Everyone has a junk drawer (or maybe more than one!) and most are filled with, well, junk! Maybe we should rename it a 'miscellaneous drawer' to remind us that this drawer doesn't have to be a cluttered mess. I'm in the midst of a kitchen remodel (read more about that here) so I had a great opportunity to rethink my junk drawer. In my previous cabinets, I actually had about 4 junk drawers, and though they looked fairly organized, there was just too much stuff! I consolidated everything into one large drawer and curated the contents to be only the items that didn't already have a home elsewhere.
Get Your Own Dream Junk Drawer
1. Empty junk drawers completely
Even if you will reuse the same drawer, it is still helpful to completely empty it. This gives you a concrete idea of how much stuff you actually have, allows you to clean the drawer and drawer organizers, and gives you a blank slate to work with. If you are lucky enough to have a brand new drawer, empty the old one before putting anything in the new one so you have really considered the necessity of each item.
2. Get rid of what you haven't used in the past 3 months
Maybe last time you went through your junk drawer, you were really into gum, but since you've settled on hard candy. It's ok to throw away your gum if you're never going to chew it! I keep small packages of tissues in this drawer, but whenever I pull out a package, I never choose one that isn't full, so I ended up with about 6 partial packages taking up precious drawer space. Instead of throwing these away, I took them all and put them in my car's console so they will get used up.
3. Relocate items that have a home elsewhere
I had two containers of toothpicks in my junk drawer, but I moved them to my kitchen cabinets where I stored the other box of toothpicks I'd recently bought because I'd forgotten there were some in my junk drawer! I also moved tea lights and votive candles to the drawer near my wax warmer where I keep all my scented waxes. I moved some small tools to my tool box and masking tape to my laundry room cabinet where I keep packing tape.
4. Group like items together
I used to have one container for rubber bands, paperclips, and twistie ties. I could never find a paperclip when I wanted one because they were hidden among all of the other items. I've now separated these things into two separate containers so now it's much easier to find what I want when I want it!
5. Get creative with drawer organizers
You can use pretty much anything for drawer organizers - products specifically for organizing drawers can be found at most stores, but you could also use dollar store plastic containers, small tins, small cardboard boxes, etc. Remember that size is key, you want enough room in each compartment for what you want to store there, but not too much space causing you to waste precious junk drawer real estate! I found some inexpensive drawer organizers at TJ Maxx, but they didn't have any very small compartments, so I nested some smaller organizers right inside, and viola, I had just what I needed.
6. Put lesser used items in the back
Organize your drawers by function, and store what you use the most at the front. For me that's pens and pencils, scissors and tape, gum and tissues. I need batteries and touch up paint much less often, so they are stored in the back of my drawer.
7. Make a shopping list for must have junk drawer items
After you go through your junk drawer, you may realize you're low on chap stick, missing a compact flashlight or could really use a new Sharpie marker. Keep a running list as you are cleaning and organizing your drawer so you don't forget next time you're at the store.
Last week I was in Las Vegas at a huge conference for my job in IT. As I sat way up in the nosebleeds in the arena needed to hold the 6,000+ people in attendance, I felt more than a little insignificant. I looked around and saw so many people that seemed to have more knowledge and experience than me, and though that could be a good thing - an opportunity to learn - it was also overwhelming!
Where do I start? There is so much, so many choices bombarding me everyday. I struggle with choosing an area to focus on and get better at, because I feel like if I do, I will neglect everything else - and what if there was a better choice and one that would have been more important or had more impact? Nearing 40, I'm starting to feel like my potential is fading. I used to be the youngest in the room, and many times the only woman. That was my identity - the young, promising woman poised for success, but now I ask myself, "Where did my potential go? What has been my contribution, and did anyone notice?"
Now, when I hear a motivational speaker, I get all fired up...for a minute. When I was younger and less experienced, I was more easily inspired, but the older I get, my level of cynicism grows as my level of inspiration wanes. I'm now more grounded and practical and want to see my actions and contributions matter. I find myself asking if I should just try to blend in, and I now realize that it's because I'm afraid I won't stand out.
"I find myself asking if I should just try to blend in, and I now realize that it's because I'm afraid I won't stand out."
Last week, I realized it was time to embrace that being a small part of something big is enough. As I pondered what this meant in my real life here's what I came up with:
What about you? Do you feel like you have to be on top to matter or have you already mastered the art of teamwork and honing your specific skills so that you can compliment others with a common, big-picture goal? I'd love to hear from you. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!