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Taming the Junk Drawer: DIY Card Files

Taming the Junk Drawer: DIY Card Files

Is the junk drawer in your home a venerable catch-all storage bin? After reading this post, I went on a clutter-clearing mission. Possessing the awareness of controlling the clutter in your home can be mind-clearing. It is not rocket science. Doing something about it is. Metropolitan Home magazine editor, Donna Warner makes decluttering sound simple, “Clutter management 101 goes like this: Arrange your possessions into three piles: keep, give away/sell and throw away.”

OK, I have no problems donating my clothes and can easily toss useless household items, but I stop dead in my tracks every time I open the kitchen junk drawer. Totally stymied. What should I do with all of those business and greeting cards? I’ve been stashing them away for years. Some are sentimental, and some I’m holding on to (for dear life).

Apartment Therapy’s-The Eight Step Home Cure by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan defines the problem, “Despite good intentions, Americans…have created new diseases such as clutter, disposophobia (the fear of letting go of things)…”

Oh no, a disease. Let’s add emotional clutter to the list while we’re at it. What to do about that messy drawer? I figured if I can get the business cards filed in an organized manner and the greeting cards repurposed, the rummaging through the junk drawer would end. I’ll be clutter disease-free (almost).

Here’s the solution I came up with: Remember Rolodexes? Mostly, they have been replaced by slicker technology such as Blackberry’s and IPhones. Although my computer and cell phone have handy address books, I decided to hold onto the business cards and file them alphabetically in a box using the greeting cards as dividers. This method could be used with different size boxes to organize take-out menus, receipts, greeting cards, announcements, etc.

What you need:

• Box – I had a 6” square bamboo box purchased for $4.99 at Homegoods

• Used greeting cards

• Business cards

• Ruler

• Scissors

• Marker

• Packing label

What to do:

1. Measure the width and height of the inside of the box. Mine measured 5×2 ¼.

2. Make a divider by cutting a card to the desired size. Measure and cut a tab on top for the letters. Stagger the tabs on top to make it easier to see the letters. Make 12 dividers.

3. Measure and cut the white packing label and adhere over the tabs.

4. Write the letters onto the tabs.

Note: Save the leftover card scraps for gift tags.

Clutter diseases diverted…it was all in the cards. What’s going on in your junk drawer?

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.


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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.


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7:46AM PST on Jan 28, 2014

Business cards can be thrown into a basket and cleaned out every twenty years.

1:43AM PST on Mar 7, 2013

Thanks - nice idea. I've started adding sentimental papers to my journal - I find it helps me decide which are really important to me - plus I get to see them more than when I piled them into my filing cabinet!

7:22AM PDT on Oct 24, 2011


11:24AM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

Good idea, thanks Ronnie!

10:47AM PDT on Aug 15, 2010

Good tips.

10:59PM PDT on May 20, 2010

tame a junk drawer?

7:53AM PDT on May 17, 2010

helpful! thanks.

5:55AM PDT on May 17, 2010

good thoughts

1:38AM PDT on May 17, 2010


4:06PM PDT on Apr 2, 2009

Boy, I wish all I had to deal with was business cards - I have a drawer full of tools (hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, etc) plus many kinds of tape & glue, box cutters, scrapers, picture hangers, kitty brush/flea comb, rubber bands, clips, twisty & zip ties, packets of hot sauce & cut flower preservative, seeds, and corks. Truly miscellaneous stuff that has no other place to live. Yes, I could put the tools in a toolbox, but where would I put the toolbox? They are in the kitchen drawer so I don't HAVE to go to the garage & go through the BIG toolbox ever time I need a pair of pliers.
BTW - I have a much simpler filing solution for my business cards - an empty check box - you know, the kind the printing company sends your books of checks to you in. The business cards fit sideways perfectly & it holds a couple hundred of them. ;-)

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