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My Garage is Dead to Me

My Garage is Dead to Me

Fasten your seat belts, Spring has arrived. Its time to clean: just open the drawers, organize the cabinets and wash the family vehicle. Pull out the hose, back the car out of the garage and…wait, my car is on the street. Why isn’t the car in the garage?

We have an oversized two car garage! A dream come true for anyone living in the city or a suburban life with children. A garage, the walled and roofed building adjacent or attached to a home used for storing vehicles. What a great concept. No more hunting for spaces, no rain on your Honda after you just washed it; you’ll no longer have to shovel two feet of snow or ice off the windshields.

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At our house, “the garage is dead to me.” I can’t get in. It is piled with chairs, light fixtures, holiday decorations, books, bikes and lawn mowers. I work in an elementary school so once a year during Spring break, I spend five to seven days sorting, compiling and hauling items from that valuable space. It’s a hidden dungeon of family and prior owner relics. We just can’t seem to make improvements. Some members of the family think that we might need the old rusty tools or lamps because they “might be worth something”, so we keep them.

I know that we are not alone. Just this week, Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post reviewed a book titled, Empire of Things, How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First, by Frank Trentmann. The author thinks we are consumers; that is our identity and we came by it historically because the author argues that personal collecting is found as far back as the people in Renaissance Italy. We simply keep consuming and accumulating.

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The prior owner of our home left many items. We agreed to let her leave them because we knew it was difficult to deal with a lifetime of belongings to move across country. Then my parents gave me their furniture when downsizing. After that my husbands parents moved, so more items. Of course we collected our own “treasures” from estate sales and yard sales as our family grew. Before you knew it: a huge collection of items that arrived at the last stop in our home, the garage.

Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is a bestseller. In it the author directs you to ask when you hold an object, “does it spark joy?” Apparently there are a lot of people finding joy in their garages.

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So, now what to do? First, pretend you are moving. The day you leave, many of those garage trinkets will be given away at a very stressful time. Do it in advance. Second, because you are pretending to move, take a moment to see if someone in the family will benefit from some of your family heirlooms. Then, call Goodwill. Third, put the items on Craigslist, letgo: Buy and Sell Second Hand Stuff or Zupa:Buying and Selling Made Easy. Yard sale preparation is very time consuming and requires muscle. I’ve found that the money is often not worth the time invested, having done several myself.

Yes, my garage is dead to me now; but, I have begun the journey towards bringing it back to life again. Our county allows for several special trash pickups each year and last week I did my first one for 2016. All the objects that I cannot pass on will be placed on the curb, little by little. One project a day, after work and on the weekend will push me a bit closer to an organized life and of course seeing my ride off the curb!

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Featured photo credit: https://picjumbo.com/testdrive/?i=HNCK0942.jpg&l=https://picjumbo.com/sportcar-waiting-in-garage-at-night/#1 via picjumbo.com

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My Garage is Dead to Me

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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