I launched Personal Money Manager in 2008 with a presentation about organizing. If you live in New York’s Hudson Valley, you might have heard it! I used the proverbial junk drawer as my model for sharing organizing tips. But read on.
Why a junk drawer?
Everyone knows what it is and probably has one (or more). Organizing it is a small, quick, do-able organizing task. It’s a great way to learn the basic concepts of putting “like with like” and “containerizing”. And, when you’re finished, you can step back, admire your handiwork, celebrate a small victory, and ready yourself to tackle bigger organizing challenges.
My own junk drawer.
While I was spreading the organizing gospel to eager audiences, thank goodness no one asked me about my junk drawer! The one in the kitchen to the left of the sink.
On an otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon, I finally took my own advice. I pulled out the drawer, dumped its contents, wiped out the dust bunnies, gathered some small plastic bins and proceeded to put back only what I needed in the kitchen: functional items that fit neatly. Everything else I either threw out or put where it really belonged—like my office or den. Then I stepped back and marveled at the results.
Mission accomplished. No more wondering if I was out of twist ties or if I was going to find my favorite peeler. And maintaining order is a breeze.
Not so fast. Here’s another thought. (Professional organizer playing devil’s advocate here.)
Maybe that kind of perfection doesn’t meet your needs. Perhaps “organized junk drawer” is an oxymoron. If you need a safety valve, that place of last resort to search when you’ve almost given up on finding a “lost” item, a messy, catch-all place in your house (or office) may be exactly what you need: that last best hope.
Or maybe this small patch of chaos just doesn’t bother you.
Is “perfectly organized” overrated? Is it time to stop stressing over clutter where it doesn’t really matter to you—not negatively impacting your life? If so, what better place to experiment than with a low risk spot? That’s what I did when I decided years ago that the sink didn’t have to be cleared every night before bed and the bed didn’t need to be made every morning. (Sorry, Mom!)
Let your feelings be your guide when you choose your (clutter) battles!
Here are 3 ideas for choosing your clutter battles:
(1) Let it go.
Drop the burden of organizing projects that truly don’t matter to you. Clients often point to an area of disorganization—maybe the front closet or maybe that junk drawer—as proof of their hopeless disorganization. But on further examination, that particular clutter spot has not negatively impacted their life, which explains why they don’t set aside time to tackle it. Be honest. If it’s truly a problem, dig in, perhaps with assistance. Otherwise, let it go!
(2) Make peace with those little notes.
Putting “to-do’s” and other thoughts in writing is a great memory aid. There are many situations where taking notes makes sense – like during phone calls when you want to remember who you spoke to and when and what was discussed. A larger find-able notebook is a better place for these jottings. But if sticky notes are your go-to, that’s OK! Simply corral them in one or two central places so they can be found again—maybe on the fridge or calendar. Review them periodically and toss the “stale” ones.
(3) Think in broad categories.
Paid bills, for example, may not have to be super organized in file folders, by vendor, in reverse date order (newest in front) like I prefer. But there are alternatives: Separate paid from unpaid bills and move the paid ones aside. If you need more order, batch them by vendor: utilities, household services, etc. Try bins or magazine holders for quick sorting. A few simple steps can save you time and may be all the organizing some papers require.
Just the other day, I was asked at the end of a newer presentation (one not focused on junk drawers), “So what do you think about junk drawers?” I turned the question back to the audience. It seemed evenly split between those who loved them and those who hated them. To the ones that hated them, but also admitted to having at least one in their home, I had a simple message: Just do it!
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