Your car is more than just a mode of transportation, right? It's like a mobile command center. You use it as an office, as a kitchen for on-the-go meals, as a taxi service when you take your kids and, oftentimes, their friends from one activity to the next, as a delivery vehicle for groceries, and as a storage unit for sporting equipment, roadside emergency supplies, and toys.
With all that activity, cars get messy and seem to stay that way.
Not only is a disorganized and messy car an efficiency problem, it can be an embarrassment as well. Do you cringe when someone says, "Let's take your car," or "Can I ride with you?"
It's time for you to be proud to carry passengers in your car! This weekend take one hour to clean and organize your car. Before you begin you'll need a few supplies. If you play CD's you'll need a CD holder that attaches to the visor. Find two or three baskets or bins for the front of the car and two or three crates or bins for the trunk or back of the car. You'll need small individual plastic containers with lids and a portable filing bin with hanging files.
You are now ready to follow this step-by-step solution to a clean and efficient car.
Take Every Single Thing Out of Your Car
Take everything out of your car. If it's not attached, it comes out. Collect and throw away all garbage.
Review the pile of items to determine what should be put or stored elsewhere but has just ended up staying in your car for far too long.
Remove those items and put them where they belong.
Sort and group everything else into the following categories:
- Roadside emergency items - first-aid kit, roadside flares, jumper cables, flashlight, etc.
- Sporting equipment
- Your children's items like books, dvds, and toys
Console items like pens, paper, tissues, hand sanitizer, change, rubberbands, coupons, etc.
Create a Central Command Center in Your Car
Use your console to create a "Central Command Center" for your car. Include the things you use or need to access each day like a notepad, pen, sticky pad (which are great for reminders that you stick to your steering wheel so you don't forget something important at the end of the day), change (use one of the small plastic containers with a lid), tissues, and hand sanitizer.
Use your other small plastic container with a lid to organize other small items such as rubber bands, paperclips or ponytail holders.
Create a Mobile Business Center
If you use your car for outside business appointments, you have two options for creating a mobile business center. You could put your briefcase next to you in the front seat. Make sure you have it organized so that you can easily access to-do lists, call lists, paper and pens.
Or if you need storage capacity in addition to your briefcase, use a portable filing bin that accommodates hanging files for things such as additional client files, marketing pieces and product literature. Choose one with a handle to make it easier to relocate to another spot in the car when you are finished with your business day.
The Kid Collection
If you're not careful, you car can get overrun by a collection of your children's books, toys and DVDs - all of which seem to end up rolling around on the floorboard or up under the front seats.
To control the clutter set limits. Unless you are going on a long trip where your child will be in the car for an extended period of time, you don't need that many toys or distractions.
Allow each child to pick two things that will stay in the car. Keep these items together in a small bin or bag. A reusable cloth grocery bag (available at almost all grocery store chains) is a great storage option for toys. Not only is it sturdy, but it can also accommodate odd-sized items. Use the handles to hang it over the head rest of the front seat.
When you and your children are in the car together, consider making it an electronic-free zone. That means no cell phone for you and no DVD player for them. Not only will this help minimize car clutter, but it will also allow you and your children to connect at the end of the day and make the transition from work and school to home easier.
Tackle the Trunk
Use separate bins or crates for each category of items you typically keep in the trunk or the back area of your vehicle like roadside emergency equipment and supplies or sporting equipment and gym bags.
Consider adding one or two extra crates to be used for groceries or other shopping items. This will keep these items from rolling around the back of the car as you transport them home. You can also carry the entire crate full of groceries inside, making unloading the car after a trip to the store much easier.
Keep It Organized From Now On
Clean your car out each time you stop for gas. While your tank is filling up, use this time to go through your car, gathering any garbage or items that can be thrown away. Most gas stations have garbage cans next to each gas pump.
Take 5 to 10 minutes each Sunday to go through your car. Gather any items that don't permanently belong in the car and put them where they belong. For those items remaining in the car, make sure they are in the appropriate bin, basket or bag.
When you start each week with an organized car you'll feel more in control. You may even go out for lunch with your co-workers and say "I can drive!"
Updated by Elizabeth McGrory