Organizing your garage is a big task you’ve likely been putting off for a long time. Not many people enjoy such a job, but the reasons you should take the time to do it extend beyond the organization and the satisfaction you’ll feel when it’s done, though those things are certainly good reasons.
There are painless ways you can go about creating a garage inventory that will make it easier for you to maintain. If something happens to your belongings, having a detailed inventory can give you essential peace of mind.
Creating an inventory for your garage will keep you and your family prepared, organized and ready for whatever life throws your way.
Disasters are exponentially harder to recover from if you haven’t done anything to prepare for them. While most people won’t experience a natural disaster, preparing for them is still important. The types of disasters you’ll likely experience differ by your geography, so you should investigate the most common ones in your area. Setting up a garage inventory can help you keep track of your items and make insurance claims if a natural disaster causes damage to your property.
When a theft occurs, you’ll immediately recognize certain items are missing. However, to ensure the thieves didn’t take anything else, it’s important to have an inventory of everything in your garage. If you include serial and model numbers in your inventory, you can increase the chances of tracking down your possessions. Without detailed notes, you may not notice missing items for months, making recovery much more difficult.
Has your hobby turned into a business you run out of your home? If so, having detailed documentation of all your supplies and materials is essential to keep track of your business expenses. Create detailed inventory notes about your supplies so you know exactly what to order and when to order it.
Additionally, it may also be important to document your business assets and all supplies for tax and insurance purposes.
Knowing what you already have in your garage will likely save you money down the road. It can be easy to forget what you already own, especially if you’ve lived in the same house for a long time and haven’t dedicated time to organizing the space. A garage inventory will prevent you from buying duplicate items, leading to unnecessary expenses and clogging up valuable storage space.
If you own real estate other than your home, such as a vacation house, office space or timeshare, you might have your possessions spread across several locations. As such, you could run into problems purchasing duplicate items for every location. While it may be helpful to have certain possessions at each residence, creating a garage inventory for each space can help you keep track of your duplicate purchases. This list can ensure you only buy duplicates of items you need and keep track of those you transport from one place to the next.
It is important to have proper insurance coverage for all the items in your home. Including items of significant value in your garage, such as power tools, lawnmowers and vehicles, ensures you get the proper protection in the event of theft or property damage. If you are working through the process of creating your will and planning who inherits your assets, creating a garage inventory can help your family members or representatives divvy up your estate.
Since your garage isn’t a living space, you might put cleaning and organizing it at the bottom of your to-do list. Creating a garage inventory, however, can motivate you to get your space organized — and having an organized garage makes storing and finding items simple and efficient.
You may approach creating a garage inventory with the intention of selling some of your belongings. If this is the case, you can break up your items into lists of what you want to keep and what you want to sell. Having this list will make the setup of your yard sale go much more smoothly, especially if you have help. An inventory keeps everyone on the same page and ensures only the items you want to sell go in the ‘for sale’ pile.
Once you decide to inventory your garage, you need to determine how you are going to do it. You can choose a physical or digital inventory or combine the two methods. They both come with different pros and cons, but the most important thing to remember is to back up your inventory, no matter how you do it.
Creating a physical inventory is not always people’s first choice given today’s technology, but there are situations when paper documents are valuable. For example, if you’re creating a garage inventory for a yard sale, having a paper copy for everyone helping you as they sort through your items would likely be much more beneficial and efficient than one single digital copy.
Having physical copies also prevents you from worrying about a computer crash or internet issue, keeping you from being able to access your documents. They are also easier to write notes on and collaborate on, especially for people who are more visual, tactile learners.
For insurance purposes, sometimes you will need signatures or other verification methods that require you to have a physical copy of your inventory. You can even lock these documents away so you can control who has access to them.
However, if you only have a physical inventory, you risk losing it. Create many copies and keep them in multiple secure locations. Also, be sure to record any changes across all copies every time you update it. You can keep track of changes by scanning new versions of your inventory into your computer so that you can track when you made changes to the document.
Utilizing a digital method for your garage inventory will likely save you time through the ease of retrieval and access. If you misplace your digital file, you can use a keyword search on your computer to find it — a paper file does not give you that option. Plus, digital files allow you to easily keep track of changes and updates, and you can access the document history if you want to see a previous version of the document.
With digital inventories, there is the risk that cybercriminals can access your documents by hacking your device or cloud storage. If you have sensitive information in your inventory, you may need to purchase extra protection measures to enhance your digital security.
Though a paper file isn’t going to take up a lot of space, they are much easier to misplace or damage. A digital file stays on your computer, and you can create backups so you have access to important documents even if your computer crashes. Using cloud storage is a great option so you have access to your inventory wherever you go. Having the document on the cloud also makes it easier to share with others, and they will often have the option to make edits and leave notes as well.
There are many backup tools out there that can help you protect your garage inventory. For Windows users, you can use the “Backup and Restore” option in the settings. This allows you to keep versions and create a restore point. You can also restore or find backups that were made on another computer.
For Mac users, you can use Time Machine, a setting that connects to backup discs like a USB or Thunderbolt drive. When setup correctly, Time Machine will automatically make backups periodically. You can also backup manually if you wish. You also have the option of going through what is being backed up and selecting or deselecting things you do or do not want to take up space on your storage device.
Starting to inventory your garage can seem very overwhelming. Here are some specific ways you can approach and tackle the job as efficiently and meticulously as possible.
Before going through your items, you need to choose a specific organizational strategy, including how to distinguish between your items and where you will put them. Establish different categories for your possessions, such as automotive accessories, tools, cleaning supplies and home storage.
Leave space for items that don’t fit into your categories — you can create a specific miscellaneous category for these items, or leave space in each category to sort those out later. Failing to account for these extraneous items can lead to confusion if you haven’t organized them correctly.
You may even want to create smaller sections within your larger organizational categories. Having your tools categorized by their use can help you find what you need more quickly. For example, in the event of a plumbing emergency, finding the right wrench quickly can make a huge difference.
Though it may take extra time, you will benefit from being as detailed as possible with your inventory list. These details might include writing down each item’s brand, model and serial number, especially if you are taking inventory for an insurance claim. These details can also help if a tool breaks and you need a replacement part.
If an item has a warranty or manual, you may also want to include those details on your inventory so you can find that essential information.
Taking photos of your items and of your documentation can help you immensely in the long run. Photos of your possessions can help avoid discrepancies and provide essential details about each item — details you may not be able to include in your inventory notes. Photos can also help with insurance claims, especially if you are making a claim due to a natural disaster in which you’ve lost many of your belongings.
It can seem tedious, but saving receipts from items in your garage inventory will save you time and frustration in the future. To save space, and so you don’t have to worry about where the receipts are, you can take a picture of them or scan them into your computer. If you are creating a digital inventory, you can put them directly into your spreadsheet or document to stay organized.
If you’ve collected a lot of items over the years, it can be incredibly daunting to organize it all. The best thing you can do when you feel overwhelmed is to start small. Focus your efforts on smaller sections of your garage, such as your tools or cleaning supplies. You might schedule different sections for separate weekends, or get friends and family to help out. Another option is to hire a professional organizing service that can help you sort through everything.
Once you have your garage organized and documented in an inventory list, it is important to maintain all that work you’ve done. Determining how often to go back through and analyze your garage inventory depends on a few factors.
You could choose to assess your inventory seasonally and consider it a spring cleaning task and do it before the weather gets nice and the yard work begins. Or, get started when you’re cooped up in the winter and have the time to spend on a reassessment.
If you run your business out of your home and have a lot more products coming in and out of your garage inventory, it may be more beneficial for you to periodically reassess your inventory. This schedule could be every few months or weeks, depending on how much your inventory is changing. You might also invest in inventory management software to help you keep track of your incoming and outgoing products.
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