Expert Advice on Organizing Drawers

Colleen Collins Josellis founder of Organized Chaos Plus. Photo by Jordan Josellis

In her 16+ years as an organizer, Colleen Collins Josellis, founder of Organized Chaos Plus, has developed a philosophy that serves her clients whether she’s coaching, organizing or consulting with them. “You need to look at your ideas or things, get rid of the ones that don’t work for you, and move forward with those that do and get them organized,” she counsels. Colleen also believes that organizing a small space has a ripple effect, especially when there’s chaos everywhere (like our lives this summer?!).

Feeling good about the impact that organizing one small drawer would have, we got down to the nitty gritty advice we needed before emptying out those pits of forgotten dreams and mysterious frozen hunks (lol, aka our drawers).

Set Up a Structure

Nothing in life is one and done, and that includes keeping drawers organized. For the freezer drawers (where multiple people in the household fill and empty them), Colleen recommends setting up zones: prepared foods, frozen vegetables, smoothie ingredients, etc. Organization also means keeping a sharpie and masking tape on hand, so it’s easy to label new items before adding them to the freezer. For Marjie’s bedside drawer, Colleen recommends using smaller containers to subdivide the drawer. She’s a big fan of clear shoebox-size containers that you can get at Target or Container Store.

Triage

Once you know how you’re going to keep things neat. It’s time to actually do it! For Marjie’s bedside table, Colleen recommends considering that drawer as a sacred space that only belongs to her. It’s not the place to keep stamps or extra chargers. “Now that we live in a condo, I don’t have that much space for myself,” Marjie says loving Colleen’s affirmation. “That bedside drawer has become important to have as my own.” She also thinks a bedside drawer shouldn’t be storage, but should be for the book you’re currently reading, the journal you’re using daily, etc. For the freezer, the obvious triage is to check edibility and the probability anyone will eat that mystery food. When in doubt, throw it out!

Time It

Colleen recommends setting a timer for 30 or 60 minutes, so you don’t get overwhelmed and can focus on the task at hand. Then, once you’ve tossed, categorized, cleaned out the drawer and replaced everything in nicely separated and grouped sections, you’ll only need 15 minutes every now and then to maintain the order.

What drawer are you going to tackle? Let us know how it goes!

Laura Loves… Nut Butter Granola Bars from Bon Appétit

You’ll see from our latest challenge—where we restyled our most embarrassing drawers—that my drawers were the duo of deep freezers that sit beneath my side-by-side refrigerators. Once I took everything out, it was clear that we are overflowing with nuts! Raw pistachios, raw cashews, raw pepitos, raw almonds… we overindex on that Trader Joe’s aisle. Before I could organize, it was crucial to use up some of our vast supply. Which led my daughter, Emmie, and me to the Nut Butter Granola Bars in the August 2020 issue of Bon Appétit. Delicious and easy to pull off. This recipe is useful for using up a lot of nuts, and it’s the perfect snack for any late-summer outdoor adventures. It’s probably healthy too, so win-win-win!