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3 Ways To Fall in Love with Your Junk Drawer

Is there a drawer in you home that you just hate to open? I’d be willing to bet that there’s an overflowing mess of stuff sitting around in at least one drawer or box. It’s taunting you, invading your thoughts, making you wish that it would just disappear forever.

Sean Anderson
Sean Anderson

Is there a drawer in you home that you just hate to open? I’d be willing to bet that there’s an overflowing mess of stuff sitting around in at least one drawer or box. It’s taunting you, invading your thoughts, making you wish that it would just disappear forever.

Maybe it’s full of loose paper clips, old pacifiers, three pairs of scissors, expired coupons, and... What? Three separate peanut butter jar lids? Just the lids? Why the heck are those in there?

Everyone’s got a junk drawer(s) somewhere in their home. It’s just a fact of life. We all have junk, so where can we put it until we need it? That’s certainly nothing to feel bad about.

Heck, even Marie Kondo has probably got some mess stashed away someplace. We never did see her entire home in Tidying Up with Marie Kondo...

A man tapping his head at the camera

However, just because something is a standard of life doesn’t mean that it has to be a “problem.” We’re never going to get rid of junk, but what we can work on getting rid of is our way of dealing with and the attachment we have to it.

Friend, our junk drawer doesn’t need to be that sigh-inducing source of anxiety in our lives! We can live with our junk without letting it embarrass and frustrate us.

Your junk drawer doesn’t need to be messy

I’ve got a couple junk drawers. One is for technology related things that I keep close to my desk and the other is a box of miscellaneous items that I need to save. They both have exactly what they should have in them and nothing else.

If having more than one junk drawer is to your liking, then find some nice containers and fill them up with your stuff. If multiple places to keep your things isn’t your jam, that’s fine as well. The point here is to find the system that works for you.

The term “junk drawer” leads people to believe that it should be a messy place full of, well, junk. I think that’s a big reason why so many of them get out of hand. The very name tells our brains that we can just throw stuff in there, shut the drawer, and walk away. It’s all just junk, why do I need to pay attention to it?

So we can feel better, that’s why!

There’s no reason why our junk drawer also needs to look like a garbage pile. Sure, it’s usually a collection of random items of varying shapes and sizes, but that should be more of a fun challenge for us. Not some roadblock we don’t ever want to cross.

Organizing our junk drawers is going to take time and effort from us. Unfortunately, it’s also the sort of thing that’s going to take time and effort forever. We can organize our junk drawers, but thinking we only need to do it once is a good way to let that thing get super messy again.

All our hard work, down the drain!

Because junk usually isn’t all one shape and size, you may need to think more like a Tetris master than just someone who’s trying to organize a drawer. You can get there, though.

  • If you have more than one drawer, separate the items into different categories.
  • Consider measuring out the space of the drawer, marking off that measured space on a table with tape (like a ghost box), and organizing your things there first.
  • Try out different arrangements and orders for your items. If one arrangement doesn’t work, don’t just try and cram your remaining items into the drawer. Try again to make it all fit.

Clean it out regularly

What’s in my two junk drawers are the things I need to keep. I know this because I’ve gone through them multiple times. By this point, those two drawers are so streamlined that every item in there serves a purpose for me. I need to keep them so that my life runs well.

Even though my drawers only have what I need in them, I still make it a point to pull them out and go through their contents on a regular basis. You never know what sneaky items can find their way into those drawers when you’re not paying attention.

Seriously, are there junk elves out there that just deposit stuff into our drawers? Sheesh.

I’ve set a repeating to-do item in my task manager to remind me to check my junk drawers and clean them out at the start of every month.

Screenshot of the Upcoming pane in the Things app

This is a task that should be done regularly, but if doing it monthly seems like one too many tasks to add to your schedule, then consider cleaning it out every other month. Or every six months. I like to make it a more frequent task so those nefarious junk elves can’t get the upper hand.

In between your cleaning out days, make sure to keep an eye on what’s in there. Those items are bound to get shuffled around and disorganized (especially if there are other people in the house). Taking a few seconds here and there to keep the drawer tidy goes a long way.

Whatever your schedule is, make sure you can be reminded of it and then stick to cleaning the drawer out. You don’t have to turn this task into a huge production every time—and if you’re keeping an eye on it, then you shouldn’t have to anyway—but you should devote your full time and attention to it.

Cleaning out your junk drawer regularly will help prevent it from becoming a mess again.

Just because it’s junk doesn’t mean it needs to go in the drawer

Your junk drawer serves a good purpose—it’s a place for hard to organize things to live when they just don’t make sense anywhere else. Unless you’re living in a warehouse that’s positively filled to the roof with empty containers, you probably don’t have a place to store every single item you acquire.

That may seem like a letdown for those of us who just love a good container to put stuff in. I think my dream home would include a cozy library with a fireplace in it and more fun looking boxes than I can count.

But instead of feeling restricted here, let’s think of this third point another way. We’re being given permission to toss the stuff we really don’t need.

Not only does this help us keep our junk drawer from becoming an overflowing mess, it also helps us think about our things in a more appreciative manner. When we take a critical eye to our junk and really ask ourselves if we need yet another pad of sticky notes or that fifth spatula, we’re able to better evaluate our actual needs.

Really, that fifth spatula isn’t going to be any more magical than your other four. Or if it somehow is, then now would be a good time to throw away one of the others. Maybe that crusty thing that looks like it was made in the early ‘80s.

Just because you’ve gotten a new thing that you might be able to use at some unknown point in the future doesn’t mean that you have to keep it. If we’re really being honest with ourselves, that new thing probably won’t ever be used.

Some kitschy bottle opener gift that looks like a cartoon person’s face biting at the bottle cap? Really? That thing is definitely junk, but that doesn’t mean it should go in your newly organized drawer. Throw it away and never speak of it again. It needs to die a trashy death.

Junk doesn’t always have to go in the drawer. It’s more than okay to be ruthless and just throw away the unnecessary nonsense.

I’m confident you’ll feel better for it.


Organizing and getting rid of your junk should feel like a weight is being lifted off you. You’ll no longer have to fight to open or close an overfilled junk drawer again because now there’s some order to it.

Doesn’t that feel much nicer? Who wants to sigh every time they open their junk drawer?

Little steps like these do a lot to help create a calm and welcoming home atmosphere for everyone living in it. When everything is in disarray, a feeling of unhappiness can start bearing down on you.

To cap this off, if there are other people living in your home and sharing your space, then be sure to invite them to love their junk drawer, too. If everyone isn’t on the same page, then the mess you just cleaned can start creeping back in again. From now on, your junk drawer is going to stay clean, organized, and free of new, useless junk.

Love your junk, cats.

On Pinterest? Be sure to pin these images.

Productivity

Sean Anderson

Lover of productivity tips, Apple devices, and vegan ice cream. Mostly, I'm busy petting cats 🐱 and dogs 🐶


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