Your #1 Garage Organizing System is the Donation Depot. Odds are good that you are already making a practice of donating things, but I want to go a little deeper. I want to look at:
- WHY this is such an important system
- HOW to make it super easy
- How this approach can make ALL organizing systems easier
WHY is a Donation Depot so important?
These days, stuff circulates into our life all too easily. So we need a competitive system so that it circulates out just as easily. It is typical to see a trashcan and a recycling bin in the garage, but I believe every garage should also have a donation depot too. Why in the garage?
This has to do with my book The Circulation Solution. Circulation is a plan for movement in a series of manageable reliable stages. Circulation Prevents Accumulation. The most manageable reliable position for the donation depot is at eye level, inches away from the trunk of your car. When these bins fill up, you have given yourself the very best odds of loading them and dropping them off.
If you are doing errands and you’ve got 20 bags of donates in the attic, you’re not likely to think of them at the car. If you do, you’ll realize they’re too far away and they are several trips. So what happens? You’ll think, I gotta get going, I’ll get those another time.
Here’s another unlikely scenario. You grab a sweater you haven’t worn in a while and you don’t like the way you look in it. You’re not going to drop everything you’re doing, get in the car and drive the sweater to your favorite charity.
This is why it’s a good idea to establish a regular collection area, or “depot” as I call it, in your garage. I like one bin for clothing and another for everything else. By the way, I recommend clear recycling bags for donates and I keep them loaded right in the bins. Clear bags prevent accidental discards and they make it easier to see what’s inside.
HOW to make it super easy
Now let’s look at that sweater example in manageable reliable stages. This is the plan for circulation that works in my home:
Step 1. Make the decision to let the sweater go, drop it on a central piece of furniture on my way back to work.
Step 2. I need a cup of coffee, so I grab this out-of-place sweater on the way to the kitchen. I then drop it on my leaving ledge.
Step 3. Later I’m heading out to the bank, so I grab the sweater as I’m heading out the door.
Step 4. Passing the donation depot on the way to the car door, I drop the sweater in.
Step 5. Saturday morning I’m running errands and I see the donation bins are full. The bags fit easily in the trunk and get donated.
How this approach can make ALL organizing systems easier
This approach is easy but it is not automatic. If you don’t participate at any one stage— in my case, the central furniture, the leaving ledge, the donation depot, there will be buildup and stagnation. Look at every stage in your system. Is it as manageable and reliable as possible? Simplify until it is.
Finally, this same approach for your donation depot applies to everything in your home. Dishes in your kitchen needs to circulate, laundry needs to circulate, paper needs to circulate. Circulation is the key to staying organized because circulation prevents accumulation.
I called this Your #1 Garage Organizing System, but it may well be your #1 organizing system PERIOD.
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