It may feel convenient in the moment to have a place to drop that pen, receipt, spare key, uncommon battery, birthday card, business card, mismatched lid… (oh, the list goes on) but when it comes to tackling an overflowing drawer, it suddenly does not feel so convenient.
Truthfully, we do not believe in the “junk” drawer because we don’t believe in keeping junk. Instead we offer some solutions for freeing yourself from the junk drawer trap once and for all.
Solution 1: Create a Dedicated Home for Stationary
You may already have an office or desk in which you house your stationary. If not, we suggest using a container, caddy, cart, cubby, drawer, or carrying case that is a suitable size for your total amount of stationary. Pens, sticky notes, scissors, and anything else that you might, say, go to Staples to purchase could fall under this category.
Supplies for arts and crafts may also fall under this category or may warrant having their own storage solution.
Solution 2: Make Your Electronics Storage Area More Robust
If you have somewhere where you are already storing electronics not actively in use such as DVD/CD players, gaming systems, storage devices, outlet splitters and extension cords, cameras, etc. (and we think you should!), consider adding space for spare cords, headphones, and various types of batteries as well. Twist ties, elastic bands, or clever wrapping techniques will keep your cords untangled and easy to find.
Solution 3: File Your Little Papers Too
When we think of filing paperwork, file folders and filing cabinets may come to mind, but these solutions are not necessarily the best fit for the smaller papers, receipts, and cards that we accumulate. In fact, each of these sub-categories may require their own solutions.
For business cards, papers with important information, identification documents, store loyalty cards, gift cards, and even stamps or transit tickets, consider a zipper pouch that opens like a binder (searching online for “budget binder” or “travel document case,” is a good place to start). An added bonus to storing all of these important things together is that they will be easier to grab in case of emergency, and it’s even possible to find fire-proof, waterproof options!
For receipts, we like an envelope or filing system made specifically for this purpose (searching for “receipt envelope” or “receipt folder” produces many suitable results). You will need to consider how long you need to keep your receipts for, and which categories are relevant to you. Product manuals should live together in a dedicated home such as in your tool or paperwork storage area.
Some Receipt Categories to Consider
1. Items within the return window
2. Retailers/items with lifetime return/replacement policy
3. Items under limited warranty (consider writing warranty period on the receipt or storing these receipts with your manuals)
4. Business expenses
5. Medical expenses and other benefits/tax-related expenses
6. Vehicle expenses
7. Home renovation expenses
Paper keepsakes such as birthday cards, photos, invitations, and other sentimental papers that have no practical uses and no need to be filed precisely can go to your keepsake storage bin or container.
Our #1 tip for sorting out your junk drawer is to consider each item one-by-one. Avoid getting overwhelmed with the sheer variety of items by dealing with only one item at a time and not thinking ahead to the next item.
Here are some categories to keep in mind when cleaning out your junk drawer:
3. Small Papers
4. Toiletries, First Aid, Hair Accessories, Jewellery
5. Sewing Supplies
6. Tools, Tape, Adhesives (including 3M hooks and furniture pads)
7. Edible Goods (like candy and condiment packets)
8. Toys and Games
Many of these items are already stored elsewhere in the house and just need to be put away! Once you have found the true home for all of the inhabitants of your junk drawer, consider getting rid of the junk drawer once and for all. Reclaim that space for something worthwhile! And remember that there are no miscellaneous items, just items that have yet to be properly categorized.