On the importance of junk drawers

March 18, 2015 life 2 min read

A place for everything and everything in its place.

Things without places are hard to find. Left to lay in some indeterminate place when we are done using them, they even get designated as misplaced—implying that they had a place to begin with.

Places that don’t have things are purposeless voids. They are unused capacity in a resource-constrained world. A place’s thing may be a physical thing—such as a gadget or a gizmo—or it may be an abstract thing—such as an expression of art or emotion or identity—or it may be the absence of a thing—such as an empty space where experiences can be had and ideas exchanged. A place’s thing is its purpose, it’s justification for continued existence.

A junk drawer is a special place. It keeps misfits from encroaching on something else’s place. It creates a place of shelter for the things that don’t belong but still have value. When enough similar things are assembled within its confines, a junk drawer then realizes its greatest potential and it becomes clear that some of these things are similar and warrant their own place.

Create junk drawers; for things, for ideas, for time, for relationships. Make space for things that don’t fit in. Let all the things that don’t belong gather in one place. You may be surprised at what emerges to demand its own place.

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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.