Organizing Outside Storage Areas

Although here in Georgia temperatures continue to spike into the 90’s on some days, there are now some cooler days and the promise of fall. This promise inspires us to organize our sheds, garages, and other outside storage areas. It’s time to stash our summer equipment and muck out the debris that has been tracked in. 

Storage areas can get pretty messy and unorganized in a year. They are not in your main living area and therefore not so visible and annoying. It’s easy just to walk in and dump items “just for now”. This is especially true if you have purchased some new items that don’t really have a “home” yet.

Before you start on your project, take a good look at the way it is now. Notice what is working (don’t mess with that area) and what is not working. Envision how you want to use this zone. Your vision might include a place to:

  • park your car
  • store trash cans/recycling
  • store gardening tools and accessories
  • pot or repot plants
  • work on projects and store tools
  • store bikes and other sports equipment/outdoor games/camping gear
  • store outdoor entertainment supplies
  • store extra household products

Bring everything outside or if this is a large or very filled area, pull out stuff by sections. Sort like with like. Notice if you have duplicates or near duplicates of some items. See what is broken and decide if you really need to replace it or to trash it. Make note of what you have not used at all this past year. Give away or sell tools you no longer use. The Tool Bank is a great place to donate tools for community projects. (http://toolbank.org) Get rid of expired seeds or old chemicals.

Next decide where to logically place your zones. Items that are used frequently are best stored near entrances. Seldom used items can go to the back of the storage area. As you group your items in each zone, look for containers to hold small items together. A clear shoebox without the lid can hold gardening gloves. A flat basket can hold small gardening tools. Use shelves, pegboards, hooks, and nails to keep items off the floor. Avoid stacking containers because, for sure, you are going to want something that is in the bottom container. Label containers that are not clear.

Knock down cobwebs, look for any structural damage, sweep the floor, and start putting things away. You’ll be amazed at how much room there is now that all the items have been purged, bunched together and logically stored. 

Now, reward yourself! A hot shower and a cool drink might be just the thing.

Reclaiming Your Laundry Room Zone

Laundry zones get a lot of heavy usage. They can be large or small and can be located in many places in homes. Some older homes have laundry zones in the basement. I remember my mother’s was in the basement and even had a laundry chute where clothes could be dropped from either the main level or upper level of the house and end up in the basket in the basement. ( I believe a cat or two also got a laundry chute ride.) Some are at the top of the stairs behind folding doors. I’ve seen them in closets off hallways or next to the closet in a master bedroom. Mine is a small storage room/laundry zone off the kitchen. What you don’t want to see is mounds of clothes migrating into adjoining areas. 

Keeping up with the laundry becomes less of a chore with a well organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the never-ending influx of dirty clothes. The idea is to keep the laundry moving. Only bring to the laundry zone, the items you intend to wash right away. Leave everything else in the designated dirty clothes hampers. As soon as the tub is washed, get it in the dryer or drying rack. And as soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their “home”. Delegate putting items away to the family member who owns the items. Even young children can sort and put clothes away. If an item needs repair or ironing, have a designated place to store those items and then schedule a time to do that task. You really don’t want your holiday table cloth in the ironing bin in August. 

A stack of colored laundry baskets is a handy way to sort clean clothes for each member of the family and one for the bath/bed linens. When laundry is taken out of the dryer and folded, immediately put it in the correct basket. Each family member can pick up their baskets, put their clothes away, and return the basket. 

Maximize your area by installing shelves or using over the door storage. You’ll want your laundry soap, dryer sheets, stain removers, sponges, and scrubbing brushes near your washer. If you buy your detergent in large containers, transfer some into smaller containers that are easier to handle and will less likely be spilled. Post a stain-removal chart on the wall. Make sure your area is well lit.

Have a container handy for tossing in items you find in pockets or loose buttons. If possible, have your ironing board, iron, and water spray bottles in this location.

It’s wonderful if you have counter space to fold clothes but if you don’t, you can use a table in a nearby room as long as you remove the clothes right after folding them. A bar or  bracket to hang hangers for shirts taken out of the dryer in useful. It does not have to be large but just enough to hold what would come out of one load (because, of course, you are going to immediately put them away ;-} )

Whether you do laundry daily or once a week, have a planned time scheduled to handle it. That keeps laundry from accumulating in heaps around the laundry zone.

Having this zone organized  may not make you love to do laundry but it certainly will make it less of a chore. 

The Importance of Ongoing Downsizing

 

 

I am continually downsizing. I’ve had a few life events where the downsizing was intense. The first one came after a divorce. My husband was a packrat and I was overwhelmed with stuff. When I moved out of the home, I basically only took what I needed to live. Then about 5 years ago, I remarried, and both my new husband and I had homes that while not overpacked or huge were full and of course, we had duplicates in housewares and lawn care items. We both recognize that less stuff in our homes makes for less work. So, again, I did a pretty big purge as did he.

Every year, I go through each part of my home and get rid of a bit more. I have earmarked a few things I think my children would like. I have made notes of any item that has a real monetary value, so they won’t have to guess. Recently, I have started going through family pictures and when I have both sons visiting, I go through a tub of them and ask what ones they would like to keep. Then I give the pictures to them on the spot. If they don’t want old family pictures, I now just let them go. I keep personal photographs of my trips and memories, but the boys know that when I pass, they can just get rid of them as they are my memories and not theirs.

My husband and I are also very careful about not buying what we don’t need. While I enjoy and love the items in our home, there is nothing I can think of that would devastate me if I lost it. We both like books but we keep our collection fluid. We pass on to others most of the books we buy. 

It is very freeing not to be tied down by our possessions.

I was recently forwarded a very good article by Jennifer Karami. After she helped move her grandmother into her retirement home, she wrote this for Redfin Real Estate Company.
https://www.redfin.com/blog/senior-guide-for-decluttering/.

I would love to hear about your downsizing experiences – both the wins and the struggles.

Why I Use the Zone Plan

What is the Zone Plan?

Using the Zone Plan, I divide my home into 10 zones. Each month (except for July and December) I focus on that one zone. I begin by revisiting my vision for the area. I make a list of what I want to accomplish. I schedule time on my calendar to work through the tasks. During that month I touch everything in that zone and give the area a good deep cleaning. I have a teleclass with a group that works on their own zones and projects and that gives us all accountability.

What are the benefits of using the Zone Plan?

  • At the end of the year, I have touched everything in my home. I have made a decision about every object – to keep or to cull and how to store it.
  • It keeps my home fresh. As I start work on each zone, I notice anything that I no longer love or anything that is bugging me and I develop a plan to change it. I might paint a wall or change out a picture. I might play with the lighting. By the end of the month, I am in love with that zone again.
  • No spring cleaning because I do it all year round in the zone I am working. 
  • I visit every part of my home, from attic to out of sight storage. This can give me a heads up on some problems my home might have.  Moldy boots in a spare bedroom closet? (better see where that dampness is coming from) Rodent droppings in the attic? (better call pest control) Dampness under the sink in the kitchen? (better call the plumber) None of these problems can be very old as the zone was done last year.
  • By focusing mainly on just one zone, I give myself permission to not overly concern myself with other parts of my home. If I open my linen closet and it looks a bit messy, instead of jumping right in and fixing it all now, I say “Your turn is in June,” and use my time on something else.

I love the feeling I get at the end of the month when I stand back and look at my freshly cleaned and organized zone.