The Junk Drawer

The Junk Drawer

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The term “junk drawer” doesn’t seem to jive with the idea of minimalism. How could a minimalist home have a junk drawer? Surprisingly, I’m guessing most minimalists have a such a drawer (although they may give it a more useful-sounding moniker, like “utility drawer”). Who doesn’t need pens, pencils, tape, and scissors? I certainly do. But unfortunately my junk, er, I mean, utility drawer had become an orphanage for every stray pack of sticky notes, extra deck of cards, and lost screwdriver in the house. Instead of a utility drawer, I should have called it “Where Stocking Stuffers Go to Die.” Take a look:

You can see there was an attempt at organization several years ago, when I purchased a very handy organizer with neat little labeled slots for all my stuff. However, I’d let my stuff overflow the space, so the organizer was no longer useful. It was time to minimize! For this project, I tried Miss Minimalist’s decluttering strategy. She advocates emptying your cluttered spaces completely before sorting. I’d never tried this before; usually I just sorted through items while they were contained in their original space, tossing unnecessary things as I went. Here’s a step-by-step explanation what I did. (Note: If you follow her blog, please realize I condensed her steps a bit and put my own spin on them.)

Step One: Empty It Out
I removed every last paper clip, safety pin, and pen from the drawer and emptied it on to the floor.

Step Two: Sort into Trash, Treasure, and Transfer Piles
This is where it got a bit harder. I had to think about the things I truly wanted to keep in this drawer, my so-called “treasures.” I considered how often I used the items. Every day? Several times a month? Never? Since this is a drawer that is accessible, the items contained therein should be things that are used regularly. Also, and this was even harder, I considered how many of each item I needed. Sure, I use paper clips several times a week, so they should stay in the drawer. But do I need several hundred paper clips? Probably not. Office supplies are often only sold in mass quantities and very few of us actually need the quantity that we purchase.

After asking myself the hard questions, I narrowed down my items to these three piles (from left to right – Treasure, Transfer, and Trash):

Step Three: Put It Where It Belongs!
This was the fun part. I trashed the trash pile, surprised at how small it was. Then I put my “treasures” back in my drawer, admiring the clean, organized, minimized space I had created:

But I still wasn’t done. My “Transfer” pile needed an additional sorting. I didn’t want to donate everything in that pile, since some of the items belonged in my house, just not in my junk drawer. Additionally, some of the duplicate items would be useful at school. So I sorted it into three piles: 1) Transfer to Another Part of the House, 2) Transfer to School, 3) Transfer to Charity.

I found better homes for the first pile, bagged up the middle pile to take to school, and tossed the charity pile into my donation box. Voila! A decluttering project done on a Saturday during nap-time with enough time left over for me to shower and have a snack. Bliss!

Reflection on this Decluttering Strategy:
Miss Minimalist deserves her title. I have to say, emptying the drawer completely forced me to look at my items in a new light. And I liked that instead of just deciding what to get rid of, I was deciding what to keep. It’s a more positive way to declutter, focusing on what you love, what you want to keep in your life, what helps you and makes your life better. I will definitely use this strategy in the future!

How about you? Do you have one drawer or closet in your house that could use this treatment? Do you have 30 minutes? You can do it! Go, go, go, before you lose your motivation!

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