"We need to clean the garage." It's one of those phrases that strikes fear into the hearts of organization-challenged homeowners everywhere.
And with good reason.
Suppose you've decided it's time. You're going to take on this task. You're going to march right up to it, look it full in its glaring red eyes, and challenge it on its own turf, with every intention of conquering.
You head out to the garage, with energy in your step and determination in your soul. Then you take a good look at the clutter. You realize you don't have a clue where to start. You remember that all the unsorted junk on the shelves and in the corners is there because you couldn't decide what to do with it last time. You feel your determination starting to leak out through the soles of your grubby old tennis shoes.
Before long, overwhelmed, you remember several very important things you need to do in the house, like finishing the Sunday crossword puzzle and filing your toenails. You slink back inside, with a faint hope at the back of your mind that a tornado will come along and rip the garage off the house—leaving the house itself undamaged, of course—to take care of the garage clutter for you.
Take heart. There is a better way.
Sometimes the best way to take on a big job like cleaning the garage is to sneak up on it. It helps, too, if some outside event pushes you into action.
On Thursday of last week, two guys spent the day in our basement and garage installing a new furnace. In addition to banging and clanging and using power tools, this necessitated moving a cache of vertical stuff standing in one corner of the garage. When they were done, we had an array of skis, ski poles, old mops and brooms, curtain rods, and leftover pieces of woodwork piled on the floor.
On Sunday afternoon, we went out to spend a few minutes putting these things away to make room to put the car back in the garage.
Two and a half hours later, we had two garbage cans full of stuff to throw away, a big pile of stuff to give away, and a lot of other stuff put away. Without intending to, we had cleaned and organized one half of the garage. All it took was something to get us started. With the help of the furnace installers, we had sneaked up on a dreaded task and discovered it wasn't really so bad.
So now we know how to get the garage cleaned. Just start by buying a new furnace, and the rest takes care of itself.
Of course, that strategy only works once every 30 years or so. Somehow, I can't bring myself to see that as a problem.