Essentials Drawer Organization


We all have it, that one drawer where things that don’t have a place go somehow seem to end up. Some call it a junk drawer, but I prefer to give it a new name, one deserving of the items we actually need in them. Let’s re-label it as the “Essentials Drawer.” 

If you’re just starting out organizing and thinking about tackling your kitchen seems like a daunting task, let me just take a little of that stress off of you and tell you to start with just one drawer. And, if you’re going to just pick one, I would argue that the drawer that can make the biggest impact will be your essentials drawer.

Having this drawer organized will be an incredibly satisfying task, and I can pretty much promise that once you’ve done this small drawer, it will give you a boost of confidence and serotonin that will have you wanting to (dare I say it), organize more.

Prior to starting this task, let’s make sure that you have the proper product needed for a drawer like this. The Essentials drawer holds items that vary in size, and as not every drawer is the same size or even has the same size items, I recommend that you piece together your own custom drawer set. I love these ones from The Container Store, or these from Amazon. 

ALWAYS measure your drawer before you buy to ensure that the bins you choose will fit, but don’t hesitate to buy a few more than you may need in varying sizes. Usually, people find that something they currently have in that drawer will get relocated, or that an item that is placed somewhere else may work better here. 

A quick tip: you can use wax or parchment paper to measure out your drawer and take it to the store to play around with varying sizes.


Before we begin, assure you have the proper amount of time to do this and have all supplies on hand. 20 to 45 minutes of uninterrupted time should be enough (not too bad right)? Set a timer if it helps motivate you, play your favorite upbeat music, and let’s get started!

Here’s my simple step-by-step guide on how to organize your Essentials Drawer:

Step 1: Empty the Drawer 

Take everything out of the drawer and spread it on a clean surface. Pulling all your items out will give you a clear view of what you have and allow you to properly assess your items. 

Step 2: Clean the Drawer 

Now that it’s got a new name and about to have a new look, it deserves a fresh start. Plus, you’ll feel so much better putting your items back into a clean space! 

Step 3: Categorize Items 

Sort the items into categories. Common categories may include: pens, post-its, small tools, batteries, cables, pads of paper, etc. Putting them all together like this will show you exactly how many of a certain item you have, and will help you identify what needs to stay in the drawer and what can be relocated.

Step 4: Declutter 

Here’s where we really get into it. I want you to touch each and every item, not just briefly glance at it, and ask yourself “do I need this,” “do I need this here,” and  “does it still work?” If the answer to any of these of those isn’t an immediate “yes,” then place it in a discard pile. Test your pens and keep only the ones that work and you like, toss the rest and don’t worry about it again! Let me say it louder for those in the back – you do not need more than 8 pens in this drawer, any more than that is clutter. This step is crucial to resetting this drawer and preventing it from becoming dysfunctional.

Editing can be a tough thing to tackle alone, it may take someone being there with you to help you make those decisions and that is absolutely okay. However, I would like you to picture yourself looking in your drawer for an item you need. How long did it take you? Now, picture yourself opening a completely organized drawer to find that same item, how quick and easy was that process?

The first step is to just start. Just do it, and see how good it makes you feel when you are finished! You can do this!

Step 5: Arrange Items 

Place the bins you purchased in the drawer and arrange to fit. Then, purposefully and thoughtfully put your items back into the drawer in an organized manner. Your most frequently used items should be placed in the front for easy access. Place any small items in small bins (ex: paperclips, buttons, tacks), and larger products in larger bins (ex: pads of paper, scissors, lighters). You may need to rearrange a few times before you find an assortment that you like and that’s okay! The goal here is containment – everything should have a home. 

Step 6: Make it Stick 

If you want a professional look and bins that stay in place, you need museum gel in your life! Roll a pea size amount between your fingers to create a ball and gently press it onto the bottom of your bin in a few different places where the bin meets the drawer (two should do the trick). This will keep each bin from sliding around when you open and close your drawer and doesn’t leave residue behind or cause any damage! 

Step 6: Regular Maintenance 

Organizing this drawer, and then returning to your old habits will not keep this drawer in good shape. Make it your routine to revisit and declutter your Essentials Drawer periodically. Regular maintenance will prevent it from becoming cluttered again, and you can quickly address any items that don’t belong.

Now, take a step back & appreciate the work that you did. Give yourself a pat on the back and know that you’re on your way to an organized home and I’m proud of you for taking this first step! Way to go!

We’d love to see your newly organized spaces or hear how this article helped you get started on your organizing journey. Comment on this blog or tag us @simplyorganizedco in any of your photos or videos!

Happy Organizing Friends!

Chantell Dennis | Owner & Founder of Simply Organized Company

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