I went to work on that box straight away, applying my usual system to go through all the items quickly and efficiently: I dumped everything out of the box and started sorting it into categories. Once I had finished this task, I was presented with a lot of pens of all kinds, cutters & scissors, glue, erasers, pencil sharpeners and other odd stuff that didn’t belong in the first place. It was clear at that point that I had two kinds of things: ‘writing’ and ‘miscellaneous’ tools. While the miscellaneous stuff fit neatly into one of the boxes, the ‘writing tools’ formed such a large pile that it made sense to separate them into types.
Before even reorganising them, I tested them all and found that about half of them were dried up or otherwise useless. It breaks my heart to throw anything out – especially if it is office related – but those pens went into the bin straight away – they were utterly useless unless I wanted to build a glue-gunned pen castle someday. Not likely.
After sorting them into types, I had groups of felt pens, ball point pens, pencils, markers, and others. Still, I found that for some of those categories I had collected so many that I really could not see when I would actually use them. You know how you keep getting business gift pens with some company’s name on it? I had a whole handful of those, and I do not usually write with ball point pens anyway! So I took the next step and reduced the remainder to a couple of each type and dumped the rest into the bin. If you know somebody who could use them, by all means, give them away!
I understand you might think this is throwing money out the window. But since I never actually remembered these were here, it is likely I’ll never use them anyway.
Because I had no divided box at hand to place my remaining organised collection into, I used rubber bands to tie the groups together. Those pens are stock, really, so there is no particular need to access a particular one at short notice, and rubber bands do nicely for such situations. Although I still have two boxes, one of them holds cutter, erasers, scissors, spare tape, glue, and such things. And the other one has nothing but my stock of writing tools in it.
This means that at the end of this exercise, I had three containers: miscellaneous supplies, writing tools and a bin, plus some other items that had to be relocated elsewhere. After placing the boxes back in the original drawer, it not only looks nice, but I can actually find what I’m looking for.
As you can see, I have applied nothing but the usual tricks (because this works!):
Try your hand at your desk drawer and you’ll see this is a very simple way to deal with it. It’s also a good starter project to find out how you actually feel about letting things go. If you have a hard time throwing things out, maybe you need to think about the reasons why that is so…
Ask the ClutterMeister
Ideas to help clear away the mess in your homes and in your minds.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My mission: help clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.