Moms In Charge

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Does Your Garage Pass The Test?

on April 1, 2013

ImageSpecial Guest Post By: Erica Duran, CPO and Productivity Expert

Have you ever had to move your household?  If you have you probably couldn’t believe all the stuff you had accumulated over the years.

If you know me at all you know I LOVE moving!  Most people dread moving but every spring my lease seems to be up and around February or March I start getting excited and looking around for new places – except for when I spent eight years on the beach – that place was hard to leave. 😉  If I don’t move one year, I actually pretend that I am moving and go through every cabinet and drawer to de-clutter and have it deep cleaned.  Anyway, the point is, when I go new home shopping I ask for place without a garage!  For me, a garage is a potential place for clutter to start breeding!

What is the state of your garage?  Is it serving its purpose?  When you drive up to it do you feel like the walls are closing in on you and your energy is instantly drained?

Take my Garage Test and see how your garage is serving you…

Keep count of how many questions you answer in a “Yes”.

1.  Is your $10,000++ car living outside because you are storing things that are not good enough to be in the house in your garage?  I am sure those exiled household items are not worth what you spent on your car.

2.  Are there a lot of plastic storage bins or other types of boxes?  I always tell my clients, “If it has to go in a bin, it isn’t used frequently enough, and you should REALLY consider passing it on to someone else.”  Plan a day to go through all your bins and really access if the items are worth the space and upkeep.

3.  Is there excessive holiday and seasonal decor?  Is something you display once a year worth all that hassle of storing, unpacking, setting it up, taking it down, cleaning it, packing it back up.  And, when you really think about it does anyone else really care how many holiday decorations you have out?  Is there a way you can use natural items instead like flowers, pumpkins, and pine cones to get in the holiday spirit instead of plastic or ceramic decorations?

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4.  Do you have items from an abandon hobby stored in the garage?  Our lifestyles change so gradually sometimes we don’t even know when we gave up a hobby we once enjoyed.  Did you golf? Camp? Have a fish tank? SCUBA? Ski?  It is OK to sell these items or give them away.  You are probably not going to get re-interested in the hobby and when/if you do there will be a whole new kind or technology out there so you have the latest and greatest gear.  Getting rid of these abandon interests renews your energy by not staring at you when you open your garage making you feel guilty.  Make room for new interests and experiences in your life.

5.  Do you have anything that belongs to someone else that you are storing in your garage?  Let’s say your child went off to college and you turned their room into a yoga studio.  But, they told you they would be back to get their “stuff” for their new apartment.  Problem is…that was four years ago and the stuff is still in your garage!  Call or email the person who you are harboring the stuff for and give them a deadline to come and get it.  If they don’t make the deadline, let them know that the stuff will be sold or given to a charity.

6.  Are there any large items that are seldom used?  A Ping-Pong table?  An air hockey game?  A table saw that was bought with good intentions of fulfilling a long honey-do list?

7.   Are there any baby clothes or baby furniture in your garage?  Thinking that you may have another baby someday, or can’t bring yourself to get rid of your little one’s clothing?  In reality, you know you will get new gifts when a new baby is on its way.  And, what if your next baby is the other gender?  Pass these items on to babies in need and create space for a new life.

8.  Are you holding onto items just because they belonged to a loved one that has passed away?  Sentimental feelings are strong, but the deceased wouldn’t want you to be crowded out of your own house!  Keep one or two things that you really enjoy having and remind you of the person and display them in respect – no need to keep their life treasures in a dusty garage.

9.  Clothes that no longer fit, have stains, have holes or rips, or have a bad feeling or emotion associated with them.  Clothes with stains and holes should not even be donated – those poor people have enough problems!  Bad memories associated with your high school sweater or prom dress?  Now is the time to let that stuff go both emotionally and physically.  Are you holding onto clothes that no longer fit?  When you do loose the weight most likely your body will be in a slightly different shape and the clothes won’t fit you as well even though the weight is gone.  Reward yourself with new clothes as an incentive to your weight loss goal.  Also, clothes that have been in storage just don’t seem right when you take them out.  They are usually musty and faded, etc.

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10.  Do you store old cleaners, paint, car stuff, etc.  Most garages have an excess of old cleaning products  – and I know your are using the environmental and hormone friendly ones, right?  Old paint?  You can always take a paint chip to the hardware store and get a fresh batch mixed.  Old car care supplies for a car you no longer have or you no longer use because you found it more productivity-minded to have the dealer take care of your car needs.  Just be sure to discard the old paint, cleaners, and car supplies at an authorized eco-friendly location.

11.  Scraps and extra parts taking up space?  Saving pieces of wood in case you can use it “someday”?  Still have all those extra screws and parts from a piece of IKEA furniture you put together years ago?  These items are just taking up space and energy in most households and I am betting that if you needed one of those extra screws you wouldn’t be able to find it anyway.

12.  Gardening and lawn care items still lurking in your garage but you’ve opted to have a landscaper take care of your outside living space?  You figured out that it was a good idea to not spend your hard-earned Saturday taking care of the lawn, but your gardener brings all his own supplies as part of his service.  Pass these items on to a neighbor that could use these supplies.

So, how did you do?  Add up the number of questions you said “yes” to.  Here is the scale:

9-12 questions answered in a Yes = I am sorry but you have a major project on your hands.  This will not, and should not be tackled in one weekend of overly ambitious thoughts by taking everything out of the garage at once to go through, sort, decide what to keep and then trying to put everything back in an organized fashion.  Attempting the all-or-nothing approach will be too daunting and exhausting for one weekend.  For this escalated clutter situation, you need to break your garage into zones and then schedule yourself to work on each zone in four-hour increments so as to not get overwhelmed or burnt out on your garage transformation project.

5-8 questions answered in a Yes = Be careful!  If you’ve lived in the same home for a number of years this amount of clutter is understandable but not necessary.  It is time to nip it in the bud!  Go through your items in your garage and make sure everything is serving the life you are living now!  Be tough with yourself!  It may help to ask yourself “If I were moving next week, would this item be worth the time and money to pack, move and unpack?

1-4 questions answered in a Yes = You are doing great!  There are a few items in your garage that are rarely used but I bet they are pretty well organized.  You know what you have and where to find it.  You are good at regularly going through your stuff and weeding it out for a sale or charity.  But, I challenge you to just go through everything and double check for things you can release out of your life.

About Erica Duran:

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Erica Duran is a Productivity Expert and Certified Professional Organizer CPO®. She has been a veteran entrepreneur for over 21 years consulting large companies and creating several of her own ventures.

She is working with Franklin-Covey Orange County to include a planning system in all her productivity packages including a set of 12 customized tabs outlining in detail her Streamline Your Success® program.

Erica Duran is the creator of BrainStorm™, where groups all over the world meet for networking and master minding.   She is also the Area Coordinator for The Heart Link Network of Newport Beach & is a member of NAPO, BCPO, and NAWBO National & Orange County, CA.

For more about Erica, visit her website at: http://www.ericaduran.co 

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