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A Professional Organizer’s Tips For Organizing Your Junk Drawer

They might surprise you.

neatly organized tools
The drawer of your dreams.

A good junk drawer is a treasure.

It’s a time capsule of projects past, present, and future. It’s what a new client will often pull out as evidence of a disorganized home.

"Look! We've failed as homeowners. Please help!"

But, contrary to your opinion of what a professional organizer deems acceptable, I don't equate the value of your existence based on a junk drawer, or even two.

I won’t judge you harshly for it, unless it’s not assembled correctly.

Stocking it well requires time and procrastination.

Like all good artwork and treasures, a well-crafted junk drawer doesn’t happen quickly. It grows slowly.

Pens and markers

Twenty-seven pens, markers, and eraser-less pencils are the minimum you should plan for. Four of the pens from your dentist and Who-waz-dat should be aged to perfection to drag ink blotches across the paper properly. Throw them back into the drawer and grab the next. Repeat.

Your stock of Sharpie markers will have just enough ink on a blunt tip to draw an unsatisfactory faint grey line. Soothe your frustration with the balm of optimism that they’ll magically moisturize to full black with more aging. Avoid overtaxing a landfill by throwing them away. Toss back into the drawer and try again.

Note pads

Your swag stash of post it notes with "Benny's Plumbing" and "Sew Smart" in giant letters makes you a marketer’s dream. It doesn't matter if there is not enough room to write on it or if out of business.

The magic number to collect is 28 assorted not-helpful note pads from the same folks that gave you those skippy pens. The printed logo and phone numbers stop you from recycling what used to be good tablets, before they got dusty and curled in the drawer. Fond memories and advertising stick, even if the note gum doesn't.


You’ll need 3, two of which work. The third is there to remind you to buy batteries.

piles of batteries
How many do you think are still viable?


You'll need lots of keys; the more sizes and shapes the better. It’s not important right now to know what locks they fit. Trying every key in every door is the perfect activity for a cold rainy day. Maybe someday. Let's pencil in January 2025?


It’s essential the strings you save be two inches shorter than needed. Stock the drawer with assorted sizes and types: kinked clothesline, twine, and shoelaces. The clothesline is for tying your car trunk closed, so be sure not to keep it in the car.


The ideal mix has a bit of plumbing, electrical, duct, and painting tape.

Verify the edges are appropriately fuzzed with