Last year, I made a half-hearted attempt to organize our junk drawer. The two small organizers I used (leftover from another project) didn't cut it, and the drawer became a jumbled mess again. Things alternately caught when we opened it or fell behind it and down into the cabinet below. After a friend recently dug through it to find a working pen, I was motivated to reorganize — this time, once and for all.

(Image credit: Kathleen Luttschyn)

Since junk drawers hold so many different things, the only way to keep them organized is to give each item a designated place. That way, it will be harder to revert to throwing in things haphazardly. If your junk drawer is also a disaster, organize it using the five steps below.

1. Empty the drawer and sort everything into piles. Decide what will go back in the drawer, what can be thrown out or recycled, and what really belongs somewhere else in your home.
2. Make a list or take a camera phone picture of what you'll be storing. Then when you go to choose organizers, you can reference it to make sure you have containers for everything.
3. Measure the inside of the drawer and find organizers. If you measure first, you'll save yourself the hassle of buying organizers that don't fit. Alternatively, if you already have unused tins or organizers from other projects, you can use them and save yourself money and a trip to the store. I used a wire cutlery tray and a few miscellaneous organizers (including the two I had already) from The Container Store.
4. As you put things away, try to organize similar items together. For example, store pens in one compartment, tape and glue in another, and batteries in a third. While this might not always be possible (my parking permits and masking tape had to fit in the same spot), it will make things easier to find.
5. Do a monthly mini-cleanout. Make sure takeout menus, broken pens, extra batteries etc aren’t starting to pile up again.