How to Feel Good by Opening a Single Drawer–Declutter, Discover, and Create in One Small Space


Feel overwhelmed?  No time for anything?  Cursing those apparently perfect people (let us call them PPs) who smile a lot and seem to have everything in order?  Guess what?  They don’t (and the smile is a grimace, grasshoppers).  It’s the illusion of the margarine commercial, the enticement of the biscuit ad.

They, too, have their secret stashes of smouldering stuff.

Yes, you heard me, stuff.  Smouldering stuff.

Smouldering PP stuff.

When the little director in their heads yells, “Cut,” and the studio lights strobe down, when the guests go home, and the dishwasher begins its mesmeric hum, that’s when the smiley grimaces disappear and they, too, the PPs, have to deal with their stories of stuff, their stuffy PP stories.

Stuff in drawers.

Innocent looking enough on the outside, the drawer has come to symbolise the epitome of the bland but lethal cover story for stuff.  But it doesn’t have to be so.  You, grasshopper, and you, PP, can turn the drawer into your friend.

You can declutter, discover and create in your drawer space, and you can do it now.

First, categories.  May I suggest three: Declutter, Discover, and Create.

Here’s how it works.  Remove the drawer of choice – try the one in the kitchen – you know which one.  The one with all the stuff shoved into it for later consideration and culling.  Mine’s full of keys, stamps, pens, random pieces of paper, spare night-light bulbs, 4,231 Allen keys (yes, we love Ikea), the magnifying glass I’ve had since I was five years old, and so on.  Just the usual.

Make three piles: yes, a declutter pile, a discover pile, and a create pile.

The declutter pile is going in the bin, so get used to it now and be ruthless.  Don’t keep the spare Allen keys – you already have a set in the shed; get rid of the nifty collection of bent paper glides (spend a dollar fifty on a new box), and don’t even think about letting that dried out Blu-tack stay for dessert.

Next, discovery.  Set aside the things you know retain their usefulness, the things you really will use fairly often.  Be honest now, no bent paper glides, unless they come from the desk of the Dalai Lama; no old Allen keys long detached from the furniture they serviced, unless Allen himself spat on them; no dried Blu-tack even if the cat formed it into a rudimentary Mother Teresa face  (sell it on eBay instead).

Finally, create.  This is the fun pile, the pile that contains the things you’ll use to create a memoir – maybe not today, so make a few notes as you create this pile, because memories will come back to you upon first seeing these items, and you don’t want to lose them.

These are the things that have real meaning for you, the things you’d never discard or destroy.  I put my magnifying glass into this category.  I don’t know how it’s managed to resist the ravages of time and multiple house and city moves, but it has, and every time I use it (more often these days – those pesky labels are getting teenier and teenier) I remember my childhood, which of course opens up all kinds of memoir possibilities, just as this exercise will for you, grasshoppers (and PPs).

So go to it, friends, and open a drawer – I’ll smell the enticing smoulder of stuff about to become former stuff and future legacy, and I’ll salute you with my magnifier and not a grimace, but a smile.

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