A Productivity Expert Tells Us How to Organize Our Junk Drawers (And Keep Them That Way) (2024)

A Productivity Expert Tells Us How to Organize Our Junk Drawers (And Keep Them That Way) (1)

No matter how organized you keep your closet, or how neatly you style your bookcase, odds are, there's a junk drawer hiding somewhere. Whether it's in your kitchen or entryway, laundry room or nightstand, your junk drawer is made to be a "dump it and forget it" zone. However, while keeping clutter out of sight is essential to both a calm home and calm mind, what happens when you need that Kindle charger or spare AA battery?

Organizing your junk drawer can feel like a daunting task, but luckily we have Regina Lark, an organizing and productivity expert who was featured on Hoarders, to walk us through the steps. "A junk drawer is just a drawer that doesn't have a purpose yet," Lark explains. "It's delayed decision making." When you're done, your junk drawer will be an organized oasis of spare keys, office supplies, and whatever else you deem "junk," rather than a pile of chaos that barely allows the drawer to close.

Before You Begin

If it's junk, why are you holding onto it? This is the first question Lark asks when approaching a junk drawer organization task. "Before any actual organization can occur, you need to determine a real purpose for the drawer," she explains. "Is it a utility drawer for hardware tools, does it hold stamps and office supplies? Figuring this out will eliminate the concept of a junk drawer all together." Lark also suggests to block time off on the calendar. Even if it's just an hour from now, put it in the calendar."If you say you'll do it later, or someday, those days never actually arrive," she says. Like any good wedding reminds us, set a date!

How to Organize a Junk Drawer Step-by-Step

What You'll Need

  • Spare towel or sheet
  • Bowl of warm, soapy water
  • All purpose-cleaner
  • Trash can
  • Recycling bin
  • Timer

Step One: Take Everything Out

The first step to any organization task is to start with a blank slate. Remove everything, yes, everything from your junk drawer. Dump the contents onto your tower or spare sheet, and begin assessing what the drawer held. While removing we recommend sorting into piles of like items—spare batteries, charging cords, trash, pens, etc—so you can get a good look at what you primarily use this drawer for.

A Productivity Expert Tells Us How to Organize Our Junk Drawers (And Keep Them That Way) (2)

Completely empty out the drawer and clean it with warm, soapy water.

Step Two: Remove Trash and Clean

Discard all trash and take any items that don't belong in your junk drawer (aka items that have designated homes elsewhere), and put those things away. Now, you can get to organizing only the items that need to be there. Take any old keys, coins, and the like and place a bowl of warm, soapy water. You'll be tempting to test which door the keys belong to, but Lark insists that staying at the organization station is essential. Wipe down the drawer's interior with an all-purpose cleaner to give yourself the best starting point possible.

Step Three: Measure Your Drawer

There's nothing worse than blindly buying organization bins and baskets only to find that they don't actually fit when you get home. To avoid this hassle, measure the length, width, and depth of your drawer prior to going to the store to buy bins. We also suggest that you measure any oversized or oddly shaped items in order to find the perfect sized bin to place them in.

Step Four: Organize

Now, start the timer. Even if you don't finish in the time you allowed, that's okay. "It's a learning experience," Lark says. "You need to figure out your relationship with time in order to be successful with the next project." We recommend beginning with 40 minutes or so and seeing how much you can get done in that time frame.

Start by arranging your bins in the most efficient way you can. Place bins for like items near each other (like pens and sticky notes), so everything is easier to find when you're rushing to grab them. Put all of your junk drawer essentials back in their rightful place, and voila, a functional storage solution.

A Productivity Expert Tells Us How to Organize Our Junk Drawers (And Keep Them That Way) (3)

It doesn’t have to be Pinterest-worthy to be a tidy, organized system that works for you.

Step Five: Maintain

Now, we all wish we were as aesthetically pleasing as The Home Edit or Marie Kondo, but the truth is, organization is only as good as long as you're able to keep up with it. If you know you're more of a 'know where everything is in that pile' kind of person than a 'labeled basket fridge restock' kind of person, don't choose junk drawer organization methods that aren't what you're willing to maintain.

Lark reminds us that while you may block off time to organize, you also have to block off time to put things back. It doesn't have to be immediate, but whether it's at the end of the day or the end of each week, give yourself time to right your wrongs. "There's a reason restaurants have closing shifts," Lark says. "A home is also a place to be managed, so treat it as such." We promise you'll feel much better in the mornings if you put away those dishes and fold your through blankets before turning in for the night.

Remember, functionality is key. If your pens aren't color-coded, who cares, as long as you can actually find them when your junk drawer organization is done.

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