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Sh*t You Shouldn’t Bother Organizing

Photograph via iStock.

This time of year there’s a lot of pressure to purge, to declutter, to pare back, to scale down. And much of this advice (including *cough cough* our own) is solid. It is helpful to hit a sort of national reset button so that the whole U.S. can collectively think about how much crap we’ve accumulated. But there’s also been a real spirit of “toss it all!” floating around lately, thanks to Marie Kondo and her “Konvert” followers, who want you to throw away everything that doesn’t “spark joy.” I can get on board with this idea to some degree, but also firmly believe that mess is a part of life. And that the time we spend bemoaning our earlier decisions to buy yet another roll of wrapping paper or worrying about the state of our underwear drawer is time we could have spent, you know, enjoying something (or heck, even working more). There comes a time when our attempts to streamline our lives become our lives.

So I’ve thrown together (see how I’m not worrying about the organization of this post?) a list of the five places you shouldn’t even bother to organize. First of all, they’re going to fill back up with more junk anyway, and secondly, there are glasses of wine to be drunk and Oscar-nominated movies to watch. So maybe this weekend just spend an hour of your time gazing fondly at the mess you’re not gonna even think about sorting out.

1. The Artwork and Photos on Your Fridge

Sure, you could scan your favorite pieces and pictures and create a special folder on your alphabetized external hard drive. Or instead you could pause once every few months and look back at a photo whose subject is slowly receding further into the past, letting yourself feel nostalgia for that bygone moment. One is efficient, the other is reflective. No shiny aluminum surface will bring you as much joy as your niece’s  baby face long after she’s moved past the toddler stage, or a kiss frozen in time during a photobooth session in LA from 2011.

2. Your Snack Cabinet

Snacks are meant to be enjoyable (we’re looking at you, gluten-free everything), and nothing says fun-sucker like a cabinet that’s so strictly regimented that it feels like a desecration to remove a Little Debbie Swiss Roll. Sure, you don’t want rotten and stale junk taking up valuable munchie space, but you also don’t want refolding the chip bag and appropriately clipping it to become a five minute ritual. Once a week root out the bad stuff and otherwise just make like a Frozen princess and let it go.

3. Your Underwear Drawer

Your underwear drawer is certainly not big enough that multiple items can get lost in there (or is it? because that’s weird…) so why fuss and muss over folding teeny tiny panties into matching shapes? If you have some expensive items, then sure, show them some love. But the glory of underwear is that it doesn’t wrinkle and the glory of your underwear drawer is that it’s one of the few places in your house that is entirely private. Throw’em in, close the drawer, move on with your life. How exactly do you fold a thong, anyway?

4. Your Bookshelf

Actually, think of your bookshelf this way: it’s yours! Do whatever you want with it! As I’ve written about before, if it gives you great pleasure to insert your own faux library lending cards in the back of each hardcopy, have at it. If you revel in the satisfaction of piling novels as high as possible, do it. Don’t cave to the pressure to “style” it any which way, unless you love styling stuff. Our bookshelves are external expressions of our intellect, so just let your intellect have a little fun.

5. That One Crazy Junk Drawer/Cabinet/Closet

There was a period of time when I legitimately feared that opening my hall closet would bring something heavy and concussion-producing down on my head. Every time I opened it (slowly, with a sudden backwards leap once the door creaked) it pained me to think about all the random crap thrown in there. But I didn’t need to California Closet the hell out of it to ease my worries. I just needed to eliminate that fear factor. Everybody’s brain (even neat freak Monica on Friends) needs to know that there’s a place that the ball of baker’s twine, and the Frisbee, and the cat’s toys can be tossed without a second thought. The potentially hazardous items are now relocated and the closet doesn’t terrify my anymore. It’s still jam packed, but that’s city life, right?

Design & Style Editor

Hillary writes about interiors, real estate, arts, and culture. She is the former digital media editor of The New Republic, and her work has also been published in Glamour, The New York Times Book Review, and The Washington Post, among others. You can follow her on Instagram @hillarylouisekelly or on Pinterest @hlkelly.