Most professional organizers will advise you not to have a junk drawer, or to at least organize the one you have.
But I’m here to propose that we all need TWO junk drawers!
Allow me to explain….
The Junk Drawer
I think we have all experienced the type of junk drawer that is overflowing with, well, junk. There might be some, or a lot of, useful items in there – like scissors, tape, and batteries. But those things are often hard to find in the drawer when we need them. Or, they’re difficult to put away because the drawer is crammed full of not-so-useful items like expired coupons, old fast food condiment packets, flyers, and whatsit doodads. Right?
Part of the problem is the word “Junk”.
It attracts, well, junk.
And names matter!
As I wrote in 10 Silly Things Organizers Argue About:
I have seen junk drawers, full of junk, where people stash worthless things willy-nilly. Or, if the items are worthwhile, the owners don’t even know they’re in there and can’t find them when they need them. I have also seen totally organized drawers with designated spots for small, useful, household items that are still called junk drawers because people are just used to that term. I do think language matters, and I prefer the term utility drawer for the organized ones. I delight when useful items have their own designated spots. But it’s also handy to have a drawer where you can toss stuff you don’t know what to do with yet. I approve of such a junk drawer AS LONG AS it gets purged before it overflows.
The Utility Drawer
So, organize your junk drawer and call it a Utility Drawer!
That way you always know where to find your scissors, tape, and batteries.
But then, where do you put your junk, though?
Realistically, we’re going to continue having junk.
We might as well have a place to put it, no?
I suppose if the drawer is big enough, you could use Ziploc bags to corral small pieces of junk too.
Why not have a Utility Drawer AND a Junk Drawer?
I do realize that not every kitchen or utility room will have two equally convenient and available drawers.
Still, I recommend a Utility Drawer for household tools and supplies AND a Junk Drawer (or Bowl/Box/Basket/Bin) for:
- Temporarily placing little things you bring into the house that don’t have a home yet, like business cards, flyers, and other business networking clutter.
- Temporarily placing things you found around the house, and don’t know what they are, and want to keep for a while in case you figure it out.
- Temporarily sweeping stuff from the counter into, because company is coming in five minutes. (Not to be confused with the plastic shopping bags that people sweep things into to get them out of sight, throw into a spare room, and never see again because they forget they’re there and what’s in them.)
Have you heard, “Don’t put it down, put it away!”—?
That’s a really good idea! It’s just not always feasible.
Here are 3 tips for maintaining a Junk Drawer:
- First, the Junk Drawer doesn’t have to be a drawer. It can also be a basket, bin, bowl, or box. Like laundry baskets, and action files, it’s more likely you’ll use the container if it does not have a lid and you can toss random stuff into it easily. What it looks like in terms of size, shape, or color depends on where you plan to keep it — it needs to be extremely handy — and what you plan to toss or sweep into it. Don’t forget that this is a designated temporary home for things. Make sure it is deep enough to hide the contents, but not so deep that items settle to the bottom and become buried forever. If “Junk Drawer” doesn’t work for you, call it something else. How about “Clutter Corral”?
- Choose a super-handy location and a container that suits the location. For example, if you’ve chosen your utility room by the back door, because that’s where you enter your home after parking your car, and you want a Junk Box on top of your washing machine because it’s a handy spot for you, a clear plastic shoe or boot box will work nicely. If, however, you want to use an attractive bowl on the counter of your open floor plan kitchen, that would be lovely. A place to corral inevitable clutter will free up surfaces and create a calmer, more inviting space.
- Don’t let your container overflow! It’s important to decide how much clutter you are willing to collect temporarily before dealing with it properly. If you start putting things on the counter NEXT to the drawer/bowl/box/basket/bin, you have, in effect, overflowed your container and it’s time to de-clutter. I recommend doing this once a week. Pick a regular time to sort the contents, throw away trash, put things away where they belong, and create permanent homes for things that need them. If your items are project-related, you might need a Project Box.
Do you have a Junk Drawer? How ’bout a Utility Drawer?
What do you call them? Are they organized?
Do you have another way of dealing with clutter?
Please share with us in the comments below!
Copyright 2022 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life and Beyond
Author of What’s a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy
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