Garage organizing plan of attack

Garage organizing plan of attack

My garage has become a dumping ground and now I can’t find the things I really need.

The garage feels overwhelming to me at this point.

Can you please help us get our garage organized?

Summer is garage organizing season. Get Organized Already has the best team in town, but maybe you don’t live in our town! Or maybe your family needs a project to do together. Going through the memorabilia in a garage is actually really fun; an opportunity ripe for family bonding.
Whatever the case, here are some basic steps to organize your storage space.
Set aside twice as much time as you think it will take. Then add on an hour the following day to take all the donations and e-waste away. Also use that time to call for heavy pick-up or to list sale items on Craig’s List.
Before you start:
Think about what you want the garage or room to be used for. Give it a purpose in your mind or set a goal such as, “We want the camping gear to be easy to access.” This small intention will help you more than you might think.
Designate a big space in the yard or driveway where you will sort the stuff into categories.
Gather trash bins and trash bags for donations.
Don’t buy bins or boxes until you see what you need them for.
protip: Never buy organizing supplies until after you purge. Treat shopping as the reward for purging if that works for you. 95% of the time, you will be able to get by with supplies you already have.
 W garage L before 2
Everything out and purge:
Start in one corner of your space and move systematically around the room.
Put things into general categories (kids, memorabilia, tools, etc) in the yard/driveway as you go. When our team does a garage we make exceptions for large items or areas which are already well organized. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just leave those things where they are and move on.
protip: Label the piles on the ground to keep everyone on the same page. If the piles are labeled (with blue painters’ tape or 3×5 cards) you can say thing like,

Put that wagon in the for sale section.

instead of having to walk over to the for sale section and point it out to people who are helping you. This small luxury of being able to point instead of walk will add up over the day.
protip: When a donation bag gets full, put it straight into your car.
Scheduling with Friends:
Trick 1-2 organized friends into coming over to “hang out” that day. Then take them out to a delicious lunch at break time.
Start early in the morning and take a break after about 3 hours. You’ll know it’s time to break when you start picking up the same 4 objects repeatedly and your eyes start to glaze over.
Break and re-group:
It’s time for lunch! Determine if you need plastic bins, shelves, hooks or other storage solutions. Make a list that includes measurements and even pictures of where the items will go. Take lunch and go buy only what you need. If you don’t need to go to the store, donate what’s in your car on your way to lunch. Getting away from the project is important for an all-day extravaganza like a garage.
Power through:
This part goes faster, so pump yourself up to get everything back in your space.
Put the categories back together with least used things in the back and popular stuff up front.
Label all containers that aren’t obvious. For spaces with multiple users, label the shelf as well so people know where to put things back when they are done. GENIUS.
Get yourself a treat. You did it!
Take an after photo and send it to me.
W garage L after 2

I heart my professional organizer! a testimonial

A 2-minute video testimonial from Marge about working with a professional organizer from Get Organized Already–the fabulous Michelle!

We help nice people get organized.

Get organized in the new year: How to start

If you are reading this, I’m guessing you would like to be more organized this year.

Here is a pro tip for a jump start on all of your organizing projects:

Find a pile of things anywhere in the house or garage that has already been set aside because you don’t need it–a donation bin, a bag of recycling. Put it in your car right now. DON’T EVEN FINISH READING THIS SENTENCE. Go put that bag/box/pile in the front seat of your car.

local thrift shop

So many people have a pile of things waiting… waiting to be donated to the perfect person; waiting to be sorted into sizes to give away; waiting to be given to the perfect charity.

Forget waiting! It’s the new year. We are done with waiting. We are doing.

Once you take that pile out of your house you will see  immediately how much better the space feels and you’ll be inspired to keep organizing.

Here’s a partial list of great places to take that stuff in the Pasadena area: (If you live far from Pasadena, work a little google magic for yourself using the ideas below)

Goodwill Donation Centers   They also take: e-waste, corroded batteries, broken electronics (be sure to label them as e-waste), computers (will be wiped of all data).

Out of the Closet  They do not take baby or kid items in general.

Try your local thrift store. Do you have a favorite shop in town? Please tell me in the comments.

For items which a local thrift shop will not take, try:

lots of cardboard

Get Organized Already will take away as much as we can fit into our cars when we work for you

The SAFE Center  They accept pills, hazardous waste, paint, oil, and batteries.

4600 Colorado Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90039  Saturdays and Sundays 9 – 3

Take your bulk recycling to a grocery store parking lot center for money, or to the

Caltech Recycling CenterCaltech Recycling Center in the parking lot of E Del Mar at S Wilson Pasadena, CA 91107  Monday – Friday, 8-6; Saturday – Sunday, 10-6

Only bring pre-sorted items here. The bins are labeled by recycle #. It’s a great place to bring a ton of cardboard.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Highland Park  They have a food bank for local people and will accept any reasonable food or cleaning supplies (even if opened).

5619 Monte Vista St. Los Angeles, CA 90042 (Closed Mondays)

Habitat for Humanity Restore  Donate items from your garage here.

770 N. Fair Oaks Pasadena, CA 91103 626.792.3838

And one bonus tip from my friend Jonathan:

San Gabriel Valley pickup for metal tanks that once had content under pressure, like helium or propane.  888-253-2652

Happy New Year and here’s to becoming organized. I support that.


Get Organized Already! promo video

I’d love to hear from you about your organizing needs.


Nonnahs (and the Get Organized Already team)

(Organized) Moving Services for Pasadena and NE Los Angeles

(Organized) Moving Services for Pasadena and NE Los Angeles

Summer is moving season and my phone is ringing off the hook! Get Organized AlreadyTM specializes in making this stressful time a little less harried and maybe even fun. We love helping people move. So bringing that positive energy into your house has got to be good for something! Right?

Being organizers, we especially love to unpack and set up your new place quickly and, of course, in an orderly fashion. We do packing jobs as well, taking care to label Label LABEL so your unpack goes smoothly. If you would like to thin out your belongings before they get put into boxes, please call us. Moving is easier when it’s organized.

Here are a few other local companies our Get Organized AlreadyTM teams have worked with recently in Los Angeles and Pasadena. I highly recommend the following:

traditional packing and transporting

Pure MovingPure Moving does an amazing job. 

Everything is included in their rate: truck, gas, blankets, wardrobe boxes, unlimited wrap and tape. Wow! They don’t add any sneaky fees for stairs, assembling, disassembling, wrapping, narrow hallway, long walking distances. (Some movers do this, you know. For shame! But not these guys.) They sound almost as good as Get Organized Already!TM  Call 800.816.5121
Rates- from $75-135/hour for packers and a truck 

donating large pieces and stuff from the garage

Habitat for HumanityThe Habitat for Humanity Restore is amazing. I think of them as the Goodwill for your garage items. They aren’t a small business, but they are still very loveable. Also, they are one of the few companies who will bring a truck to pick up your donations on request for free. Call 626.792.3838 in Pasadena

They take:

  • mostly full paint cans and other garage-y liquids as long as they are usable
  • non-upholstered furniture, frames and framed art, etc.
  • tools, electric gadgets
  • appliances that work (even toilets, doors, and screens for windows. Stuff like that)

smaller moving projects or hanging things on your wall

small moving jobs done wellOne Item Move really wowed me with their professionalism and speed. The name explains the service. They charge by the hour and so they make sure to keep it moving. Hanging your flat screen TV or monitor, or collections of art or photos, is another specialty of this LA-based small business.  323.843.4799

Rate- $95/hour for most things including drive time.

I hope these names and numbers come in handy for you or someone you love this summer.

Garage as recycle bin: Organizing in Altadena

Claiming my blog with Bloglovin

Basically I’m writing about this garage because the before and after photo is so amazing. (At least I’m honest.)

Garage Organizing Magic!

Garage Organizing Magic!

Lovely Altadena is home to  this hybrid-driving client who was pretty excited about the idea of parking in her garage. Ms. I <3 the Environment hates to throw boxes in the trash. She prefers to take them to the recycling center at Caltech. But (you know where this story is going) the pile of boxes waiting to be driven to Caltech grew and grew until it made the whole garage into an un-usable hut of bedlam and chest-high clutter!

Doesn’t this sound familiar? Seems like everyone does this with their garage. What are using your garage to hold until you get around to it: clothes to donate? things to give to your sister/mother/nephew? items to be repaired?

How we did it: Making room for a car in this garage required 2 trips to Goodwill, 3 trips to the recycling station and sending 1 old couch to the dump. After that, the Get Organized Already team organized and labeled until everything was easy to recognize and easy to reach.

Go Team!
Go Team!

Garage Organizing: Take it Outside!

Garage Dream TeamI think I’ll always remember 2013 as the year of the great-garage-organizing-push. Holy moly! My team and I have done 14 this year and it’s just now February! I’ll bet you are thinking to yourself, Good gravy, Nonnahs! I don’t even want to organize one garage. Why would you do 14 in a month? To which all the strong ladies at Get Organized Already would answer one of these things:

  1. it’s fun for me
  2. baby needs new shoes
  3. garages are like a treasure hunt!
  4. it’s so much better than data entry
  5. the look on the people’s faces when we are done is worth every dust booger
  6. I’m thankful to be strong enough to do this work
  7. I’ll do anything for Nonnahs because she is the best boss ever

Let me show you our most visually impressive clear out of the year–SO FAR.

Joyce likes to find cool pieces to go in her beautiful Craftsman house and fix them up. For years, she kept putting furniture into her garage she thought she would refurbish one day.
things to refurbish can't work in here!

But, her garage got so full that she realized she couldn’t use the garage as a work studio if it was too full to walk around in there!

So, she called Get Organized Already to help her. We showed up and helped her to make some decisions about what she wanted to keep. Then, we took a couple trips to the local Goodwill with my little SUV packed to the gils!

One load full

We took some paints and building materials to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and in 3 hours (THREE HOURS ARE YOU KIDDING?!) her garage looked like this.