How To Organize A Bookcase

Bookcases can be found in most homes and offices.  They are usually jam packed with books, binders and papers like in the above photo.  But if given a little TLC, bookcases can become not only a decorative accessory but one that adds much needed organizational space to an office.  I have included before and after pictures above for you to see the transformation that I did in my work as a professional organizer.  Below, you can see a picture of a bookcase that I have in my own home that I use every single day.  I am a mother of three and I also run several businesses out of my home.  So if you have a bookcase that is much neglected and are wondering where to start, let me take you through the process.
  1. Clear off each shelf.
  2. Wipe down each shelf as you empty it.
  3. Look at each item:
    • Look for duplicates.
    • Discard any out of date materials.
    • Take out anything that has a home somewhere else.
    • Discard anything that just is not useful anymore.
    • Take out anything that you know you will not ever look at again.
    • If you have not used an item in over a year, maybe now is the time to get rid of it.
  4. Group like items together:
    • For example it you have taken classes and became certified in a certain area, keep all of those materials together.
    • For books, maybe all the same subject mater go together.  For example, if you are a therapist, maybe all books having to do with autism go together.  If you are an English teacher, maybe all your books on poetry are grouped together.
  5. Now look at your shelf space:
    • Put items all like items together on one shelf.  In the picture below I have placed all of my books on organizing on one shelf.
    • If they are over sized you may need to either lay them on their side or adjust the shelf height.
    • If you have several subjects that can fit on one shelf, try to break the topics up by a picture, nick knack or a bookend.
  6. Can you add any of your personality on the shelf:
    • Think about placing  some family photos or a plant.
    • In the picture below I have added serving pieces that are easy to store and display on a bookcase instead of being shoved in a closet.
    • You want to break it up so it is not all books and 3 ring binders.
    • Can you put anything in a magazine file?
      • Magazine files are not boring plastic and cardboard anymore.  I have one on a shelf in the picture below that is covered in a tan fabric.  You would never know what it is full of, but I do.  I have my phone book and phone directories for my kids located in that magazine file.  Stop by an office supply store to see the many options that they have, you might be surprised at what you find.
    • Can you use baskets to hold anything?
      • In the picture below I have placed my collection of organizing books all in a basket.When I need to research a project, I know that all of my books are in this basket.
      • Also in the picture below I have a basket on the top shelf that holds my bills that need to be paid.  Nobody know what is in that basket unless they were to pull it off the shelf.  On the side of the bookcase notice that I have more baskets.  These baskets house other items, such as file folders that I use on a monthly basis.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found here.  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at