Take The Junk Drawer Challenge!

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Is your junk drawer a landmine waiting to explode? Let’s get this small spaced organized and see who can come up with the best organized drawer. Back last spring our manager in Lacombe, Sue Sage, shared her best drawer treatment by using a utensil organizer to get a handle on the make-up drawer in the bathroom. I used this same idea to get my kitchen junk drawer organized once and for all. Here’s what I learned from doing my own junk drawer challenge.

1. Pare down the items in the drawer to what you really need. Turning “really useful stuff” into junk starts innocently enough. You want to quickly tidy up because guests are coming, so you slide a few random screws, a twist-tie and some mail into the drawer. Once that drawer starts to look disorganized, it’s easy to just keep shoving in every loose item that crosses your path. Stop that from happening by going through the items and deciding if you really need the item. Are you really going to use all those twist-ties, or would ½ a dozen contained in a small zip-top bag due? How about all those pencil stubs? Do you really need those or would a couple good pencils be more effective?

2. Categorize and group the items. By doing this you stop thinking of them as junk and start thinking of them based on the theme of their contents. For instance:

  • Small tools
  • Office supplies
  • Batteries
  • Electronic Items
  • Receipts

3. You may need more than one small-stuff drawer. A single drawer for small items is simply not enough for most households. I chose to move charge cords, remotes and game controllers to a separate drawer by the TV.

4. Know the two ways to sort. There are certainly other ways to sort your belongings, but these two ways are simple and effective.

  • Like with like. Some categories that I found useful where: Tools (pliers, screw drivers, etc.), office supplies (glue, markers, pens, tape), batteries, take-out menus. Sounds silly, but it works, and once you know where these things are, you can quite easily find what you need
  • junkdrawer1Complete a task. The second way of sorting is to group everything you need to complete a task from start to finish. A relative of mine had a drawer in her home for envelopes, stamps, pens, cheques and an address book. You might want a drawer near the front door to keep your keys, wallet, cell phone, sunglasses and other personal items. Or a tool drawer for everyday household repairs — tape, twine, pliers, scissors and screwdrivers. This is not the place for arcane tools and specialized equipment used only once or twice each year. Which brings us to the next point.

5. Know what doesn’t belong. In addition to your useful-stuff drawer, it’s helpful to have another location for bulkier items that you use occasionally, like your measuring tape, string, tin snips and box cutters. Try stowing these items in a shoe organizer that you can hang on the back of a pantry door or in a utility closet.

6. Always label loose parts. Ever find a lose part and wonder what it was for? It might be important or it might be irrelevant. How do you know? Save yourself from this feeling by never putting a loose part away without labeling it. An easy way to do this is to drop the item in a zip-top bag or plastic container, place a piece of masking tape on the bag or container and write what it is on the tape using a permanent market. This includes things like those extra screws from the self-assemble furniture you bought, the cords for the rechargeable electronics, and the spare parts from a kid’s toy.

7. Find the right container for the job. Not everything needs to lie flat in a drawer. If your drawers are deep enough, consider standing some items upright in simple glass jars. Experiment with recycled containers — egg cartons are good for sorting tiny items, jam jars work wonderfully for paper clips and yogurt or sour cream containers are great for rolls of tape.

From creating categories to making smart choices about what goes in and what stays out, these tips helped transform my junk drawer into a “really useful stuff” drawer. Now it’s your turnJ

Do you have a junk drawer? Neat or messy, please post a photo in the comments section below!