10 Junk Drawer Decluttering Tips

Let's go from this
to this  

I learned the cutlery tray organising trick years ago, I however was bad at space planning, a part of me was so traumatised by growing up around a narcissistic hoarder who policed the space with sudden rage episodes so jarring, I was stunned into shock and start disassociating, not just in front of her but anyone who expresses anger.

Angry people have always been the largest trigger for me. 

I started using it as a way to cope since I was 8, I was always caught of guard socially, feeling secretly ashamed of how "weak" I was and how I was always feeling out of control deep inside. It didn't help that this weak narrative was picked up by everyone in the family and ignorant strangers who don't know what learned helplessness is. 

As I had more achievements, I felt worse, I felt more undeserving deep inside, like I was being dishonest without overtly lying. I suffered imposter syndrome at work, I felt helpless about the string of never-ending, always escalating home maintenance issues. 

My achievements became my shield, my worthiness was all pegged to how many achievements I have, not how strong my principles and values were, the positive traits I liked the most about myself, such as empathy and compassion. 

This is the toxic result of chronic shaming, it makes us feel small and insignificant, to the point where accolades we work so hard for become meaningless to us, we can't accept praise even if people think of us positively.

We start feeling burdened by their praise to speed everything up, we're so foreign to being treated consistently with kindness, we overwork to earn more praise, that's when self sabotage occurs and we burn out. 

We can only focus on our mistakes and failures, we don't balance our self image with the good stuff, our inner critic beats us up and sabotage us even before people can point a finger, we have already screwed ourselves over with negative self talk. 

I was too overwhelmed about the idea of home decoration and home organising to deal with anything above cleanliness, basic organisation, keeping things out of open visual sight until now. 

My hard work at healing paid off, I now have the bandwidth to work through different areas of my life I once neglected. 

I never decluttered ever in my 40 years. When I started in 2020, I had no clue what to expect, I have gained so much experience since, practice does make progress. 

My things are all clean, I'm actually too much of a neat freak, my anxiety is around perfectionism, which I have managed to moderate as well. I had rough categories, I also had incomplete projects that took up room, unused impluse buys like everyone else, a few duplicate buys (this was a pleasant surprise, I thought I was worse) and random scattered sentimental things that don't seem to fit anywhere. 

Now, I measure twice and buy once, look twice and buy once. I worked through so many areas, the closet, the kitchen, the vainty table, the office, the art room, the exercise corner, the reading nook, the junk drawer being one of them. 

Home organising is such that you can't store immediately if another area is a hot mess, you do one area and find yourself stressed out about where the leftovers should go.

The first decluttering is the hardest, it gets easier as you go along.

Initially I bought affordable clear drawers for my wardrobes, then now I have categories, I have bins and dividers everywhere. I have upcycled large boxes, repurposed containers for plant pots, candle holders, etc.

Once you get started, things start to fall in place, you can also view the full magnitude of your stuff when they coexist together, you can mix and match much easier when you're organised.

You start creative problem solving using the tools and materials you already have, you innovate instead of replace. 

When you start somewhere, anywhere, you will have to tolerate a mess for a while. Then as it moves along, the mess is now another category that joins together seamlessly within a piece of furniture, within a space, within a budget and within a family. 

Synchronicity is magical! 

The time spent on chores go way down, your efficiency at home and in life goes way up, your sanitation levels go way up, your space relaxes to invite new beginnings, your mental health improves tremendously.

I have even been drinking 8 glasses of water daily, I have been eating more nutritiously than ever before, my energy levels is amazing.

You will notice how multiple tiny pockets you felt like a failure in, now you can fit it, as you compartmentalise your space, you're compartmentalising your mind as well. 

You're far calmer, far more intentional with buying and storing, building wealth, living healthier and might even start peopling with like minded people again. 

Imagine that. LOL. Oh the joy and the horror of socialising. LOL. It really is like clutter and organisation, it's not always pretty, you have to dump it all out and sort it through, sometimes it's utility you want, sometimes it's for vainty reasons and sometimes you derive meaning out of it. 

1. Remove all items, vacuum the drawer and organiser. 

2. Wipe down all of them with a wet wipe, remember the sides. 

3. Sort into keep and out piles 

4. Further divide keep pile into different categories. I have home maintenance, tech, sentimental items, remote/cheque book and stationary in this drawer alone.

5. Consider what you want this drawer for. If none of the things are regularly used there, then the option is start categories in other areas and leave this empty for now. 

I was using two cutlery trays stacked on top of each other, they were all the rage back in the day, it appears I caught the organising bug before the wave of Marie Kondo, The Minimalists & The Home Edit.

These good memories are gifts we find when decluttering, like the calculator is a sign I want to be more on the ball with money. I realised I trying harder at organising and my financial freedom than I gave myself credit for.

My aspirations were buried under the sheer volume of things I had. 

Gathering insights from these clues offered by our things is the most important part of home organising. Like Nancy Drew, you want to investigate further into your psyche and tease out the hidden desire inside the unconscious mind.

It's not a matter of Instagram worthy photos to impress your friends, it can offer us far more than visual appeal. 

This drawer was wasted, I'm more of a visual organiser, stacking like that is no good for me, I barely opened it for a reason. 

6. Take out the organiser and see if it fits better elsewhere, I found a shallower and wider drawer inside my vanity table for it. The 2 trays can be laid side my side there. It's utilising the height of the drawer fully, other than only the length. 

I thought about putting the tray over some existing dividers, until I reminded myself not to overcrowd a space. 

I want to see my stuff all at once, that's the only way I will make full use of them. 

Be mindful of reverting to bad habits, I know I had to stop myself many times and consciously override them. 

7. I wanted to go green, so I repurposed some dividers using old boxes. That's 2 old iPhone boxes in white, my pantry airtight jar packaging are the bigger ones that I cut, which I later customised so my pens are standing up instead of laying flat.

My stationary went to a larger drawer, where my pens are tied with rubber bands, seperated by permanent or non permanent markers.

Try to sort them out by how you like to use them, tie rubber bands so they stay in bunches. 

Sometimes, the reason why you don't use a drawer is because they aren't together with the rest, the selection is mixed, sparse, not here nor there.

Your experience using your things is boring, you don't have enough to get your creative juices flowing, you feel deprived, like someone giving you one ingredient to make a meal, you can't do that! 

These small hidden stressors can propel you to buy new things for excitement, that's one reason why people impulse buy, when you're starving yourself through lack of organisation, then you will splurge suddenly and then feel guilty AF after. 

They forget what they have and they forget how many things they already have to work with. 

8. Play around with different options, think about how many related things you have, I found another bunch of stationary that I added to this row. Having some discipline will increase creativity instead of diminish it, when you work with a brief of ownership, it means you take it all the way to the end. 

9. What I like about bins instead of dividers is you can shift an entire category to another place, it's really convenient. I can move an entire row by itself. 

I went to put the home maintenance stuff in my existing area, it was packed, should I start a larger organiser? Tried it in this drawer but didn't like it, put that idea on my to do list instead. 

This is how a category will become another category, soon you will have an entire house organised. 

10. The thumb drives need to be checked for info, that's on my to do list as well. Which reminds me I have to back up my computer after combining them. 

The key pile sparked a sentimental item box, in preparation for a gallery wall I was already planning. I already have the theme I want - curious nostalgia.

A mix of strange interesting items with art in frames I already own, added bonus of an interactive element of opening, spinning (yes please), treasure hunting and hidden gems, all inside a wall. 

Fingers crossed.

I'm so excited. 

I already let go of 100 bags of clutter successfully, what's left is what I use and also the weird once in a lifetime adjustment to empty drawers for now. I have one in my vanity, one in my linen closet, now this junk drawer is empty too.

I never had so much space between items, counter space, space inside furniture and outside it. 

It feels good to know I'm not stuffing them, I can let them breath as I let myself breath. 

I can do this. 


I am not betraying my hoarder mom for wanting better. 

I am not an ungrateful child no matter how many times people misunderstand me. 

I have to actively process my anger and resentment of her. 

I am not in charge of her happiness or the way she manages her house. 

I am only in control of my life, my possessions and my space. 

I'm part of Abracadabra Home Organising, we're helping people reclaim their space, one box at a time, check us out on Instagram and Facebook.

We also have a YouTube channel, where we upload cleaning, decluttering, home organising and upcycling videos. 

Feel free to find me on social media at the buttons above. 



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Quora - Min Lim 

Admin of Handmade Singapore Facebook Group

Admin of Creative Spirited Women meetup group in Singapore 

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