by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Decide where something belongs.
Do you have one (or more) junk drawers in your home? Is it in your kitchen? (This seems to be the centralized room for junk drawers.)
I’m not opposed to junk drawers, although I think most of their issue is in the name. Are you really storing “junk” in this drawer? Chances are that you have a lot of stuff in that drawer that you could toss (while rolling your eyes in disbelief that you ever thought that you should hold onto fifteen inches of gift wrap ribbon).
I stopped calling the drawer in my kitchen a junk drawer when I realized that ninety percent of the drawer contained stationery supplies (since my desk is in the basement and neither my husband or I was going to trek down a flight of stairs for a paperclip or pen).
Others have a drawer in their kitchen with an extra hammer and screwdriver, duct tape, batteries, picture hanging supplies, and other tools they use often enough that they want them handy. While I believe in keeping similar items together, I know in a lot of cases it works out better to have a main storage space and a satellite storage area (often, but not necessarily, a drawer) in another area of the home.
So, for your junk drawer – what types of items do you want to find there? If you emptied it entirely and didn’t return anything to that space without considering if this is the best home for the item, what would end up in that drawer? Stationery supplies? Tools? Games, puzzles, or craft supplies for spur-of-the-moment kid-entertainment?
Would this drawer better serve you with a different, more specific function?
How to Declutter the Junk Drawer
Yep, start by removing everything, even any organizing tools and wipe out the dust.
Toss the weird bits that ended up in this drawer because you thought of it as your junk drawer – short pieces of string, promotional magnets and unused key rings, the pad of paper half-stained with coffee, the wrapped plastic utensils from takeout food, etc.
Group items together – business cards, pens, random screws, push pins, paperclips – and decide if this drawer is the best place for the items.
Don’t thing about storing the items; think about how you want to retrieve (find and use) them. Do you really go into this drawer to look for a screw or do you go to your toolbox? If you’re thinking, “Well, it could be handy to have a few screws in this drawer,” let me tell you, no, it isn’t. If you are looking for a screw, you’ll go where you keep screws before you waste time rooting through a tray of paper clips and dried elastic bands just in case you have the right-sized screw hidden in the mass.
No, really, is this the best place for that item?
A drawer organizer or a set of plastic or cardboard trays that fit within the depth of the drawer can help prevent items from falling over one another or mixing together. You could group a couple of pencils, pens, a highlighter, and a ruler in one box; a hammer, pliers, and a couple of screwdrivers in another tray. These trays should be open as opposed to covered so items can be accessed and easily returned.
Oddly, trays, even partly filled trays take up space giving the drawer the appearance of being full while staying organized. You know that saying about space abhorring a vacuum? The space that a tray takes up in a drawer can help at eliminating the thought, “Oh, I’ll just toss that in here,” because you’ll open the drawer and think, “Oh, there’s already stuff in here.”
Keep Your Junk Drawer Organized
Instead of thinking of this drawer as a dumping ground for things you’ll never go looking for again, give it a function – often-used tools, office supplies. Then, stop calling it the junk drawer and name its function. Sure, maybe it’s 70-percent tools and 30-percent office supplies – call it the tool drawer. This will make it easier to say, “that’s not a tool, it doesn’t belong there,” instead of, “yeah, I don’t know what to do with that, so just toss it in the junk drawer.”
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The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).