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April 7, 2024 5 mins

How an 'other' category makes organization possible

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio. Good Morning,
This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast. Today's
tip is to create an other category. Doing so can
make organizing a lot simpler and faster. My family moved

earlier this year, and I spent weeks unpacking. The kitchen
was particularly tedious, and only the rather urgent need to
find my pots and pans kept me going. I spend
a lot of time deliberating over questions like whether a
vegetable peeler belongs in the knife drawer or the utensils
drawer or somewhere else, and where to store napkin rings,

which we don't really use but have, and where to
put various things that aren't actually kitchen items but that
you sometimes need while you're in the kitchen. But most
flummoxing was all the random stuff that was in our
kitchen boxes. When you live in a house for a decade,
a lot of stuff winds up in drawers and in

piles in your kitchen, and so a box labeled kitchen
might very well have small toys and other random things
like a broken cup shaped like a dinosaur that can't
actually be used, but can't be thrown away, lest the
child with an affinity for it see it in the trash.

What made unpacking possible was creating a junk drawer. And
I don't even mean what most people think of as
a kitchen junk drawer, which might have pencils, a scissors,
rubber bands, spare change, and other such small items. I
have a drawer for those. Let's call that junk drawer
number one. I am talking the truly random stuff I

was pulling out of boxes. I couldn't really put it
back in the boxes, because then it would block other
stuff from coming out of the boxes, or I would
still have boxes sitting there in my eating space. So
I created an other drawer, we could call it junk
drawer number two, for anything that didn't have a clear

and appropriate home anywhere. Suddenly, the question where does this go?
Became a lot less stressful because I could answer myself
or a younger helper by saying, I don't know, so
put it in that bottom drawer over there. Once I
had a drawer for this big category of other unpacking

went more quickly. I could efficiently get the rest of
the kitchen a lot less junkie. Creating an other category
can be helpful in many contexts when we designate a
spot where anything can go everywhere else can be a
lot more orderly. Another category is a great technique when

organizing physical spaces, especially areas like kitchens, offices, and kids
rooms where there is a fair amount of stuff that
defies classification. An other category can be useful in a
household budget too. COVID tests parking tickets, the impulse purchased
at a charity auction. If you know where those items

belong in your budget, great, If not, put them in
other it's a junk drawer. Longtime listeners will have heard
my encouragement to batch the little things. That means to
designate a time each week for doing all the various
tasks that need to be done but don't fit neatly
somewhere else in your schedule. Batching little things is the

time equivalent of a junk drawer or an other category.
I pay bills, respond to invitations and fill out forms
in one fell swoop on Friday afternoons. So the next
time you are spending way too much time and mental
energy deliberating about how to categorize something, embrace the genius

of the junk drawer. The paradox is that by creating
one seemingly unorganized space, everything else can be more orderly,
certainly more orderly and in less time than if you
insisted on absolutely everything having a category or place. We

all need junk drawers in our lives. It is really
the best way to be workably organized in the meantime.
This is Laura. Thanks for listening, and here's to making
the most of our time. Hey, everybody, I'd love to

hear from you. You can send me your tips, your questions,
or anything else. Just connect with me on Twitter, Facebook
and Instagram at Before Breakfast pod that's b E the
number four, then Breakfast p o D. You can also
shoot me an email at Before Breakfast Podcasts at iHeartMedia

dot com. That Before Breakfast is spelled out with all
the letters. Thanks so much. Should I look forward to
staying in touch. Before Breakfast is a production of iHeartRadio.
For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,

or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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