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Organizing In Uncertain, Stressful Times 

More than three months ago, cities and states began to lock down to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic that has swept the country has changed so many aspects of our lives, from how we greet one another—at a safe distance and with waves instead of hugs—to how we work and learn. 

In my spring newsletter, I noted that many people felt anxious, scattered and unfocused. That’s still true—and perhaps even more so than in March. We have more practice at social distancing and other measures to protect ourselves and others, but this “new normal” still feels anything but normal.  

As we move into the long, sunny days of summer, I’m anticipating juicy watermelon, sweet corn and bike rides on the Bay Trail. But I’m missing gatherings with friends and hands-on work with my wonderful organizing clients, who inspire me with their focus and enthusiasm.  

If you are struggling to muster the energy to tackle an organizing project or berating yourself for not doing “more” during these times, please be gentle with yourself. Perhaps you have children clamoring for attention or feel the stress of trying to focus on work amid so many distractions. May be you’re caring for someone who is ill, or you’re worried about family and friends.  

I know there will be people who urge you to be Doing Something To Keep Busy. Fine. Hang a birdfeeder. Bake a sinfully rich chocolate cake. Read “War & Peace.”  

Take on an organizing project only if you feel mentally ready to make decisions and clear headedly evaluate the items you’re organizing. Not there yet? That’s totally OK.   

Your stuff will wait for you. 

Three Sheets to the Wind 

Reader Question: “What’s the best way to organize a linen closet?” 

The answer depends what you feel is the “right” number of sheets, towels, etc. for your household. It’s probably fewer than you’d think, and it’s definitely not so many that you fill every square inch of space in your linen closet. 

Advice is all over the board. Registries, being in the business of urging people to acquire goods, will urge you to buy more. This one suggests that newlyweds have six bath towels, six hand towels and six washcloths, plus two or three sets of sheets.  

An interior designer writing for a luxury linens website recommends building “the perfect towel inventory” by stocking for each adult four bath towels and two hand towels per week and two washcloths per day. Two washcloths a day? Really? I’m hoping she will also suggest someone to do your laundry. 

I think you will do just fine with far fewer. So does Rose Lounsbury, a self-proclaimed minimalist and mom of triplets who gave a TEDx Dayton talk called “How Many Towels Do You Need?” (Here’s the section that has her answer.)  

When I organize linen closets, I send towels and sheets that are frayed, faded or worn out to the family rag bag or set them aside for animal shelters, which use them for bedding and cleaning. I also weed out items that are no longer part of a set or color theme. 

I know some people advise storing sets of sheets in a pillowcase. I’m not a fan because this wastes time and effort. You must wrestle the folded sheets into the pillowcase to store them, and you have to jiggle them out later.  

It’s easier to simply store the set together. Fold the sheets and pillowcases. Place the folded fitted sheet and pillowcases on half of the flat sheet, and then fold the other half of the flat sheet over the top, like you’re making a quesadilla.  This method creates a convenient bundle that fits neatly on your shelf. 

Have an organizing question or need a referral to a resource? I’m happy to help. Email me at or catch me on Twitter @junedbell. 
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