What’s in Your Junk Drawer?

junk drawer

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that there is nothing in my junk drawer because I don’t have a junk drawer. I am an organizer, after all, and a junk drawer goes contrary to everything I believe. But then again, I realize I am definitely on the edge of the bell curve when it comes to organization.

My favorite quote when it comes to organization is, “Clutter is postponed decisions.” Barbara Hemphill, one of the most well-known organizers in the industry, actually trademarked this phrase over 30 years ago because it speaks so well to the root of the problem when it comes to clutter. A junk drawer is the very epitome of this concept. We have something in our hand. We want to put it in the right place, but we are in a hurry. The drawer is handy. We open it, we hesitate just a moment, but then we toss it in the drawer. This drawer might have started out with a specific purpose and some order, but with time and multiple scenarios such as this one, it has become a junk drawer, filled with numerous categories of stuff.

So what’s wrong with a junk drawer? Ideally, every item in a house or an office should have an established home and stay in that home unless it’s being used. Then after its use, that item should be returned to its home. But we all know that in the real world, this is not always practical. So while as an organizer I despise junk drawers, I also realize that despite our best efforts, they will crop up.

How do you prevent a junk drawer from developing? Get your household and office drawers organized in the first place with clear distinctions as to what belongs and what doesn’t belong. Live by that “a place for everything, and everything in its place” axiom every day. Don’t delay those everyday decisions – take the extra few seconds to think about where an item really belongs before tossing it in that oh so handy drawer.

What if all of that seems unattainable and a junk drawer is just a fact of your life? If that is the reality of your life right now, that’s ok. Give yourself a break. There may come a time when you’ll be able to prevent it, but for whatever reason, at this point in time, it’s just not feasible. So what do you do? Here are my suggestions:

  • Limit your junk drawer to ONE drawer only. Don’t use this “free pass” as an excuse to let every single drawer get out of control.
  • Before tossing something in there, if you have a few seconds, go ahead and put that item in its proper place (another room, another drawer, the recycling container, the trash can). Maybe you can make it not quite as junky as quickly. 🙂
  • Force yourself to dump everything out and organize it on a regular basis. Schedule it if you can, because we all know that something is a lot more likely to occur if it’s planned. If not, when it really gets out of control or too full to close the drawer, take the time to put it back in order.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Are junk drawers inevitable? Have you had success in preventing them? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found in a junk drawer? Has this post inspired any change?


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