Of all the rooms in our home, the one that accumulates clutter the fastest seems to be the garage. Maybe it’s because we pull the car in quickly. We’re only in the space for a few seconds. Maybe it’s because it’s not air-conditioned or heated, making it a real chore to clean in most months. Or maybe it’s because the items that are placed there are the ones in limbo. You know what I mean. You can’t throw them out easily or you would. That piece of furniture that holds some memories but doesn’t fit the décor of the home. The box of old magazines holding some articles you marked for some reason or another. A nice shelf lined with old shoes that may still fit but have long passed the glory days. Of course, you knew at the time you dropped these items in this state of limbo that they would never return to inside the house.
The clutter built up so slowly that it was unnoticed. We didn’t talk about it like we would if something inside needed to be cleaned up.
I’m guessing that most everyone has a space like this. Last weekend, I spent a marathon cleaning session in the garage. The shoes ended up donated to Soles4Souls. The clothes went to Goodwill. Other items were sent for recycling or to the trash.
I worked non-stop with my characteristic obsession. When I have a goal in mind, I can’t seem to stop. I don’t want to stop. I even worked through most of the night in order to get it all done.
In the end, I surprised my wife. We walked into the garage and felt good. A clean, uncluttered space brings a peace that is difficult to explain. Now when I pull into the garage, I am calmer. And that entry way into the home is the first thing that helps set your mood when you return home.
1. Set a big goal. Most experts will tell you to start with something small. Start with a single shelf. From that success, you will gain confidence. That’s not for me. I like to set the task and go for it all at once. I think it depends on your own personality, so know yourself.
2. Start. Just do something. For me, many of the things placed there were the ones that were in limbo. What to do with them wasn’t easy which is why they were sitting there.
3. Develop a test. I always use these three questions as a test:
- Is this something I would want movers to box, pack and move into a new house? This works regardless of whether or not you ever plan to move.
- Is this something I have used in the last year? If not, the only time to take care of it is now.
- Is this something that could be used by someone else? If it could, and I’m not using it, I’m depriving someone else.
4. You must be unrelenting in your passion and drive. The test works when your mindset is focused. Use the energy and the mood to do the uncomfortable.
5. When you are done, go one step further than you normally would. In my case, we are planning to repaint the garage. That will reinforce the good feelings, and it will make it more likely that we will keep out the clutter.
Now, whatever that place is for you where you keep the things in limbo, I encourage you to take action on it soon. You will be celebrating and feeling more peace when you do.
And the lessons I learned from cleaning out my garage really apply to all goals:
Set a big goal. Take action. Be honest by developing a test for yourself. Be relentless. Take it one step further.