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Organizing Outdoor Storage Areas

I like to take this time of year to organize the storage areas that are outside of my home. The weather is beginning to be more comfortable to work in these areas. I’m ready to stash some just summer gear and look at what I have that I might want to clean up and prepare to use for extra seating and extra tables for Thanksgiving.

Outside storage areas easily become cluttered. Because they are not part of your daily living area it is so easy to just open the door and shove something into that space with the idea of taking care of it later.

I have a small storage area off the carport and a shed in the back yard. The small storage area can be done in one session, but the shed will need several. Look at your storage areas and figure out how long it will take you to declutter, clean, and look for any structural damage. Your area might include your garage or carport.

Schedule dates on your calendar to complete this project.

Before you begin your actual work, take a long look at what is in there now. Be clear on how you want to use this storage space.

Do you want to:

· Park your car

· Store trash cans and/or recycling bins

· Store gardening supplies

· Have a workbench for potting plants or working on projects

· Store tools

· Store bikes and/or sports equipment

· Store entertainment supplies

· Store extra household products

Anything that is currently in this area that does not match up with how you plan on using the area, should be removed.

Empty the area you are working in. If it is a small area, you can completely empty it but for larger areas only empty what you can clean and replace during your scheduled time.

Clean the empty area and look for any structural damage. Knock down cobwebs and sweep the floor. Wipe down shelves.

Designate zones for each category. If you are using this area to park your car, pull in the car and open the doors. Mark with tape the area you need to keep clear so that you can easily use your car. Then decide where each category of items will be stored in the remaining space. Put frequently used items like yard and lawn care near the exit door. Put less used items toward the back. Have walkways between areas so that you can reach everything without having to shuffle items.

As you are cleaning one area and you come across items that belong in a different area in the storage unit, set them aside until you get to that area. Get rid of any items you are no longer using or that are broken.

Once you have sorted and cleaned the area you are working on for the day, return all items that belong in that zone. Look for containers to hold small like items together such as a bin or basket for gardening gloves, trowels, and other hand tools. Use shelves, pegboards, hooks, and nails to keep most items off the floor. Avoid stacking containers because for sure you will want something that is in the bottom container. Label all containers that are not clear or obvious.

When done for the day reward yourself. A cool shower and nice drink could be the perfect reward.

You will be amazed as to how much room there is in your storage areas now that all items are grouped together and containerized.

Having your area zoned out and organized will make it easier to maintain. Instead of just opening a door and putting something down, you will have a designated area where it belongs and a pathway to easily reach the zone.

If you recognize that you are struggling with completing an organizational project and want some help or accountability, join Diane Quintana and me in our Clear Space for You virtual support group.

Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of four books as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients.

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