STYLE Savvy: Dr. Clutter and Mrs. Organized


In my office, I have two unassigned drawers — that is to say that they currently serve as “home” to no specific items. One has served several purposes, but, because of my I need to see it style, none of those plans have stuck. Right now, it holds some writing projects and some “miscellaneous files” (always bad news from an organizational perspective), but I wouldn’t call the space well-utilized.

The other is drawer is a small one, the lone, empty drawer in a three-drawer unit. Its companions hold, among other things, FitBit wristbands and toilet paper tubes decorated with washi tape and pressed into service as cord storage. Unlike my drawer-in-limbo, it’s an organizational coup — easy to use and in keeping with my styles, I can find what I’m looking for in under five seconds. Because these small drawers have clear, labeled fronts, I can not only glimpse the contents, but I also know what’s inside even before I open them — the labels remove all the mystery.

As an I need to see it person, I need this, ahem, transparency. That’s why my wonderful, large drawer with projects and miscellany is a drawer in limbo in a room that still has piles that need sorting. I could take a page out of the I know I put it somewhere handbook and transfer the stacks from my counter (which looks much better this week, I must say) to the drawer. Unfortunately, that would simply hide the problem, rather than solving it; my counter would look better, but I wouldn’t be any more organized. Worse yet, those papers could sit in that drawer, hidden from sight, for years before I paid attention to them again, which means that I’m taking a significant risk if I put anything important or time sensitive in that wonderful, practically empty space, unless I’m using it as a stepping stone for getting rid of things.

Meanwhile, in another spot in the office, a rolling bin has been pressed into service as file storage for my active class files. Previously, it collected dust as the official storage place for all of my notes on organization, but, when I needed a place (besides the chair in the living room) to keep my class files, I rethought the plan. I moved the organization files — which I don’t need to access on a daily basis — to the family room to create space in my office for the files I touch every day.

What, you may ask, is the purpose of all of these stories?

Image via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Image via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain


Balance between overstuffed and just right = room to grow (my empty/unassigned drawers).

Balance between my I need to see it personal style and my drop and run organizational style = a “just right” container (my rolling bin) that makes it as easy for me me to put things away as it is to put them down.

Balance between the easy answer and the one that makes sense = time + patience + trial + error.

It’s amazing how easily we fall into — and stay stuck in — habits that don’t work. Overstuffed drawers. Housing everyday things in out-of-the way storage. Choosing the wrong container because it was pretty or cheap or it worked for someone else.

Getting organized and staying organized means constantly reassessing what goes where and whether or not the storage we choose is the best choice. It means finding what works and replicating it so that eventually, everything has a home that’s as easy to use as the default surface we choose when we’re too exhausted to put things where they belong.

Needless to say, it’s a process. And sometimes, empty drawers share space with homeless piles.

But every once in a while, we solve the puzzle and find that glorious, replicable, perfect storage solution.

And there is hope among the piles.

Copyright 2016 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and is a blogger at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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