For a number of years my in-laws have been talking about the state of their garage and how they need to “sort it out”. Over the 10 years they have been in their current house the garage condition has been compounded by a lack of fixed shelving and the boxes and boxes that were put there when they moved and never touched. We have tried to offer advice and ideas for getting it sorted but limited progress was made. They felt totally over whelmed with 50 years of stuff. There were always other more important, or interesting, things to do, the weather wasn’t good enough, or the caravan in Skegness needed turning around for the next guests. Mainly they didn’t know what to do with everything and the baby boomer mentality of “just in case”, or “we can fix it” was holding them back.
One of our aims for 2016 was helping kickstart the process with a few days of concentrated effort. We did check they wanted this! Their aims and motivations at the start were as follows;
- Clear the garage so they have space for decluttering the house / shed, a holding pen for things to re-home.
- Be able to keep their vacuum cleaner and other practical household items in the garage and get to them easily.
- To not increase the size of any of their current collections, other than my father-in-laws stamps. These do bring him a lot of joy.
- For us to leave them with practical tips for how to reduce the amount of physical presents people buy them.
- To buy less stuff so they have money to go on holiday more often.
- To leave them with a list of places / ways to re-home different things including the Facebook groups and eBay tutorials.
This was the scene that we found!
The way we tackled it was that everything had to go into one of four categories; keep, sell, give away or recycle. Inspiration and techniques from Courtney Carver at Be More with Less and The Minimalists. We worked our way through most of the space in concentrated bursts over the four days. There were a number of conversations around the perceived value of things, and we challenged them on their plans to fix / paint X before selling it. We were careful not to tell them what to do, but encourage them to think about the time it takes to load things on Ebay, a Facebook selling group, or take to a car boot sale. Whilst reminding them that giving items to charity is a donation (with gift aid) that helps the charity, and someone who may be on a low income, or someone who cares about buying second hand for sustainability reasons. Most of my favourite clothing items are from charity shops or cast offs! They really got into flexing their decluttering muscles and you can read in my next post how we got on.