Embarrassing Drawer Challenge Complete!

Our second challenge seemed pretty straightforward. We decided we’d organize our most cringe-worthy drawer. Laura, an avid foodie with a big household, chose her freezer drawers and Marjie chose her bedside table drawer. We enlisted the advice of Colleen Collins Josellis of Organized Chaos Plus, so we had a plan before going in. Tackling a small project like this doesn’t take long but the results are so satisfying.

Laura’s Freezer Drawers

With a little extra time on my hands this summer, I’ve reorganized the junk drawer, the spice drawer and even a few office drawers, but I what I haven’t wanted to touch are the two freezer drawers that hold a mix of raw ingredients—hello, smoothies—a lot of baked goods, plus a few mysteries. Our daughter, who is a vegetarian and a talented baker, and I are great at adding food, but no one actually goes into the freezer and figures out what’s in the tupperware container and eats it. (Except for the stash of brownies! We all know where those are.)

I started by taking everything out of first one drawer and deciding keep or toss. Anything that we didn’t know what it was (mystery leftovers?) I tossed. Everything I kept got a label made with just a sharpie and some masking tape. There’s a place for Instagram-worthy tags, but the freezer just isn’t it. After cleaning the bottom of the drawers (that was the embarrassing part—all the crud on the bottom), I categorized ingredients. All of the nuts live in one section (We have so many kinds of raw nuts, check out the Nut Butter Granola Bars we made to use up some of the overabundance.) Smoothie ingredients are in the next section. Baking supplies get a section and then in the second drawer, I put things that were ready to eat: all the sourdough bread, rolls and pitas; veggie burgers; and all the homemade baked treats. It still looks a little sloppy (it’s those ziplock bags full of bread), but it functions beautifully!

Marjie’s Bedside Table Drawer

Since we downsized from our suburban house to a city condo a few years ago, I don’t have much personal space. My bedside table drawer is loaded with intimate objects, many of which are definitely embarrassing. Or maybe not. Doesn’t everyone have meditation crystals, CBD gumdrops and lube in reach of their pillow? While most of the stuff I had in my drawer was personal, it wasn’t all inspiring or necessary. If you’d like see everything I started with, take a peek at this quick video—or just scroll down to see the before-and-after pics.

Here’s all the embarrassing stuff in my bedside table. Any of these things in yours?

I began the project by considering this drawer as “sacred space” as organizing coach Colleen Collins Josellis calls it. This space is purely mine—and I do a lot of activities from my bed. Sleep is the biggie, but also I read, drink coffee, write in my journal, meditate, plan my day, connect with my husband and seek inspiration. Anything that supports those activities stays and everything else had to go, such as:

  • A needlepoint project I haven’t touched in years (tossed it)
  • A travel neck rest (moved to my suitcase)
  • five completed journals and six blank ones ( boxed, sealed and moved to office closet)
  • electronic gadgets and chargers (sorted and streamlined)
  • a bunch personal growth books I’ve already read (donate/shelved)

Honestly, the hardest part of this challenge was figuring out what to do with the stuff that didn’t belong in the drawer! Once I decided what would stay, I used clear plastic boxes to store the loose stuff like headphones and chargers and my oracle card decks. I popped things I needed to reach easily like pens, reading glasses, meds and sleep aids into an open drawer divider. I kept only my current journal and one spare in the drawer, along with a notepad for making lists. My Kindle got a prominent spot but the books I’m currently reading stay on top of the table. Spiritual stuff (crystals, candles, etc.) landed in a new gold box— because they’re special and deserve it. I tucked the lube into a discreet bag (along with my COVID cash stash). Since I freed up oodles of extra space, I decided to add some hand cream, cuticle oil and a nail file so I can take care of my nails when reading (instead of biting them). It only took 40 minutes, but now my drawer is both pampering and practical.

Final tips from us:

  • Don’t get distracted! It’s tempting to leaf through the books you’re sorting or text a friend about that recipe you shared, but that’s just a form of procrastination. Focus on the organizing, not the items themselves.
  • Plan for how you’re going to get rid of unwanted stuff upfront. Have a bag for trash, donation and the storage room set up from the start.
  • Group like with like, especially when you have a space that has to work for the whole family. Half of keeping a space organized is not having everyone else paw through it and mess it up!
  • Label! You might think you’ll remember that you froze half that lasagna for another meal, but will you really? When faced with an unknown, it’s easiest to ignore it and that’s how these drawers turn into messy spaces.

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