The garage is usually the most underrated room in the home. The garage’s purpose tends to be “where the junk goes,”but if you assign dedicated zones, your garage can be a horn of plenty.

Dedicated zones help you see just how much useful stuff you have and they keep useful stuff more accessible. Here are five useful tips to create dedicated zones in your garage.

1. Surface Worship.

I have often stated that a clear work surface is the most important tool for staying organized. I stand by this, even in the garage. A clear work surface keeps you in rhythm with the activities of your household, because it provides the space you need to process projects. Whether it’s making repairs, potting plants, or bundling cardboard, you will stay more organized if you dedicate your workbench as a clear runway for processing, NOT storage.

2. Simple Shelves.

OK, if you can’t store stuff on your surfaces, obviously it needs to go somewhere else. Don’t look to the middle of the floor. If you want to protect your $40,000 investment (your car) from the winter weather, a minimum of 100 square feet needs to be left open. The area around the perimeter is limited, so make the most of it by storing vertically with shelves. If you’re not ready to invest in a more sophisticated system like Gladiator Garage Works (shown above), I recommend the get-it-done-today approach of simple utility standing shelves.

3. Circulate/ Donate.

Stuff comes into our lives all too easily, but when it no longer serves our needs, it’s less easy to circulate out.  The garage is the perfect place to create exit zones. It makes sense to keep the trash and recycling in the garage, but it is worth investing the time and energy into making these disposal systems as user-friendly as possible. Give them the space they need to be clearly visible and accessible. It also makes sense to establish a donate zone, perhaps a shelf or two. This way you get the excess items, that you don’t want to toss, out of the house, closer to the car, and ready for when you are able to swing by the Goodwill.

4. Zones Within Zones.

Perhaps you have dedicated a zone for back-up kitchen supplies. This is a good start, but it may still feel out of control if you don’t dedicate zones within the zone. These items are much easier to access AND It is much easier to see what you do need to buy and what you don’t need to buy if you put all the canned goods on one shelf, dry goods on another, cleaning supplies on another, and paper products on another.

5. Sport Spa.

Give those spinning bike wheels, swinging bats, and bouncing balls a comfortable place to rest. Let’s face it. Sports equipment can be awkward to store, but unless you get it under control it can quickly interfere with the usefulness ofother zones. The Racor PBS Bike Stand keeps the kids bikes from spilling all over the floor; a simple empty cat litter bucket keeps bats and lacrosse sticks from creating an obstacle course; and a nylon ball bag keeps the soccer balls and basketballs safe.

Of course the first step to establishing these dedicated zones is a thorough sort and purge. Systematically go through each item and ask your self why are keeping it. If it doesn’t fit into an auto, sports, gardening, supply, tool, donate, or recycle category then it probably doesn’t belong in the garage at all. The more you are able to get rid of the unimportant stuff, the more you will be able to see, access, and use the important stuff. Then keep it sorted with dedicated zones and you will find you have a garage-copia!