Lessons on Simplifying from My Kitchen Drawer

The ‘fantasy me’ dreams of having closets and drawers with everything neatly organized in little containers and compartments. The real me has figured out that it doesn’t work out quite like that. For those of you who are naturally organized, that may work. But for the rest of us that have to work at it, it probably won’t.

I like nothing better than spending an entire day sorting through a closet and getting it beautifully organized. But I’ve learned that maintaining it is what is difficult for me.

Learning to let go of the perfect system has been key to implementing something and making it stick.

When my system is too complicated, I won’t stick to it.

While the idea of a drawer that has a lot of little containers for each different item sounds good, the truth is, that I won’t take the time to keep up with that. Also, I’ve learned that while something may be organized, it could still mean that my organization is simply an excuse to keep stuff that I don’t need.

After many experiences of finding the perfect system, only to find myself a couple of months later back in a state of disorganization, I have realized that simplifying things works better for me. In the case of my drawer, getting rid of items that were rarely, if ever, used was a much better idea than just having it beautifully organized.

When the system is too complicated, it is harder for others to help.

If I have to constantly tell my husband, or a guest helping me in the kitchen, exactly where to put the item (in the 2nd drawer, the 2nd container from the right, please), it has become too complicated for easy use. I don’t want to have to go back and rearrange things because it was “in the wrong spot.” That is spending extra time on something that is not that important to me.

It is also important for me that my children learn independence, so having a simple system is extremely important. I want my kids to be able to help in the kitchen as well. Simplifying is what has helped me streamline things and still be able to maintain it for the long haul. If I can maintain it, then I know it is working.

(You know you are friends when I show you my drawers!)

No one is going to open up my kitchen drawer and ooh and aah over how organized I am. But that isn’t my goal. I have gotten rid of everything except what I actually use on a regular bases. Since there is so much less, it is easy to see and grab what I need. When I am putting away dishes I just throw it in the drawer. Even though it isn’t beautifully lined up, I am not digging through a drawer full of stuff, trying to find the one item I need.

If you are not sure what items you do or don’t use, I recommend putting the utensils you are unsure about in a box in a closet or garage. Put a reminder on your calendar for three months from now to go through that box. If you haven’t had to get anything out in that time, chances are you don’t really need it.

I did this last year before our move. I knew I was going to sell things in a garage sale shortly before the move, so several months prior to that I filled a box of things I wasn’t sure I was using. It turns out that I only went and retrieved one item. The other things went in the garage sale. Either I never used them, or easily found something else to substitute for it. Now, over a year later, I have never missed a thing. In case you are wondering, I do have another drawer with knives and a jar with spoons and spatulas. Those too have been pared down to the bare minimum that I actually use all the time.

If you are not a naturally organized person, don’t stress about a perfect organizing system. De-clutter and simplify and it will be much easier to maintain.

Are there items in your kitchen drawers that you aren’t using and are taking up space? Go through them this week and see what you can clear out! Leave a comment and tell us about it!


  1. Awesome, I’m going to try and do this today! I like the real-life honesty that some of us (most of us?) just won’t maintain perfectly organized systems. I see this working for me.

  2. I am in the midst of slowly trying to pare down and simplify every room of my small house that has no garage, no attic and no basement. I have also been thinking more lately (as you obviously have for quite some time) about how complicated we can make life sometimes, and how much stuff we think we need. I am realizing that my kids play more with (and appreciate more) the toys they have when they have fewer toys. We enjoy more wearing the clothes we DO have when we have fewer clothes (that henceforth can be a little nicer since we are buying/keeping fewer). The kids can help more easily when things are more simple. The list could go on. Seeing the picture of your drawer has inspired me to pare down in my kitchen, too! I’ll let you know tomorrow how many things I pulled out of the drawers and cabinets :). Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us the fruit of your concerted efforts to manage your home with an eternal perspective!

    • Yes, yes, yes! Since we have moved to living this way, I often tell Brian, even if we have money and more space some day, I want to keep living simply. Thanks for your comment, and yes, please let me know how the purging goes!

  3. Robin Griffin says:

    That is such a simple, but fantastic suggestion! Thanks for sharing Johanna!!

  4. Julie Mad-Bondo says:

    I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time now. I will do it this week! Thanks for the reminder.


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