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Organize for a Fresh Start

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FALL OF 1979 found me a little out of step with what I’d known all my life. This was the first September I had not gone “back to school.” While being in my first professional job was an exciting new beginning, I missed the fresh start that came along each fall with new school supplies, books and classes.

Like students, middle-aged homeowners can find a different fresh start amid the crisp mornings and warm afternoons of fall. As we prepare to spend more time indoors this winter, the dreaded garage screams “It’s fall — clean me.” Over the carefree days of summer, the family tossed things into the garage willy-nilly, and the result was dangerous: wobbly stacks that looked like they could topple at any moment. Never meant to be the final resting spot, the garage has become a source of frustration as we stumble over “stuff” trying to get to the cars, storage or to do the laundry.

Postponed forever?
We accumulate according to the varied seasons of our lives, and at our house, these accumulations tend to gather in the garage. Things get parked there while someone in the family ponders its fate. Yes, clutter is the result of postponed decisions. While that “truly amazing vegematic” is gathering dust in the garage, it attracts cousins, and they aren’t cars.

What is the psychological impact of a cluttered space? Here’s one scenario: As you pull the car into the garage — it’s a squeeze to open the car door, and you have to go around the back of the car to get into the house. All this stuff is in the way! You feel burdened and even a little scared about what lurks in those boxes. Who lives here anyway? Can one exercise control over her space?

Time to divide and conquer the garage. Thankfully, twice a year, the local garbage company schedules free refuse/cleanup days. Nothing like a deadline to get us moving. The Murrays are not by nature early risers; however, we have a better attitude and energy in the morning — hint: be aware of your energy peaks and valleys. So we figured a jump start on the garage before my daughter’s soccer game would be a good thing. We wouldn’t start the project tired at the end of the day, or working on a weeknight to get ready for the pickup –on a date we could not choose.

Working in shifts
It need not be an all-consuming project. We worked for two hours before leaving for the game, and returned later and worked for another hour. Sunday arrived, and we spent another couple of hours, leaving plenty of weekend hours to relax and do something else.

Hint: Tackle the project in pieces. Organize one section at a time, perhaps the sports equipment. When you find some garden tools stuck in with balls, simply set it in the “goes somewhere else” pile; keep working on the sports area until it’s in order. Sorting is a vital task to bringing order to your space.

Was the tower of stacking bins containing my children’s baby things still a keeper? Yes, they are stored well and have value to me. But were we going to use dated business supplies and equipment? No, it took lots of room and found its way to the curbside pick up. We said bye to a chair that was unsafe, and wall hangings no longer to our taste. A bike rack was installed, freeing up aisle space and keeping the bikes more secure. Water toys the girls hadn’t played with in several summers were given away. The car was fully loaded with donations for a charitable organization.

Be careful about what you store in the garage. It’s disappointing to store an item in the garage, only to find it damaged by bugs, moisture, dust, or smashed because of improper storage. Plastic bins are the best option for a garage. We noticed my husband’s travel golf bag was covered in dust and decided a zipped plastic cover was right on par.

Now there’s room for things that you’d like to protect from the winter rains and colder temperatures. And you’ve got your fresh start.