Organize Your Garage in 5 Easy Steps
April 15, 2018
Every year around this time, we experience an increase in people calling for help with organizing their garage. If you’ve ever had to scrape your windshield, you know why! Here in Michigan, we had our first burst of cold air over Labor Day weekend. If you want to finally store your car in your garage, follow these 5 easy steps:
1. Prepare Ahead of Time – Set aside a day when you are expecting good weather. Make it a family project and get everyone involved. Have plenty of boxes for donation items and garbage bags for trash. Schedule your favorite charity to come and pick-up your donation items a couple of days later.
2. Empty EVERYTHING out into the driveway. As you remove each item, make a decision – toss, donate or keep. If it is toss, put it right in the garbage. If it is donate, put it right into the box, and if it is keep, put it on the driveway.
3. When you have removed it all, clean the garage.
4. Now you are ready to return the contents to your garage. Determine how you plan to use the space in the garage. Designate areas, or zones, for your various categories (e.g. sports equipment, tools, gardening, lawn care, car care, etc.). The saying “a place for everything and everything in its place” applies to every room in your house…including the garage. Consider the following:
- Utilize wall space to maximize floor space.
- Think vertical. Shelving, StoreWall, or grid systems allow you to take advantage of the vertical space, and gets things off the floor.
- Hooks are great and very inexpensive. They can be used for such items as shovels, rakes, bikes, cords, ladders, hoses and lawn chairs.
- Explore specialized garage organization products for things like sports equipment, golf clubs, skis, bikes and lawn & garden. These products will make your life easier and help protect your belongings.
- Don’t ignore the ceiling. You can hang a rack from the ceiling to hold off-season items such as Christmas decorations, boats, picnic tables, etc. You can also hang bikes or ladders from the ceiling.
- If you have kids or pets, store chemicals up high or in locked cabinets.
5. Put It All Back Together – Shop for any needed garage organization products and install if necessary. Return the remaining items to their new designated locations, and label any boxes or containers.
Now that you have completed your garage organizing project, put the donation boxes out for pickup, the trash bags in the bin, and pull your car into your garage. Go inside, put your feet up and have your favorite pizza delivered.
-Donna Lindley, Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Rochester Hills, MI-based Organize Your World, Inc.
For more garage organization ideas visit Organize-It.com.
*Photo shows Classica garage system, courtesy of Organized Living.
52 Things to Toss Right Now
April 9, 2018
52 Things to Throw Away Right Now
Need to get organized? Here’s a tip, there are several components to getting organized: great organizing products (and the skills to implement them), good habits, and reducing the things you don’t need. While we are always open to selling you things, today we would like you to throw some things away (or donate them)…
Expired food cans, spices, dried goods and frozen food
Kitchen utensils you don’t use
Unmatched cultlery pieces
Nasty plastic food storage containers
Old appliances you no longer use
Empty jars and plastic containers of all sorts
Plastic silverware from your takeout dinners (clogging your drawer space)
Spare paper napkins
Empty plastic pots you have been meaning to use but never will
Unused golf and sports equipment
Old car mats that no longer have a car to match
Duplicate tools (if you get organized, you won’t need multiples as you’ll be able to find them)
Wardrobe and Accessories
Socks with holes
T-shirts with stains
Everything that you will never again fit into
T-shirts that pass the quantity of 50 (or choose your number)
Negative reminder clothes (that bad date or argument outfit you want to forget)
Scarves you never wear
Purses you don’t use
Shoes that are worn out or that you never wear
Underwear with holes and tired, stretched out bras
Coats you never wear
Uncomfortable shoes (really, you need to be kind to your feet)
Bath and Vanity
Expired aspirin and medications
Old nail polish
Old shampoos, moisturizers and other toiletries
Hair accessories you don’t use
Yucky old bars of soap
Towels with stains and holes (yes, they make nice rags, but set a limit)
Single (widowed) earrings
Jewelry you just don’t like
Jewelry with broken components
Dusty things (or just dust them, why don’t you?)
Knick knacks that don’t inspire you
Paper Clutter (the bane of most households)
Old newspapers and magazines
Receipts you no longer need (think about digital receipts)
Bills you no longer need
Tax stuff over seven years old
Outdated planners and calendars
Manuals from appliances and things you no longer own
Duplicate photos (or give away or digitize)
Old cell phones
Orphaned cords, plugs, adaptors and wires (you probably have them everywhere if you’re like most humans)
Unused computer monitors
Unused Kindles and tablets
Donating is a great alternative to tossing, but tossing gives you immediate satisfaction and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Also check out our Declutter and Get Paid for It post for more ideas for reducing your belongings and freeing up space.
Declutter and Get Paid for It
March 31, 2018
How to Cash in On Your Clutter
The title may lead you to believe this is about professional organizing or cleaning services. Nope! This is about decluttering your home, car and office and cashing in on it. The old-fashioned ways of unloading unwanted possessions were limited (although sometimes still beneficial) and included consignment shops and yard sales. The internet has exponentially expanded our potential to cash in on our junk, and new venues are always popping up.
Gazelle is a great place to sell your computers, cell phones, and tablets! Dump them here, and put the money in your vacation fund.
Etsy is a good site for crafters, and a lot of people sell collectibles and crafting supplies (plus an odd array of items there). Unlike eBay, they do NOT let you search for sold items, however, so consider carefully if it’s the right venue for your goods. They started as a handcrafted site but have expanded to include a little bit of everything. I recently found an articulated camera arm produced by a home shop (through a web search)—so you never know what you might discover there.
Amazon (and a number of other electronics retailers) will let you trade in your old devices, books, and other items for merchandise credits. You may do better selling on eBay, however, because eBay gives you real cash to spend where you like, or save for a vacation, or… Incidentally, you CAN sell used goods on Amazon as well but it’s probably better suited to retailers than the little guy or gal wanting to make a few bucks.
It’s not the collectibles/virtual flea market it used to be, but there are plenty of customers there, depending on what you sell and I see a bit of everything there from antiques to collectibles, to used household appliances. Brand name clothing and good jeans might be worth selling on eBay. Do a search for sold items to get a ballpark for the marketability of your goods. If you have high-end collectibles, antiques, or art, it might be worth subscribing to Worthpoint for a couple months ($20 a month) to see what the market has been over an eight-year period. The Worthpoint interface lets you refine search results by price and date, which is a great feature. They cull prices, photos, and descriptions from online auctions, and they used to have a free trial week, so you can check it out to see if it will be useful for what you sell.
eBay now has an app that makes selling pretty quick and dirty. Be sure you educate yourself about proper packing and be really thorough in your descriptions so the customers know what they are getting. This package (I received the other day) is proof that you need to pack your items so that, they are protected by two inches of bubble wrap and you prevent the item from moving around in the box: fill every cavity! Boxes get thrown around in trucks and routinely manhandled! You don’t want a buyer angry about damaged merchandise. Also, don’t forget to insure packages…
I see a bit of everything on Facebook, and it’s a good way to sell locally and an alternative to Craigslist. It’s a great way to get rid of furniture and collectibles. Speaking of collectibles, there are lots of hobby groups on Facebook, some of which allow trading, and your goods can be cross listed with the Marketplace for extra exposure. Bear in mind that what you sell there could be viewed publicly (check the TOS before using it). I’ve used Facebook to unload a number of collectibles I was having trouble moving on eBay and, as of today, you don’t have to pay a consignment fee, which is huge.
Good for tools and equipment, lawnmowers and furniture. I see a little bit of everything. There are people who like to barter there (like a lawnmower for a snowmobile). I’ve had mixed luck selling on Craigslist, but whenever I listed something free, it went within hours.
*Safety Tips–When selling locally, be safe. You never know who you’re dealing with. I usually meet someone in a public place (buying or selling) rather than a. going to their location or b. selling from my home. It makes everyone more comfortable, and you don’t have to divulge much about yourself.
There are lots of other online sites to sell household goods including Let Go and others. Ask your friends or do a web search. Let Go also has the benefit of connecting with people locally, receiving cash rather than online money transfers, and not having to deal with shipping or pay consignment fees.
You may not want to be burdened with shipping large heavy items such as furniture, televisions or lawn equipment. These types of articles are better sold locally. Consignment shops are the old-fashioned way to sell merchandise, from clothes to homewares. Like the online venues, they keep a commission. Note that most regularly markdown merchandise on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Be sure to get an inventory and schedule in writing after leaving the merchandise with them. One of the benefits of consignment shops is that it’s less work for you—no shipping or photographing—plus, you don’t have to interact with the customer or be involved in the sale.
If you want to do a big purge in a hurry, a garage sale is definitely the way to go. You may not get as much as on an online site, but you won’t have to be bothered with weighing, packing and shipping. Plus, you can donate whatever you sell to a charity. The advantage is you can dump a BUNCH of stuff at once and be done with it. While you may not get the highest price, people do pay more than they used to for quality goods. I made $350 at the last one I held and rid myself of some burdensome furniture and an unwanted television. I donated what was left over, and it was mostly a pleasant experience, save for the triage of distant neighbors who were switching stickers on fabric bundles.
Donating is the other way to declutter and there are plenty of people who need clothing and homewares. The Purple Heart Foundation and Goodwill are two charities that spring to mind, but there are lots of others, some of which may match your interests or affinities. So you’re probably wondering how you are going to get paid for this. Depending on your income and financial details, you can sometimes write off donations, so be sure to ask for a donation receipt when you drop off those boxes. This personally never worked for me, but I know people who routinely and successfully do it. Advantages to charities: you GET RID OF IT instantly. Also, many will pick up your merchandise, so you don’t even have to lug it to the bin.
I’m a big fan of donating for quick purges but I do sell a lot on eBay and, more recently, through Facebook groups. My thing is collectibles, however. I find that cashing in on something and rewarding myself with a vacation, another experience, or a small gift (while observing the one-in-one-out rule) gives me a little extra motivation to get rid of stuff. I always feel happy seeing a pile of boxes ready to ship and find myself smiling as I add up the cubic feet of freed space as I gaze at the to-ship pile. Note that little rewards work well on kids too, and it’s especially effective in teaching responsibility!
Have fun getting paid to declutter and be safe!