mental health, productivity

Declutter Your Life Part 2: The Junk Drawer

Welcome back to my series, Declutter Your Life! (If you missed part one, you can check it out here) In this series, we are focusing on the cluttered areas of our lives, and what we can do to make things a little tidier, inside out.

This time we are focusing on the junk drawer. Think about it – everyone has one! It may not necessarily be a drawer, but everyone has something, be it a bin or a table or even a whole room, where they keep collections of things they don’t know what to do with. Why is that? How can we work to eliminate the clutter in these spaces?

Before I begin, I want to point out a few important things. The first is that I don’t think having a place to put miscellaneous belongings is necessarily bad. We all need a place where we can just dump our clutter for a short period of time until a time when we can give it the attention it deserves (think about that chair many of us throw our I don’t know if they’re clean clothes). However, that place needs to be maintained and put in order every once in a while, just so that we don’t run amuck with stuff.

The second thing I want to point out is why it’s important to declutter these spaces. As I mentioned in the previous post, decluttering helps us to take authority over our spaces, our belongings, and our lives. It also helps us to organize our minds. Although many of us may claim to function better in a busy environment, I think it is beneficial to just about everyone maintain a tidy place to work and live. Don’t believe me? Perhaps it’s time to try it out.

The first step in tidying up the junk drawers of life is to see what’s really there. If it’s actually a drawer you’re working with, I suggest emptying the drawer completely. This allows your drawer space to start over, and in the process of putting each item back in, you are able to really decide what to keep and what to pitch.

If it’s a room or large space (for me, it’s the top of the dresser in my bedroom) it can be a bit trickier, but a good way to start is by sorting what you have into like-object piles. That way you know exactly what you have, and maybe you will be able to start putting together some strategies to deal with each pile.

The next important thing to do is to throw away unnecessary or broken items. So much of the clutter on the surfaces of my home consists of empty pens, dried-up chapsticks, little pieces of paper and sticky notes, and what-have-you’s whose presence I can’t even explain. A lot of the time, the junk that accumulates in my home is really just stuff I need to throw away but haven’t yet, for various reasons.

Also note that when it comes to decluttering your space, it helps to be absolutely ruthless. If you can’t immediately figure out what to do with an object, maybe it’s time to let it go. (And I know this is hard – I have an emotional connection to almost everything that comes through the door, so getting rid of stuff sometimes feels like the worst).

After you’ve thrown out garbage and unusable items, look at what you have left. These are the things you are going to keep, but not in the junk drawer. If you feel like the only place to put them is back in the junk drawer, then my instinct is that maybe it’s time to let it go.

Consolidate the rest. I usually put things into categories by rooms or by function – office supplies go together, clothes go together, etc. – and then start the process of putting things in their proper place. While you’re putting things away, perhaps you’ll find that either it doesn’t fit or it doesn’t go exactly where you thought it might. This is okay. Maybe it just means that it’s time for it to go, too.

In the end, you will probably find that most of the junk is just that – junk. A lot of it will work its way into the trash or into Goodwill bags. And you know what? That’s almost better than having it find a place in your home!

Like I said earlier, I think everyone needs a ‘junk drawer’ space, or a space where they can dump their stuff until they have the time to put it all away. That being said, it can quickly get out of hand.

I recommend going through these steps at least once a month in order to stay on top of the clutter. Although the first few times you do it may be difficult, after a while you may find that it gets easier – it may even become fun!

What habits keep you on top of your clutter? I’d love to hear from you!

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