Last week, a friend reached out to me, sharing pictures of her morning’s organizing projects. (I love that!) The conversation went like this:
Friend: (Below a picture of school papers) “Making Decisions.”
Me: “Ooh, those are tough, I know.”
Friend: “Yes, well, once you explained clutter as unmade decisions [Barbara Hemphill], I have been able to get rid of most of it. This mess was from my China / @##$@ cabinet.”
Me: (laughing) “Decisions are tough, but making them strengthens our decision muscles – it does get easier!”
Friend: “It is laughbable. I had 6 junk drawers. Down to 2 now.”
Me: “Woo hoo! And never call them junk drawers, as, well, that’s what will end up in them! Better to name it, whether its a “school supply drawer”, “household hardware” or “party and baking drawer”!
Friend: “Yes. Good Tip”.
Me: “Hmm, maybe that should be my next blog topic!”
Friend: “Yes, it should. I’m buying a label maker today.”
Inspired by this exchange, I asked my FB friends to share photos of their junk drawers for this article (In no particular order, and with no identifying tags!). And for the friends who asked if junk corners or junk rooms counted, these same suggestions will apply to those spaces, too!!
Just start! Drawers are great and rewarding little projects! You can make a lot of progress in little pieces!
Grab a garbage bag and a note-pad to jot down ideas that come to you. Then set a timer for 20 minutes or so, if you’d like, and get to it! If the drawer is dirty, dump the contents out on the counter and wipe / wash out the drawer before you put anything back.
The Organizing Process is the same (per Julie Morgenstern), whether a small drawer or a big room:
- Sort Your Stuff. Common categories of junk drawer contents:
- pens / pencils / markers (working and not)
- paper clips, safety pins, clips of all sizes
- coupons, expired and not
- recipes, good and not
- take-out menus, old and current
- paper clips
- random photos
- note paper and post-its, used and unused, and business cards
- hardware, screws, tacks, small tools
- snacks, gum, candy (edible and not, who knows which is which?!)
- glue, tape, string, rubber bands
- first aid items, band-aids, inhalers, nail files
- small toys, broken jewelry, hair ties, etc.
- candles and matches
- plastic silverware and old napkinsHow am I doing? Sound familiar? Sort what is there, and then head to the next step – purging.
2. Purging. This is where that garbage bags come in handy. We can all agree, much of what is in a junk drawer is probably, well, junk, and can therefore be tossed. So part with the old papers, dried out pens, questionable food items and anything else that you don’t need or love.
3. Assign a Home. Decide what categories you have present, and what categories of stuff you want to keep and where. Consider where you use certain items, or how often you need to access those certain items. NAME YOUR DRAWER, for goodness sake. And let everyone in your house know what the drawer’s name and purpose is! I have said this before, a space needs a name and a purpose. If you call your drawer a junk drawer, or your room a junk room, junk will end up there. So, as you assign a home for your items, group them logically and by purpose. Perhaps you end up with:
- A meal-planning drawer, with: menus; gift certificates and coupons; and recipes.
- An office or school supply drawer, with: tapa and glue; pens, pencils and markers; notepads and post-its; paperclips, etc.
- A tool and household drawer with: tools, heavy-duty tape, flashlights.
- An extra utensil drawer, with: the kitchen items you want to keep but don’t use regularly. Or
- Some other category you choose. Just name it, and stick with it.
4. Containerize. Look around your house, you probably have containers you can use to corral your items in your newly cleaned and NAMED drawers. (Finally, a use for some of those mismatched storage containers?) And I snapped a picture of the new containers on a client’s table, she loves the dollar store for inexpensive drawer inserts. If you can’t track down old check boxes or small cardboard jewelry boxes around the house, trays similar to the photo below (of my desk drawer) can be found at home stores like Target, or office supply stores like Office Depot or Staples.
5. Finally, the 5th step is Equalize, which is Julie Morgenstern’s snazzy word for MAINTENANCE! Once your drawers are organized, keeping them that way takes a lot less time and hassle. You can maintain them every day by putting stuff away in the right drawer and space. And once in a while, if you pull open a drawer and it has gotten a little messy, setting it back to rights takes just a few minutes, using the same Sort / Purge / Assign a Home / Containerize / Maintain process.
Tackle this small but awesome project this week!
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