Living an active lifestyle often means a large variety of equipment and tools to go with your favorite sports and hobbies. You might find that these items only get seasonal use, or maybe they’re just something you turn to on the weekends or when vacation time comes around. If you’re an avid clutter buster, this means each of these items needs a storage spot where it will be out of your way day to day, but on that is easy to access when you’re ready to use it.
To get started organizing your sports and hobby equipment you’ll want to take inventory of what you own and whether you’re actually using it or not. Sports equipment can be a financial investment, so it’s easy to hold onto it long after you’ve tired of the activity or you or the kids have grown beyond a certain size of uniform, skis, clubs, helmet or glove. Some protective equipment, like bicycle helmets, also have a shelf life after which they start to deteriorate and should be replaced for safety.
It’s good to take stock and determine:
What equipment needs replacement? It’s time to retire those old bike helmets or the sleeping bag with the broken zipper. Start a replacement shopping list and determine if you need them for activities this season or if you’ll need to buy them over time. Dispose of the old items before you get sentimental again.
Determine what equipment doesn’t fit your active lifestyle anymore. If you have a camp stove, do you really need the portable charcoal grill too? Will you ever really use the three extra pair of old running shoes you’ve held onto – even for mowing the lawn? Does anyone in your family still fit in the pee wee t-ball helmet? Pack useful things up to donate to the local Recreation Department or YMCA and record the donation for next year’s taxes.
Is your equipment seasonal? How many months out of the year do you use the items you’re ready to keep? Ice skates could just be needed three months of the year if you skate outdoors, but if you’re an avid skater or hockey player at your local arena, you may need to get to them twice a week or more. Even year-round activities may have seasonal gear you can pack up for part of the year – swap out biking tights and micro-fleece jackets for shorts and ultra-wicking summer t-shirts as the seasons dictate.
Figure out what you use most often – do you go for a bike ride every weekend? Or maybe you shoot hoops or power walk for an hour every night?
Organize your items by storage space required – the kayak and bicycles are going to be space hogs that require not only a large storage space, but you’ll need room to maneuver them in and out of that space, especially if you want to take advantage of wall storage or suspending them from the ceiling during the off-season. Golf bags, tents, hockey sticks and skis are also going to require larger storage spaces, but are easier to maneuver in and out. Balls, gloves, helmets, Frisbee discs, shoes, and other smaller gear can be stored on shelves or in bins almost anywhere you have an open space. Think vertically too – they could be mounted directly on the wall with custom hangers.
Once you’ve completed your audit, start planning where you’ll store your items. Top storage spots include the garage, attic, outdoor spaces and the mud room. Stop and think about where and how you’ll use the equipment for your favorite activities. If you head out the front door to walk the dog twice a day you might want to put your walking shoes and leashes in a front hall closet, or add a basket or bench with storage to the entryway or porch. Packing for a camping trip may mean turning your garage into a preparation center, so a shelf dedicated to storing your tent and plastic storage bins that protect and store sleeping bags, camp dishes and your lantern will speed up the packing process.
Load midsize to smaller items into your storage space by season, putting the least used items in the hardest to reach spots and taking into consideration a rotation plan if you need to swap items in and out year-round. Keep space up front where there’s plenty of room to maneuver open for your large and extra-large sports equipment or install racking systems for their permanent storage location.
Once you’re done – take a step back and appreciate a job well done… for at least a few minutes before you get out and get moving again.