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  • Writer's pictureShawndra Holmberg, CPO-CD

One Shelf at a Time

a bathroom linen closet BEFORE with towels on various shelves, sheets falling off and items piled everywhere

Whether your organizing project is a closet, a room, or a whole house, focusing on one shelf or one corner at a time can keep you out of project overwhelm.

Here's how to...

Organize your linen closet one shelf at a time.

Decide what goes on this shelf. We're putting towels here. Bath towels, hand towels, wash clothes, bath mats and the like.

Clear everything off the shelf

Clear the shelf. Remove everything.

  • Have a box ready to hold any items that don't belong in the closet. After you've finished organizing this shelf, you can return them to their rightful homes.

  • Anything that belongs in the closet, but isn't a towel and won't go on this shelf, goes on a different shelf. Don't worry. Just place it, toss it, shove it in. You'll do that shelf next time.

  • Stage the towels some place where you can sort through them. This is a short-term location since you'll be putting the keepers back on the shelf today.

Gather & Sort your towels -  Keep your best & let go of the rest

Pull out all the towels from the closet. Search for other towels throughout the house. Are there any clean ones in the laundry room? Any in baskets in the bedroom? Gather all your towels in one location for the next step.

Sort through your towels. But before you sort, decide how many bath towels you really need. Two or three per person? Four if you absolutely have to and you have the space? What is enough but not too many for you? Let go of the towels that are torn, frayed, or stained. Don't surround yourself with anything less than your best. Do not think up catastrophes that might require 20+ towels. All your pipes in the house will not burst at one time. If they do, towels will be the least of your worries. It's okay to have a few towels to dry the dog or clean up a mess, but you won't need the other eighteen.

Organize the towels you're keeping. Fold and stack or role the towels but keep it simple and keep maintenance efforts in mind. Putting away the clean towels need to be easy and quick. If you have to pick up the hand towels to put the bath towels away, you're less likely to maintain your system. We used shelf dividers to keep the contents from falling over and mixing, but we need more.

This organizing project was to be one shelf at a time, but we had about 15 minutes left and so quickly went through the next shelf and focused on tossing expired medicine and old makeup. The intention was not to organize but to decrease the amount of unused and old stuff cluttering up the shelf.

Check out tips for when to toss and what to do with Expired Medication.

Focus: ONE shelf at a time - save the rest for another day

When you organize one shelf and one drawer at a time, you will make progress. If you wait until you have the time and energy to do the whole room, you may wait a long time. So start now and start small. Organize a drawer, a shelf or a box at a time; and remember to stand back and enjoy your accomplishment. Good Job!


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