How To: Organize the dreaded junk drawer

By Holly Shacklett, Co-founder, Simply Organized NWA

When Janet and I unpack a client who has just relocated, we work methodically and quickly but we’re both silently wondering who’s going to get “that” kitchen box.

You know the one I’m talking about.  We open up the packing paper to discover rubber bands mixed with pens, pens mixed with screw drivers.  And then we open up the next packing paper packet to discover more pens, box tops, and bread ties.  It goes on and on. And we want it to end.

Just like Molly Ringwald’s character in The Breakfast Club loathes the school bus, we loathe the junk drawers of society.  The thing is we all have them, possibly in every room.

How does a junk drawer get started? You or your housemates get lazy and you just throw it in there.  Or items don’t have a home so you throw it in that drawer.  And you seldom use anything that’s in there.  Even if you think a desired item is in the dreaded drawer, you decide to look elsewhere because you don’t want to look through the mess. Exhibit A:

Junk drawer “before”

Here are six steps to turn the junk drawer into a “miscellaneous” drawer:

Empty the contents of the drawer. While emptying the drawer, throw things out that are trash. You should group like items together on a nearby counter.

Clean the drawer

When is the last time this drawer was empty and consequently easy to clean? Swipe it with a wet cloth for a fresh start.

De-clutter the drawer contents

Look through your grouped items. Try out every pen and pencil you intend to keep because you don’t want to store writing utensils that don’t work. Remember the last time you were trying to take an important message and once you finally found the pad of paper your pen didn’t work?!  Get rid of everything you don’t need. If you have collected items like box tops pack them up, and put them in your child’s back-pack to deliver or mail them to the school of your choice. The most important observation you can make here is whether these items have permanent homes elsewhere. If they do, return them. Ask yourself why these items constantly land in this drawer. Is the item’s permanent home in a bad place? Do you need to change the location of that home?

Contain your miscellaneous items

The simplest way to do this is to grab various -sized ziploc bags.  Store all your rubber bands in one.  Store all of your extra key chains in another.  Create a system for the box tops.  Store them in their own baggie and send it with your child the first of every month. If you have drawer dividers or baskets contain like items in them. Skip the round ones, only use square or rectangle containers.

Organize your drawer

Yay, the fun part!  Only return items in this drawer that you actually use.  Remember, no junk!

Miscellaneous drawer “after”

Spread the word

Show your house mates your new miscellaneous drawer. Explain what each baggie or container is designed to contain. Explain why this is important to you and how this helps your house mate. Ask them to honor your hard work and to help each other keep this drawer the way it is because you all agree it is better.

Enjoy finding what you’re looking for when you need it. Cull this drawer at least twice a year because even if you’re committed to the miscellaneous category, your housemates might still be in junk drawer mode.

Holly is a mother of two young children and she actually gets a little giddy at the completion of an organizing project because she simply loves it.  Simply Organized custom designs organization solutions that work with your lifestyle and natural tendencies.