At the end of each day, I post a recap of what happened and what progress I made. I try to be as detailed as possible when tracking the project.
I opened the door to the garage today for the first time in approximately seven years. Although I vaguely remembered what the garage looked like, I was no where near prepared for what I saw.
Number of hours spent: 8
Supplies purchased: None
Amount spent: $0
Number of (13-gallon kitchen) bags trashed: 2
Number of giveaway boxes: 3
First thing this morning, for some strange reason I started working on some high shelves in the laundry room. Every single item on the highest shelf is boxed and unopened. 80% of them are Christmas items. All of them were either intended to be given as Christmas gifts or were received as a Christmas gift and left unopened for regifting. It’s been at least three years since these items have been touched.
I basically just put these items into giveaway boxes and brought them to the storage unit.
Then I opened the door to the garage. Here’s a rough drawing of what my garage looks like:
And here’s what I actually saw when I opened the door:
I walked around to the outside and opened the garage door. Here’s how it looks from the outside:
This is the part where I go, “What in the world did I get myself into?”
What I observed about the garage:
- Because it is the largest area or room of the entire house, it has the most stuff overall to sort through.
- However, the percentage of stuff per square foot is actually far less than some of the other rooms in the house.
- Looking through some papers in a box closest to the door to the garage, the most recent dated object I found so far was a paper marked January 2003. So…
- Normally, if we haven’t used any of this stuff in over the past year chances are that we won’t use them in the following year. If that’s the case, all of the stuff should be thrown out or given. But…
- I also need to go through the stuff for important documents, old photos to keep, and other items on the guidelines my family gave me on stuff to keep. I’ll write about these guidelines and my criteria for keeping in a later post.
- Most of the stuff in the garage is more or less grouped together to be donated or given away. This is because when we tried to clean our house before all of our donation bags & boxes went to the garage then never left.
- Although most of the stuff is “sorted,” some of the bags and boxes have either deteriorated, broken, or are simply stacked in an unstable and fragile way.
All of these factors will make cleaning out the garage easy from a time & effort standpoint yet mentally and emotionally challenging.
Upon seeing the garage I immediately felt overwhelmed and almost discouraged. Where do I even begin? How do I organize all of this stuff? Why do we have so many packages of toilet paper? I took some time away from the garage to brainstorm and map out a plan of action. My initial thought-burst resulted in three possible ways to get through the stuff.
- Work it like a clock. Start at the door to the garage, divide it into imaginary sections that are each 25% of the garage, them sort my way clockwise by section. Or I could go counter-clockwise.
- Work it like a printer. Start at the garage door, then sort through stuff horizontally. The pattern of motion I’m thinking of is like a printer, a line at Six Flags, or a TSA line at the airport.
- Work it Buddhism-style. Create a pathway from the door to the garage, down the middle and out the garage door. A middle path, if you will. This would make trips from inside the house out to the storage unit so much easier. Then I could sort by:
- Spreading the path outwards or
- Spreading the path one side at a time
I knew if I just got started without having a plan, I’d probably go nuts and often feel overwhelmed. After a while of just envisioning the possible methods, I decided to use NONE of the possibilities listed above, at least not yet. Instead, I’m going to make a path from the door to the garage to the right corner where our broken water heater is then continue along the right side of the garage to the garage door. I marked it in blue below:
This still creates an easier way from the house to the storage unit, but it also creates a path to the back yard. Hopefully this will encourage my parents to fix our broken water heater sooner rather than later. I mean, cold showers is fine when its 100+ degrees (F) outside because some of the heat gets to the pipes. But in the 40-50 degree winters? Not so much.
This plan is all I’ve got so far. I’m still deciding if I want to “printer it” going left or if I want to “clock it” counter-clockwise. I’ll just figure that out when I’m done with the pathway. One thing at a time.
It was noon by the time I actually got to work on the garage. The temperature outside was already 90+ degrees (F) making my work really unbearable. I had to stop every 30 minutes or so to take off my mask and gloves and sit to drink some water. I was completely spent after only a couple hours; I totally passed out and spent 45 minutes taking one of those naps that feels like you slept an entire evening.
Sadly my visible progress was minimal and I have no “after” photos to show you today. Tomorrow? I hope so.
In retrospect, what the heck was I thinking working on the laundry area first? I should have started the garage in the morning when it was cooler, then work on the laundry area inside the house where there’s AC later in the day. Ah well. Live and learn.
My dad came home at one point today with a package he received. Yay. More stuff. After he set it down, he went to refrigerator at ate the last of the strawberries we had. Then he rinsed out the plastic container it was in, held it up, and wondered aloud, “Hm, what can I use this container for?” He paused, then put the container on the dining table for saving.
I don’t know what to do about that one.