Get in the zone
Situate your space and your stuff on paper before lugging it around on the concrete. Map out your garage and divide it by zones: indoor-outdoor transition, household overflow, large/long/long term, everyday yard gear; and hobbies. Let the map be your guide as you sort and assign your stuff.
Admit it's an entryway
Saddled with groceries, you stop in the garage and juggle keys, coffee, cell phone and more. For your kids, your spouse, and - let's be honest - a handful of friends, this is the primary entry to your home. Ease the transition with surfaces for setting and hooks for hanging. Consider lockers or storage benches for backpacks, shoes and boots, and a rug or scraper to cut the dirt or snow tracked inside. If your garage is an extension of your kitchen, designate a spot for supplies like soda pop or paper towels.
Use the space you've created in your garage to host a tag sale, donating anything of value that doesn't sell. Proceeds can fund a favorite charity or a future family vacation. Enlist your kids to spread the word with neighbors who might like to hold their own sales on the same day.
Find your station
Sports enthusiast? Garden grower? Grease monkey? If space allows, station a hobby center directly opposite the large garage door: Include a well-lit work surface so you can see what's at hand. Keep it clear by storing small tools and supplies on the slatted walls that allow you to clip and endlessly rearrange an assortment of hooks, racks and baskets - whether you need to gather golf gloves, pressure gauges or pruning shears.
Above the rest
The minute anything but your tires hits the garage floor; it's the beginning of the end for your organization aspirations. You can mount heaps of things to the walls to spare your floor from pileups and make cleanup easy. Tug on wall systems to make sure they're stable; If it's not tight, it's not right.
Layer by hazard and height
Store children's items close to the ground, with things you'll need to share at mid-level. Stow "adult" items - chemicals, breakables, or sharp tools - overhead and behind lockable cabinet doors if necessary.
Hook or hang awkward seasonal tools - snow shovels, leaf rakes, folding chairs - on the walls nearest the garage door to lessen the likelihood that you'll ding your cars by dragging things along the length of your stalls.
No one wants to spend time in a dim garage with hidden hazards. Shed a little (or a lot of) light on the issue. Install long-lasting, energy-efficient bulbs overhead and clip or hook mobile task lights in places where you're most likely to need them. Multiply the effect by coating your ceiling with light, reflective paint.
Mobilize your masses
You'll only get so far sorting everyone's stuff by yourself. Dedicate a day of family garage-keeping complete with pre-planning and recreation. Purchase organizers and cleanup supplies ahead of time. Define the project's time and punctuate with snacks. Park curbside so you can move all garage contents to the driveway to conquer clutter by category. Assign an older child to burn a "garage grooves" soundtrack with pace-setting family favorites. Appoint a project photographer to capture before, after and candid shots.