Why Cleaning Out Your Junk Drawer Might Cause Some Tears

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Last week we talked about cleaning out the ole junk drawer, and I was surprised by the response. Victory messages of carloads of stuff on the way to the recycling center. A funny text about renting a dumpster. One reader told me she shed tears after reorganizing her bathroom closet because she realized it’d been years since she’d taken the time to carefully fold and arrange her linens the way she used to.

Who knew there was a junk drawer crisis at hand?  But seriously, why did last week’s column resonate so much? Why does it feel so fulfilling to do such a simple task? Here’s why. An organized life or “junk drawer” symbolizes something very important that most high-performers crave but often don’t have. Control.

It means you’ve tamed the chaos, created some margin and… truly got your sh*t together.

**And if one of my readers cried while organizing her linen closet, you know this goes deeper than a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Let’s be honest, most high-performers keep up appearances. Our homes are clean, our clothes are snappy and our hair’s in place. But open a closet or look under the bed? That’s where we’ve haphazardly crammed stuff five minutes before the company arrived.

On the flip side, when we create the time and space to deep clean a junk drawer or purse, it means we have the margin to actually be present and take care of ourselves on a deep level. It symbolizes bandwidth. This, my friend, is a sacred place – where we tend to the private and often unseen spaces of our lives.

If this is resonating with you again, let’s peel back the layers.

  1. Why are you “too busy” to take care of your unseen, private world?

  2. Do you have to be this busy? Sometimes the answer is yes, especially if you’re juggling unique family dynamics or financial insecurity. But often the answer is no.

    1. As a filter, ask yourself how much of your busy life is driven by people pleasing or societal pressure?

    2. Be honest and make a commitment to slow down and examine all incoming requests in order to find some hidden margin.

  3. Now, how would your life change if you said “yes” to protecting some of your time daily in order to focus on what you need? Newsflash, you don’t need to earn the right to have peaceful and organized life.

That said… let’s hop in the time machine shall we? Imagine a life in which you:

  • Know where the Ibuprofen is so you don’t buy a bottle every time you get a headache

  • Have meals planned for the week based on the contents of your pantry and freezer

  • Make complete stops at stop signs

  • Take the long (pretty) route to work, just because you like the views

Sounds pretty reasonable, right? It should. You’re envisioning a life with margin. A life that operates from a space of rest and peace. One that is neatly folded and put away.

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