Everyone has a junk drawer. Some people have a junk closet or a junk room.
I have a closet in one upstairs bedroom that accumulates random things. We also have two “junk drawers” in our kitchen. My father? He has an entire “junk garage” that’s just teeming with stuff, as well as two additional sheds full of things.
Don’t get me wrong, these places are typically not full of actual junk. Instead, they’re usually full of a mix of things. Some of the things in there are miscellaneous items that we want to have on hand for specific situations: electrician’s tape, scissors, a USB cable converter. Other items are things that we’re worried about throwing away: an AC adapter from an unknown item, for example. Still other items truly tend towards junk, like some documentation from an item you no longer own.
Clutter attractors do still present a problem, though.
For one, the more items you have jammed into a clutter attractor, the harder it is to find a specific item that you want. Finding the set of small screwdrivers in a big junk drawer jammed full of stuff turns into a puzzle instead of a quick retrieval of an item.
For another, many of the items in a clutter attractor eventually do become junk. You stick an AC adapter in there, but later find that you have another AC adapter that works fine, so you forget about it. There’s a pair of scissors in there, but you have another pair elsewhere that you use more often. There’s a lot of documentation in there for various things, but you no longer have that cell phone or the item the AC adaptor goes with has long been boxed up waiting for the next yard sale. Sometimes, you’ll find something valuable in a clutter attractor, usually an item that you’ve forgotten about that’s actually really useful to you or has significant potential value in a yard sale or other such opportunity.
The best solution to such a problem is to buckle down and tackle those clutter attractors.
What I do when I tackle such an attractor is to simply empty everything out of that clutter attractor. For example, if I’m cleaning out a junk drawer, I’ll literally take out that drawer and empty the contents of that drawer out on the table. If I were to clear out a junk closet, I’d empty out the closet into the adjoining room. A junk room? Pull everything into the next room.
Then, once all of the items are out of place, I start evaluating them. Is this really something I need to keep? If it is, where should this item actually go? Asking these two questions honestly of each item and then reacting appropriately based on the answer clears up a lot of the material one might find in a clutter attractor.
The challenge with this technique is to do it regularly. Eventually, almost everyone will begin to re-accumulate clutter in those clutter-attracting areas of their home and the problem of not finding anything or leaving behind important things will eventually resurface.
I suggest doing this on a schedule, then. Every six months is a good one, as you can do it as part of a spring cleaning and a fall cleaning.
This way, you’ll find it easier and quicker to locate the items you need and you won’t lose track of other important things. You might even find a treasure or two.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.