: Absolutely the biggest mistake people see is when you go out, and you buy all the storage stuff first because you get really excited about that part, but that comes down the track, so make sure to save that for step number 4, and of course if you can shop at home first before going out and spending money and check out things on marketplace, there are so many good you know second hand like shelving and different things you can get on there, you don’t have to go out to the shops and buy full price which is good to you know recycle, upcycle and be using those other second-hand avenues first before buying new.

BONNIE: Yeah, and I mean that it what we have just done when I mentioned we have downsized our garage, we actually had to sell that second set of shelves because we didn’t really need it anymore and it wasn’t going to fit anyway, and it got sold and picked up within like 2 hours, and that lady was so grateful so there is a lot of money to be made out of really practical stuff in the home and garage shelving is definitely one of them.

LILY: Step number 5

BONNIE: So this is your put back step, so once you have done your purchase and you have got the containers that you need maybe you have got labels whether it is handwritten or vinyl or whatever you prefer to use, we then to use post-it just as a temporary thing,

LILY: A chalk pen is another good temporary option

BONNIE: A chalk pen is a great idea if it is a permanent option and you have got great writing do a paint pen because especially on a plastic tub, that will look great and it will stay longer, but if you are not really sure if the categories will

LILY: Yeah, if the categories are maybe going to change and you need to provide space for that, then just go with the more of a temporary labeling system.

BONNIE: Yeah, so posting notes or a chalk pen can be great just as a temporary label, and then you can come back and reassess and review and change things around a little bit later.

LILY: One of the things you are doing in the putback step is, of course, setting up your system, so you are deciding what is going where and how is this going to flow, and it is okay if it doesn’t work in 3 months time, you think this isn’t quite working I need to mix things up that is a very normal part of the organizing process one key part of organizes or course being able to maintain it, and so to maintain it make sure your systems are working, make sure that thinks are labeled, so everybody understands the system.

BONNIE: Yeah, it is a bit like any sort of major changes that you make; it is all about the maintenance at the other end, so once you have put everything back and you have got it labeled, make sure that you change those habits, and when you come home, and you unpack from a camping trip that all the camping stuff goes straight back into their boxes and straight back onto the shelf because otherwise, you will get into the same mess 6-12-18 months down the track, you really need to change those habits first and foremost to be able to maintain a really good space.

LILY: Alright, Bonnie, so what is this week’s tidy task?

BONNIE: So this week’s tidy task if you have a garage graveyard yourself at home is to organize a section in your garage so whether it is your workspace, whether it is a shelf, whether it is an entire shelving section, go through use those 5 Ps, the plan, the pull-out, the purge, the purchase, and the putback, use those 5 steps to help you organize that space and then enjoy that newly organized garage space and hopefully by organizing that space you have been able to get your car back in there if it wasn’t beforehand.

LILY: We hope we have normalized the garage graveyard for you today because it is something that, as Bonnie said, 99.9% of homes have, but the great news is that plenty of homes totally reclaim that space again, and it is easy to do so how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time, so it may seem like a really big job but just go in with a plan, start small, and you will get the garage functioning back to how you want it, but that is it for this week’s episode thank you so much once again for choosing to have Bonnie and I in your ears.

BONNIE: And remember PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION.

LILY: See you later

BONNIE: Bye

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