I've been singing the praises of junk drawers for a long time. If you are like me, and the theory of an uncluttered home appeals to you a great deal but the practice of it mostly eludes you, the junk drawer is a huge boon: finally, a place where you're allowed to stash all that stuff that clutters up the countertops and doesn't really have a place to go, so you can not think about it anymore.
So in my new apartment, I planned for a junk drawer, and also a junk cabinet, and a junk shelf, but still — stuff had a tendency to pile up. Things that didn't go in the junk drawer, things like packages I was going to mail and shoes I was going to get repaired and that umbrella I was going to return to my friend. The junk drawer on its own wasn't cutting it. I needed something else.
I needed something like a railway platform for stuff, a sort of holding pen for things on their way in or out of my house. Carrie, in the brilliant post she wrote about 10 habits every small space dweller should adopt, advocates taking returns back to the store as quickly as possible, so they don't clutter up your tiny place. Which is a great idea, but, well, sometimes that doesn't always happen. And where do you put those things in the meantime? The only thing worse than the self-loathing you feel about not having taken those shoes with the broken strap to the cobbler is the visual disaster of them cluttering up your home. That stuff needs a place to go, so I decided to create one.
I decided to call my junk drawer 2.0/stuff transit terminal my in/out box, for lack of a more creative name. Here are some things that can go in your in/out box*:
- Packages that need to be mailed
- Things you bought but need to return to the store
- Things you need to return to your friend the next time you see them
- Things you got for free and aren't sure whether you want to keep or not
- Items that have to be taken to a particular place for recycling
- Things that need to be repaired
Pretty much anything that's "in transit" and doesn't have a home. You can even incorporate your in/out box into your current landing strip. (This is a bit different from the outbox for the Cure in that it's not just for stuff that you're planning on getting rid of, but feel free to put that stuff in there, too.)
I don't really have an entryway to speak of (I don't really have any rooms to speak of, since I live in a studio), so my in/out box is a big basket that lives under the end table closest to the door. I've just started doing this but already my house feels a little bit neater — and it's nearly effortless, so what's not to like?
*A criticism that could be made of this plan is that, once those these things are all contained in a basket or box, they will stay in said basket or box forever, instead of moving on to their final destinations. Which is valid, but things in my house tend to take a while to get where they're going anyway, so they might as well not be cluttering up my space the whole time.
How does this sound to you? Do you do this (or something similar) already? Let us know in the comments...