Pegboard of tools in an organized garage

What does it take to declutter and organize my garage?

An Adventurer’s Headquarters

Marco Polo, Lewis and Clarke, Ferdinand Magellan; you. The great explorers and adventurers of history, what do they all have in common? They needed to keep their gear stored somewhere, for most of them it was probably a warehouse, docked boat, or barn, but for you, it’s your garage. 

It’s where most of the important gear lives that shouldn’t be in the clean house. Thus, it all lives in the garage, and often piles up one thing after another which makes finding anything in the cluttered jungle an adventure of its own. Garages quickly become disorganized because of the magnificent amount of available space. This often results because everything in there is, more or less, out of sight so you begin to care less and less about how it looks until it’s taken over and the car can’t be parked in there anymore. As the pile-up continues your conviction to organize dwindles more and more due to the daunting task set before you.

However, you must attack the clutter! You’re an adventurer, and adventures need their gear organized and easily accessible so they can pick up and go on a moment’s notice. One never knows when opportunity will strike! So let’s dive into how to organize your garage, and keep all your important gear ready for action.

Section Off Quadrants Of The Garage

There’s likely not much rhyme or reason to how everything is scattered across your garage. How are you supposed to know where anything is? It’s time to have the ability to step into your garage and B-line for exactly what you need.

The first step to organize your gear so you are optimally prepared for an adventure is to start by sectioning off the space so everything has a place to live. For instance, place your tools in one cabinet or, if you have a tool bench, they are paired with and near the tool bench. If you go camping, all the camping gear is in one distinct and separate area. It’s important to Separate groups of items because if it’s not clearly separated then things might start to slowly bleed into another area and completely throw your system out of whack. It also becomes easier to access things when you know exactly where to go to search for something.

Other possible sections to think about: 

Biking gear

Hiking hear

Kayaking gear

Christmas decorations

Halloween decorations

Car maintenance equipment

Which you could narrow down further to washing equipment and mechanical equipment

Cleaning supplies

Pet stuff

Make It Easy 

Once you know what sections you’ll have it’s now time to map out what the optimal setup will be. Do you hang stuff from the wall, do you build in cabinets, do you hang stuff from the ceiling? When it’s time to give each item a home, basically what city(section) does each item live in when it is time to look.

Sometimes it’s easier to think of organization as ‘make it easy,’ by thinking about how you’re just trying to make everything easier for yourself, in the long run, may make you more excited to complete the project because organization can feel intimidating.

Everything Must Have Its Place

Once you understand this principle, your life will change tremendously in a more positive way. It makes life so much easier to instinctively know where something is going to be because you gave it a home and didn’t charge it a mortgage to live there. 

To be clear, this isn’t as easy with limited space, so it’s always recommended to get rid of everything that is non-essential, try to take notice of the stuff you haven’t touched for 10+ years. Just let it go, you’ll be happier as time goes on. 

From there, take what you have and start laying it all out in it’s designated quadrant. Once you’ve grouped everything and have a general idea of how it should be mapped out you can start to formulate ideas of the best way to store it. What I mean by mapped out is lay each item in the area it will go, this gives you a direct visual representation of how it will fit in the space and what kind of container to make or get for it/them.  

For instance, tools on a pegboard. 

Pelican cases with foam cutouts for each item.

pelican case for organization

You can also keep it simple and just lay things down on a shelf and draw a line around them or build a rim around it with wood, plastic, or rubber. 

Giving each item a designated place will help prevent you from losing anything and will help to keep things organized so that it never reverts to the old state of chaos. It will also allow you to grab what you need when you need, it in record time.

Small Adjustments Over Time 

When you finally get done the first time, soak it in! Feel the accomplishment. If it takes you 3-4 months don’t stress, this is a big adventure in and of itself, it is okay to span it out over a longer period of time. 

With that, when you’re done, you’re probably not actually done. I know that’s not the best news to hear, but over the course of the next year or two pay close attention to any small frustrations or inconsistencies. The organization you have just accomplished will help, but now it’s time to optimize. As you identify minute frustrations in your organizational system make small adjustments as needed. Each small improvement will make a tremendous difference. Organization is all about iterating so don’t worry eventually it will be perfect and you’ll have an organized garage for the rest of your life! 

Go Adventure

Now that your garage is organized you are ready to explore the world and all it has to offer. Create bike expeditions to the park with the kids, or maybe a fun camping trip to Bartlett lake in Scottsdale Arizona. Whatever your adventure may be, once your garage is organized and your gear is tidy, you’ll be ready for anything.