Organizing Your Basement or Attic

There are two places which most people avoid when it comes to organizing: the basement and the attic. Organizing your kitchen or family room might be a task that you put off until the last minute, but it usually gets done for two reasons: (1) You use those rooms every day, and eventually you’ll just get sick of looking at the clutter; and (2) There are windows which allow natural light in, and usually those rooms don’t smell funny.

The basement and the attic are places that we avoid. Horror stories are written about them, rodents and insects typically set up shop there, and neither one is usually climate-controlled. Organizing the basement or attic takes a willpower that many people simply don’t possess. However, you can organize the basement and attic if you attack the jobs as you would any other room in the house.

Organizing Your Basement or Attic: Get It All Done At Once
Many people will advise you to organize the basement or attic in small steps so that you aren’t overwhelmed. However, in my experience, it’s easy to get up (or down) there one afternoon, but will you really have the wherewithall to go back the next day? If you get it all done in one sitting, you’ll feel better about the work you’ve accomplished and you won’t have to worry about it again for another ten years.

Organizing Your Basement or Attic: Bring a Partner
There’s no reason for you to do it alone; the entire family probably has things stored in the basement or attic. Instead of taking it on as a solo job, enlist the help of your family members. Live alone? A loving and trusted friend will be happy to come over and lend you a hand, as long as you help them do theirs next weekend. Organizing is always more tolerable when you have company, and you might need help moving large boxes or cartons.

Organizing Your Basement or Attic: Don’t Be Afraid to Bring the Trash Can
Never forget a stack of large black garbage bags when you’re organizing the basement or attic. Even though no one wants to part with their board games from childhood or even the stack of old rags in the corner, it’s time to weed certain things out. While it’s definitely a good thing to hold onto memories, it’s also wise to know when to throw things away. If you don’t know what it is, toss it. If you haven’t used it in twenty years, get rid of it. And if it doesn’t hold special sentimental value, free up the space for something that does.

Organizing Your Basement or Attic: Memory Lane
As mentioned above, basements and attics are magnets for the things that bring back memories from times long past. You’ll be tempted to spend three hours reading old journals or looking through family photo albums. Taking time to look through these things will slow you down, however, so make a separate stack for memory lane. Later, after you’ve finished the rest of your organizing, you can sit down with all of those things and look through them. Consider it a reward for a job well done.

Organizing Your Basement or Attic: Use The Space Wisely
There is no reason why your attic or basement can’t be as organized as the rest of your house. Make the job more fun (and more satisfying) by organizing it the same way as you would any other room. Hang peg boards on which you can store tools and equipment; install shelves in the corners for some of your favorite gadgets; use old storage bins for your keepsakes and collectors’ items. Just because it’s in the basement or attic doesn’t mean that it has to live in a cardboard box.

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