Organize Your Car This Week (a.k.a. What’s That Smell?)

This is not my car. But it looks nice, doesn’t it?

Mobile office, changing room, dining room, way-to-get-from-here-to-there, home away from home … our car.

My van ticked over 94,000 miles today.

I spend lots of time in my van.  For work and clients, sure, but also for life.  We do a lot of interstate traveling, and have no problem with a 3-hour drive for an overnight visit or lunch with the family.

With lots of time spent in our cars, they can get a little cluttered… and grubby… and… well, smelly.  Our family joke was that when we decided to buy our current van, my youngest said “Good, because this one smells like french fries”.  Old beverage containers, fast food wrappers, dirty laundry, sports equipment – Who knows what is rolling around back there?!

The first thing that people do when they see my “Professional Organizer” magnets on my van is peek in my windows to see if my car is organized (of course it is).  Our cars are an extension of our homes and of ourselves, which means we can reap benefits from organizing our car and travels.  Luckily, the process is the same, whether we ‘re organizing a kitchen or hard drive or pile of mail or car.

Here is what to do:

  • Take out all the stuff out of your car.  Throw away the obvious garbage.
  • While it’s cleaned out, take your car to the car wash and splurge on the interior cleaning and vacuum, too.
  • Now that it’s clean, Do NOT just put everything back in your car!  Take a good look at the stuff that came out!
  • Grab another garbage bag and a notebook.
  • Sort the pile into categories: Car maintenance (wipes, oil); Car repair (tools, jumper cables); Important car related papers (manual, registration and proof of insurance); safety / first aid (first aid kit, blanket, non perishable snacks, water bottles); personal convenience (umbrella, lint brush, hand wipes, car pillow); or perhaps work related items (I have my briefcase and step stool in my van all the time).
  • A note on safety: Whatever you choose to keep in your car needs to be strapped in.  Any time we slam on the brakes, stuff can shift or fly, becoming a dangerous projectile.  Strap it down and keep it safe!
  • Contain your categories together (for example, a tote in the trunk for tools?), and stow them safely in your car.
  • And, if you have 10 minutes or 2 days, check Pinterest for more “car organizing” ideas – wow!!!

What should not be in the car:

  • important papers, like your mail or pay stubs with personal info;
  • VISIBLE VALUABLES or MONEY!;
  • your car title and maintenance records (keep these safely at home);
  • dead electronics (old phone chargers, random mystery cords);
  • school papers / text books / other books;
  • items to drop off to others / returns / recycling – add the errands to your to-do list, and make an effort to get that stuff dropped off.

Your car is an extension of you and your home, give it some love, attention and organizing this week!

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