Birth of a Junk Drawer

Admit it. You have a junk drawer. You might have two, or one in each room where a drawer exists. And a junk cabinet, closet or room. You wouldn’t be alone in this.

We start with good intentions. We create a drawer for items we need often, items that technically have another home. Scissors, adhesive tape, receipts, random cords, batteries, note pads, hair ties, spare change, game pieces we’ll return to the box next time we pull the game out. And the hammer. All of these items have a home elsewhere, but when we want something, we don’t want to go searching elsewhere. We want it in our hand, now.

The hammer, for instance, belongs in a tool box or on the tool wall, in the garage. But, when we want the hammer, we don’t want to maneuver around the dirty cars, kids’ bikes, recycling bin, tower of bottled water and lawn mower to retrieve it.

Truth? It’s just easier to have random items like this in one place, call it the junk drawer, and be done with it.

Here’s the problem: because we call it “the junk drawer” we end up filling it with random junk. The drawer is no longer for the stuff we need at a moment’s notice. It now contains real junk we aren’t ready to make a decision about. It becomes the drawer for the eclipse sunglasses made of paper, and the cat ears we wore for the trick-or-treaters.  

Or, like the game piece, it fills with items that go elsewhere when we get a moment, some day. Random photos for the album. Artwork for the kids’ memory box. The receipts, hair ties and spare change. They all have a home: the game box, photo album, the memory box in the basement, the office, kids’ bathroom and the change jar in our closet. It was easier to sweep it into the junk drawer and get it off of the counter. We’ll organize it, some day.

One day, we jam another phone charger, the new pack of 100 batteries and the slinky eyes we got as a gag, into the drawer, and now it won’t close. Time to begin another junk drawer, or cabinet. Over time, everything is full, it all slowly spreads from an overflowing counter to an overflowing table, then onto the overflowing floor corner of the room.  

The junk drawer phenomenon is a small-scale version of what happens to our entire house over time. It drives us nuts, but who has the time to manage all of this minutia?

I can meet with you to put together a plan of attack. In the meantime, here are a couple solutions:

  1. When something enters the home, decide whether it’s worth keeping and organizing. Must we keep every pen, twisty tie, and scrap of paper?
  2. Take a hot minute to put things where they belong. Get the kids involved. Managing a home is a group effort.
  3. Look to your clutter for guidance. Random receipts everywhere says you need a specific home for receipts. Some are for taxes (a tax file in your office space), some are to keep until your statement arrives (a small box that is emptied each month), some are for purchases you want to keep proof of (a home file).

And this: Don’t call it a Junk Drawer, because (1) it isn’t junk, and (2) it will only invite junk. If you were to pull everything out of the drawer and group similar items together, you might find you have enough for a multitude of categories: office supplies, tools, household items, electronics. Designate a home for each category, depending on how often you need the items.

Rename the junk drawer. Call it the Tool Drawer if that’s where you store the hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, nails, and tape measure. If there’s space, include felt chair pads, birthday candles, batteries, furniture sliders, zip ties, and extension cords, then call it the Household Drawer.

The office supplies—scissors, tape, notepads, letter opener, and pens—can have their own small nook inside a cabinet.

Clutter and disorganization often result when items aren’t in their proper home. Assigning a proper home for everything is the first order of business. This can be a challenge, and I’m here to help you. The good news: this is something that is done ONCE. It’s maintained every day, but done once. And what a relief when it’s done! Call me if the idea of doing this alone fills you with dread. You aren’t the only one struggling with this.

You might also like: The Paper Organization Struggle is Real

Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Gentry Black, Home Staging by Cynthia, LLC in Kansas City.
All rights reserved. No portion may be shared, reused or republished in any format without express written consent of the author.

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