Rhonda and I have had an organizing plan of action that we have used ever since we started Heart of the Matter back in 2004. We call it the HEART Process of Organizing.
H = Handle & Sort
E = Evaluate
A = Assign a Home
R = Restore Order
T = Tune-up
Some of you may chuckle (or even roll your eyes) when you hear me say that I’m in my happy place when I’m organizing, but it’s true! Recently I tackled my kitchen junk drawer and I realized that the concepts that I used there could act as a lesson for organizing any space in your home.
When we moved to our tiny house 3 years ago I decided that I was going to have 2 drawers in the kitchen that would fall into the category of “junk drawers”.
The first is the one you see open here that was mainly for office supplies.
The second, just to the right, is a spot that I can slide papers off the counter anytime I need to do a quick tidy.
This 2nd drawer is also a safe holding spot for things that I don’t know what to do with or where to store. Having this drawer available helps to keep my counter tidy. In this drawer I store
- larger pads of paper
- finances that I need to track monthly
- odd bits that I sometimes find and I don’t know what they belong to. Rather than throwing them out I leave them in this drawer for a while so I know where they are if I suddenly realize what they are!
Ok, back to drawer #1! This drawer has accumulated way to much since I first set it up. We keep adding extra things that don’t have a home and it needs editing.
Organizing Lesson #1 – Sorting
I took everything out of the drawer and sorted like things together. Amazing that ALL of this stuff was in that one small drawer.
Then I vacuumed out the drawer to clean out all of the dirt and bits of paper that had accumulated over the 3 years since I had originally set it up.
Organizing Lesson #2 – Once you have sorted like things together then evaluate what stays and what is garbage, recycling, donation or belongs elsewhere in the house.
In my project there were a few things like the bank envelope, the laundry hook and the safety pins that had homes elsewhere. I set them all together, but didn’t let myself stray from the task at hand.
Organizing Lesson #3 – Don’t Zig Zag. Discipline yourself to stay at the project you are working on. Set items aside that need to be delivered elsewhere. Take them to their homes at the end of the project. Don’t get distracted from your task midway through.
We had accumulated a lot of pens over 3 years! Way too many pens!
I decided how many I needed in the drawer. I picked out a few that were garbage, set aside some to add to our Heart of the Matter presentation bin and I bundled some with an elastic that would later go to the office supply bin that I had down in my basement.
I had a lot of hi-liters and I realize that I rarely used them. I tested them and kept the best 2 and the others were garbage.
Organizing Lesson #4 – Only keep what you are currently using and enjoying. You’ll be buried if you keep too many things ‘just in case’.
In my drawer I found a grease pencil. I don’t think I had ever used it. Why was I keeping it? I had no idea when I would ever use it, so I set it aside to donate.
I started a small coil notebook when we first moved to our neighbourhood and we were meeting lots of new people.
I wrote down names and house #’s and even bits of information to help me remember who was who. It has been helpful as I have included not just family names but pet names as well. I have referred to it quite a few times to help me out!
The front of the junk drawer is a great spot to store it as it is just inside the front door and easy to access when I need to refer to it!
I had accumulated WAY too many. I weeded them out and kept the ones I preferred and recycled the rest.
This drawer was a handy place to keep them as the kitchen counter was a spot that I usually prepared envelopes. Good to have them in the same spot as my return address stickers.
I had accumulated a couple. Which one is best? Hmm…..I guess the one that holds the sharpenings. I set the other one aside to donate.
I keep 3 kinds handy. Scotch, masking and electrical. I use the masking tape to mark my containers of leftovers that I put into the freezer. I’m married to an electrician, so early on I was taught the many virtues of the stretchy black electrical tape for all kinds of household fix-it jobs. We need them all close at hand.
Bulbs for Christmas lights
I had a little plastic bag of bulbs. They were in the junk drawer but I decided to toss them in the drawer beside instead. Remember that is the drawer where I put things that I’m not quite sure where to put. If I consistently do that then I would think to check there for something that I would only rarely use……like the replacement bulbs for the tree!
I had accumulated a few of these, and I realized that now that we no longer had students in the house we didn’t use them. I recycled them.
Every once in a while I like to have a little heart or happy face sticker so I did decide to keep these tucked in the front of this drawer.
I had accumulated a lot of markers…..too many markers!
I do have a habit of writing notes for myself using a chunky marker and a large scrap piece of paper so I did need a couple of that kind on hand.
I store my scrap paper for notes one drawer below the junk drawer, tucked in at the front.
I like to have a couple of sharpies handy because that is what I use to make my masking tape labels for leftovers headed to the freezer.
I weeded out the markers – pitched the dry ones, directed some sharpies that had gravitated to this drawer back to their home in work supplies and bundled a few extras to go down to my office supply bin in the basement.
Lesson #5 – Assign a home.
Once you have sorted like items together (so you can see what you have), and evaluated what you want to keep, then it is time to assign a home. This applies in all organizing projects and even in a small space like your junk drawer.
Let’s combine it with Lesson #6 – Restore Order. When we are on an organizing job, this is the spot where we think about product. As we have the fun of assigning homes to things it is often helpful to have some product in place to give boundaries to different categories of items.
Underneath all the mess I unearthed some containers that were part of the original set-up of the drawer. I decided that they were still good options so I kept them to use again once I had weeded out the drawer and had reasonable quantities.
I decided on a wire sectioned organizer that was the perfect size, and a set of 3 colourful containers that were originally part of a serving set.
Time to start putting things into their homes and seeing if everything fit the way I had hoped it would as I sorted and evaluated.
These are a few items that we like to keep handy.
- a set of small screwdrivers
- tape measure
- exacto knife
- electric tape
These items are only used occasionally, so I gave them a spot out of the way in the back of the drawer.
As I started to put things away I edited the quantities a little more if needed, in order to fit the boundary that I had created for them. I still had a few too many markers so I got rid of a few more so they would fit in their designated spot.
The 3 containers fit just right across the front of the drawer and were a great home for
- small post-it notes
- paper clips
- bulldog clips
The containers I had chosen gave me room along the sides and the front to create homes for a few other things that I needed handy.
On the left:
strips of paper I used for my finances
At the front:
- my stickers
- return address labels
- neighbours book
- small ziploc bag of stick tac
On the right:
- business cards
It came together well in the end and everything has a home!
I have a pretty little decorative tin that I leave on the counter. It had been empty, but I decided to keep a bit of overflow in there for now. It is easy to access when I need to replenish my supplies in the main drawer and the tin is pretty and makes me smile.
Once everything was put away then it was time to deal with the items that I had set aside to be returned elsewhere. One of the things that I came across in the mess was this little tape dispenser.
I don’t even remember where I got it, but it was individual pieces of tape and really quite nifty. I thought about where I was likely to use it and decided that maybe with my Christmas wrapping. I took it to the crawl space and slipped it into the Christmas wrap bin. It made more sense to have it there rather than taking up valuable real estate in the junk drawer where I had never used it. Once I had that tucked away, I made my rounds and returned everything that I had found in the drawer (that didn’t belong) to its proper home. In our organizing jobs we call this the domino effect. There are always things in one area that need to be taken elsewhere and either given a home or put in a home that already exists.
My project was complete, but it wasn’t the only one going on in the kitchen that morning!
Here is just one of the many reasons why I LOVE this guy!
While I was in my happy place organizing my junk drawer, Murray was fixing the lazy susan. A screw had come loose down in the bottom, and it was very awkward to get at, but my handyman extraordinaire got it figured out and tightened up!
Let Heart of the Matter get you to your happy place too! Contact us today to set-up your complimentary initial consultation!
Food for thought……
On my best day, may I not forget that I still need God as much as I did on my worst day. Amen