Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when you think about cleaning and organizing?
Sure, there might be some initial excitement to getting things in order, but when you actually look at the scope of a project, you might feel discouraged, buried, or paralyzed by all you want to accomplish. And then when you do get started, it can be so easy to get distracted by the smaller tasks that seem to pop up along the way.
Today we’re going to help you out.
We’re going to start simply–with just one drawer…cleaned in one sitting.
I want you to feel EXCITED about this drawer. (I know it sounds crazy, but stick with me!)
Because this is actually not just about cleaning “a drawer”. It’s about seeing how this small effort is going to help you move forward in other areas of your life.
So get your drawer-organizing fingertips ready because we’re going to show you how to get it done WHILE you’re listening to this podcast. You can either pause where needed or listen to the whole thing first and then jump in and implement the ideas you learn – although I’d recommend skimming through the steps below, to see the big picture before getting started!
Let’s dive in.
Before you get started, choose your drawer (or most-often-used hot spot) and get these tools ready:
- Trash can
- A designated place to put things to donate
- A designated place to put things that go “somewhere else” in the home or office
- A Context-Based Next Actions list (with sections titled as follows: home, phone, computer, to discuss, and errands). I’ve included one in the “Clean-A-Drawer” printable. You can learn how to use the Context-Based Next Actions list more fully in the podcast and our free webinar.
Click the image below to receive the Clean-A-Drawer printable!
Step 1: Empty the Drawer
Take everything out of the drawer–without getting distracted. Just make a big pile.
Step 2: Clean the Drawer
Wash out any crumbs or dust and then dry it. Don’t stress if you don’t have shelf paper or if you see a stain. If you can polish this up in two minutes, great, but otherwise, don’t worry about it!
Step 3: Identify the Drawer’s Purpose
Before you put anything back, ask yourself this KEY question: “What do I come to this drawer to find?” Try to answer that without looking at the piles. Just think about what you hope to locate when you go to open it. For example, one of our kitchen cupboards is where I go for a screwdriver, batteries, bandages, my camera, coins, and the place cards for our table. When cleaning that cupboard, I found random things that were definitely not “supposed” to be in there, like orthodontic supplies, an old digital frame, speakers we never use, and a random basket. Identifying the purpose of this drawer will help you in the next step. 🙂
Step 4: Put the Right Things Back
I know it sounds ridiculously simply, but at this point, you just put those things you DO hope to find BACK in a nice, organized way. This is also a good time to note what the drawer needs. What do you go to this drawer to find that is not currently there? If you can grab what is needed from around the house in 2 minutes or less, do it now. Otherwise, use your Context-Based Next Actions list to write down what you need to buy (errand or computer order), gather (home task), or get back from a family member who misplaced it (to discuss).
Step 5: Sort Through the Pile
Go through each item that is left in the pile. There are only three options for where they will go: the trash, the donation spot, or the place for things that go “somewhere else.” If you do decide something from that pile really does belong in the drawer, that’s fine, but make those decisions CAREFULLY. The last thing you want is to shove everything back into the drawer and end up where you started.
- Do I actually use this?
- Can I bless other people with this?
And always – “If in doubt throw it out!” (Or donate/recycle.) For more ideas, check out the links at the bottom of this post
Step 6: Add Tasks to Your Context-Based Next Actions List
Often, ideas come to mind as you are cleaning that may not be linked to the actual drawer-cleaning process. If that happens, add it to your Context-Based Next Actions list. This can be done anytime in the process. For example: I need new batteries (errands), we need more photos on this digital frame (computer), someone needs to sharpen all these pencils (home), I should buy organizers for the drawer (errand).
Step 7: Identify Routines to Help you Maintain Order
This is the step that most people skip, but this is one that will help you maintain order. Identify the routines that you’ll need to have in place to keep your drawer organized and tidy moving forward. A conversation with your children might sound like this: “These markers don’t go in the drawer. They go in the art cupboard…” Or, “When you use the scissors to cut open a package, don’t leave the package remnant you cut off in the drawer…. Put it in the wastebasket.” (This would be a great time to start a training session for your family. Then after the initial training, set a calendar trigger to remind you to follow up with the family to see how it’s going!)
Why does this matter? Isn’t this just a drawer?
The principles we are using to clean out a drawer are simple, but they carry over to other areas of our lives. Whether we are organizing drawers, maintaining order in our homes, or handling projects at work, we are establishing patterns to follow. If you are living in piles (mental, physical or digital), there is a path to get out! Yes, it takes effort, but you’ll feel a sense of progress and momentum that will keep you going day after day. We simply encourage you to start today–with just one drawer.
If you want to clean out a drawer and share your results, we’d love it! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your pictures to our Facebook post and then share with your friends! What are some of the unexpected things you found in your drawer? Share your experience in the comments below!
The “Clean-A-Drawer” Printable:
This resource has 2 pages that will be helpful to you, as you clean out your drawers:
- Page 1: Family Training Sheet – Use this page to teach your family the seven-step method to cleaning the drawers in your home.
- Page 2: Context-Based Next Actions List – Use this page to record any next actions that come to mind (related or not!) as you are cleaning out your drawer.
Click the image below to receive the Clean-A-Drawer printable!
The podcast I recorded with Julie Morgenstern, “Secrets for What to Do When You Want to Keep EVERYTHING.” In this heart-to-heart interview, Julie gave some break-through ideas on how to answer the often-asked question, “How do you know what to keep and what to throw away?”