How to Organize... when you weren't planning to!

So, you went into your junk drawer to grab a set of spare keys for your mother. You found birthday candles, 7 expired coupons, and that gift card you needed last month. Soon enough, you've emptied the entire contents of the drawer onto the counter and you're going through everything, trying to get rid of the junk lurking beneath the surface. You certainly didn't intend to organize the junk drawer- you were only looking for a key! Before you know it, you've taken everything out and won't rest until you've put everything back in its place.

If you're anything like me, this happens all. the. time. I didn't want to clean out the junk drawer, but somehow I'm elbows deep in junk. When you don't plan to organize, it can be hard to get the project done, and done right. Here are some suggestions to finish up the task you didn't mean to start!

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1. Start a shopping list. This is oh-so-important. As you go along, you'll say, "Wow I wish I had a small box for xyz." By the end of your purge, you'll forget what you needed- and probably be ready to just flop on the couch in exhaustion and forget all about that J-U-N-K drawer. I recommend quickly jotting down what you want/need to get this space organized once-and-for-all as you go along. This way, you can hop on Amazon or head to the store when you're finished and know exactly what you need. 

2.  Grab a ruler. Creating a list is great, but having measurements for the items on your list is just as important. Otherwise, you'll end up with a box that just about fits, but doesn't. I never (always) do this.

3. Be descriptive. When you set out to purchase the items on your list, you may be left wondering what they're for. Why did I need 3 over-the-door organizers again?! When you're making your list, write down what you plan to put in each box, how many you need, or what color you want it to be. It's better to have more information than not enough when you go shopping to avoid making another trip- and buying more junk you didn't need but had to have.

4. Go dumpster diving. When you've started a project you didn't intend to, sometimes you have to improvise. Grab a cardboard box, shipping envelope, yogurt container, etc. These can be a great and affordable way to corral your items, even just temporarily. Don't worry about decoupaging your container right now. That's a task for another day!

5.  Think outside the (pretty) box. Sure, we all want our drawers and cabinets to look as gorgeous as they do in magazines. But sometimes, making it organized doesn't necessarily mean it's picture-worthy. Don't worry about having expensive containers or purchasing all new boxes for them to match perfectly. Make use of what you have. As long as you can get in and out without a headache, you're golden!

6. Label everything. Sometimes, labeling can be overkill- no need to label your label maker (unless you want to!). As a rule of thumb, anything you can't see should definitely be labeled. This prevents having to open all those pretty boxes to find what you need. Think of it this way- if you can't remember where it goes, there's a good chance it will end up somewhere else (probably in a pile).  So, invest in a label maker! I have this one and love it.

7.  Keep a few extra containers on hand. Notice I said a few containers- don't hoard them! When I'm at a store and see something I love for organization, I might grab one even if I don't know the perfect size or what will go in it. As you're re-organizing, it's great to have at least a few options for where to put your items. If the containers don't end up working, no big deal. You can always return them or try them in another room.  

8. Don't stop halfway. This one is super important- don't make what was a hidden nightmare a public menace. Put as much away as possible. For everything left, make sure you either put it in its new home or throw it away. I'm sure your husband/wife/cat won't be pleased when he/she discovers your brand-new tabletop landfill. And opening the drawer to show them how neat it is when there's a new pile of junk in plain sight won't impress them. Trust me on this one.

Want more great tips on how to be an organizing superstar? Be sure to follow my organization board on Pinterest!

I hope you found these suggestions to be helpful!  What are your tips for impromptu organizing?

Related: How to Organize on a Dime