If I can do one thing well, it's organize. I'm the kind of person who can create order out of chaos and actually enjoy it.
So when Greg mentioned casually that he wanted to tidy his workshop, an enormous building filled to the brim with two houses' worth of stuff, I jumped at it.
I'd been wanting to clean his shop for two years, but I couldn't tackle it without him. Only Greg knows where he wants everything. But here's the rub. Greg is all about the shiny. That man can get distracted like no one's business. Me, on the other hand, I'd need a bomb to go off before you could distract me. When I'm on a mission, nothing gets in my way.
It was hard at the start. There was so much stuff and hardly any clear lines of traffic flow. We cleared one tiny area. That was my toe hold. From there I moved outward. I had him verify for me which set of shelves or cabinets were for each of his many pursuits.
One reason Greg has so much stuff is that he's quite handy. He's got an area for woodworking, electrical, plumbing, metal work, automotive, and plain, old puttering with gadgets. I'm glad he's so talented. I just wish he was a little more tidy.
Once I worked out where each station was laid out in his shop I went about sorting things. Automotive tools went one place, woodworking tools went somewhere else. Occasionally, I'd come across some gizmo I couldn't identify and I'd have to ask for help.
So far, we've thrown out twelve bags of trash, mostly bits and bobs of metal, plastic, and empty packaging. We even found an ancient Compaq laptop from the early 90s. That man keeps everything!
During Iko's puppy stage, he managed to destroy an entire leather furniture set. We kept it for years because it was comfortable and because we really wanted to have it reupholstered. When I got the estimate, it was cheaper to buy new furniture than to bring our old furniture back to life.
We emptied out file cabinets with tax records from the 1980s, old pay stubs, and receipts for things that no longer exist. We even found our original birth certificates! Other than important documents or things of sentimental value, everything went into the fire. No one cares what my phone bill was in 1979.
In all that organizing we found enough stuff to hold ANOTHER garage sale. I donated a ton of things last year, but this year we're going to sell or give these things away.
Last year, every charity we called said we were out of their district. Had I known this ahead of time, I would've left all that stuff on the curb with a FREE sign. In the end, we delivered to them, but it was very hard work.
I can safely say that once we have this garage sale, his shop should be a pleasure to use. I'm happy with what we've accomplished so far. I'm still trying to get him to let go of a bunch of auto parts (for cars he no longer owns), but he's been good about letting go most of the obsolete stuff. He even got rid of that ancient laptop.
I'll never cure him of his pack rat ways, but he's better. :)
Basic tips for organizing a BIG job:
• Start in one corner.
• Envision your paths of traffic flow.
• Sort likes with likes
• If you don't have pegboards and shelving, buy those first and install them in critical areas.
• Clear plastic boxes, wide tape, and a thick magic marker are indispensable for storing small items.
• Label every box, can, or barrel. You want to be able to see at a glance what's inside.
• Massive jobs take time, so only tackle one spot at a time and keep building.
Have you ever tackled what seemed an impossible mess? Did you ever find something cool in that stash? Do you have your original birth certificate?