23 January 2014

The craft drawer chaos spiral (comes to an end!)

I’m back today with more organizaaaatioooonnn! (Did you say that in an Oprah voice in your head? Because it’s totally in an Oprah voice in mine.)

This time, I’m giving you the stink-eye, craft drawer. This year, when I needed a few little crafting items for some holiday projects – a mini-hole punch, a paper cutter, a ruler – I nearly had an aneurysm trying to find them in my craft drawer. I knew they were in there, but I had to take practically everything else out just to find them. The drawer always seems to fall victim to what I’m christening the Downward Spiral of Chaos: when I can’t find something, I upend everything else in the drawer to find it. Then the next time, I can’t find something else because it was shoved aside the last time. Sound familiar?

You can always spot a Downward Spiral of Chaos, if you know what to look for. It’s that area that you have to reorganize constantly, even when you’re not adding or removing any items. In other words, just by using the existing items in the drawer, you rearrange it into an enormous mess. I even have a recorded history of the craft drawer’s Downward Spiral of Chaos! I mention trying to clean it out here in this post, from 2011. TWENTY ELEVEN. That’s a long time to be frustrated about a stupid drawer!

Clearly, the drawer got a substantial clean out (which is good, because it was gross), but I didn’t really do much about organization. I just put everything back in the drawer and pretended I wasn’t dealing with a Downward Chaos Spiral. Sure enough, it devolved into a crazy mess right away.

And then we moved. I kept all my craft supplies in a dresser drawer in the guest room in the old house, but now, thanks to weensy closets, I actually need to use the dresser for clothes. So, the craft drawer lives in the foyer cabinetry.

When we moved in, I took only the time to dump the contents of the craft drawer in the craft drawer’s new location. And then I walked away. And then swore at myself every time I needed something from the craft drawer. But it’s time to solve the traveling Downward Chaos Spiral craft drawer issue, once and for all!

Let’s look at where it started out, in its most recent chaotic incarnation.

Doesn’t seem quite that bad? That’s because you’re only seeing the top layer.

Yup, that’s the same drawer. That’s how crazy it was. Multiple layers of chaos!

First thing I needed to do was get rid of unneeded items. That sounds simple enough, but I swear, I’m always finding junk I’ve been pushing aside for months (years?) that belongs in the trash. In this case, it was a lot of packaging:

I mean... price tags are never a fancy look.

But there was also some crafting miscellany that was a bit harder to part with. Like the scraps of lace that I saved from making my own wedding veil... plus the receipt from the purchase of lace and tulle.

To make my veil, I cut a piece of lace trim in half, and it seemed wasteful to just throw out the other half at the time. But years later... years later, I can see that the other half is really not good for anything. I mean, obviously: I cut the best part off for my veil, duh. So while those lace scraps remind me of a nice wedding memory, there are totally better ways to recall those fun times without trash cluttering my drawers. And anyway, if I needed more lace... it will cost $2.18. I think I can cover that. Common sense over sentiment!

Once I decided what to throw out, it was time to decide how to keep everything else. To break the desperate cycle of displacing items while looking for others, I invested in a few of these.

HomeGoods (or Marshall’s, or TJ Maxx) is becoming my favorite spot to score these organization-divider-thingies. That’s where I found the ones I used to organize both my jewelry and sock drawer. They’re usually pretty cheap (I think I paid $5 apiece for these) and generally pretty stylish – these are even fabric covered!

But the best ringing endorsement is this: months later, the jewelry and sock systems are still working. They even accommodated a few new pieces of jewelry and a few pairs of socks that I received for Christmas! So these drawer dividers are excellent for putting the kibosh on Chaos Spirals!

With the dividers in place, I was able to put everything back in an orderly fashion:

Glues with glues, stamps with stamps, ribbon with ribbon, punches with punches. I mean... this is not innovative genius-level organization. It doesn’t take much to make a vast improvement!

The only downside is that I still have an extra layer. My giant paper cutter has to rest on top, so it really looks like this:

I debated storing it at the bottom, or elsewhere in an entirely different drawer... but I use it too often, and the habit of finding it in the craft drawer is just too strong! So, I’ll leave it on top and be happy about the rest.

But can you guess the best part of defeating the craft drawer chaos spiral? Sure, it took less than half an hour, it cost about ten bucks, it makes me SUPER happy... but the best part is re-discovering all my craft supplies I’d forgotten about! Now I can just open the drawer not to find what I already wanted, but just to look in for project inspiration!

How’s your new year organization going? I’m just getting started over here!


Rachel C said...

I am stealing your "Downward Spiral of Chaos" phrase. Unfortunately for me, instead of a DSoC drawer, I have an entire room. Our spare bedroom just can't stay clean! I know it's because I've not put the time into sorting, purging and organizing everything.

Sarah said...

@Rachel, I know exactly what you mean! Our guest room in the old house AND the office were both downward spirals of chaos for YEARS. And as horribly grating as the phrase "organizational system" is, they really DO fix the issue!