Week 3 – Bed, Bath, and Beyond: Linens, Cosmetics, HABA, Medicine, etc. 

It’s Week 3 of the 2022 Clever Girl Organizing Challenge! We’re leaving the kitchen (unless your medicines live in there, in which case, we’re *mostly* leaving the kitchen) and heading into the bathroom area and anywhere items like these are stored. You might have some of this in a bathroom, or a linen closet, or in your bedside table drawer or on top of your dresser. If it’s in the business of “HABA” – Health and Beauty Aids – we’re getting it done this week!

We’re also going to be getting into your linens — sheets, towels, blankets, etc. I know; it’s a lot to put the soft goods in with this other stuff all in one week, but I decided that (a) a lot of Returning Challengers only have some “tune ups” in these spaces and (b) the First Time Challengers are typically able to make deep strides in each of these areas and since we’re heading into a BREAK week next week (no new assignments) it can spill a little bit longer if it needs to. 

But I want to start this week to say how AMAZING I think the group has been doing in the first 2 weeks! Not only impressive #banda photos, but the self-awareness, reflection, experimentation, willingness to get a little uncomfortable with thoughts about attachment to stuff… the conversations in the Facebook Group have been so encouraging! If you haven’t caught up with the “Live with Kathy” Facebook videos, I recommend you do that, too. That’s where I’m raising some of the deeper concepts that surround our relationship to stuff and our goals for letting go. 

This week’s “WHY IS THIS SO HARD” section talks about WASTE; be sure to check it out and let me know your thoughts on this one. And check out my *FUN* call to action in the FINAL THOUGHTS section!

Don’t forget the two guidelines I’d love for you to keep in mind before you start your work:

1) Have the tools you need before you get started — trash bags, recycling, donate box, and “goes somewhere else” box (so you can set things aside and keep going, not be tempted to return things to a different space while you’re working).

2) Keep up on that BEFORE and AFTER picture taking! I see people saying “Shoot! I forgot to take a before picture” and then they know they’re missing out on expressing to everyone just how tremendous their transformation was. 🙂  If you haven’t yet posted pictures in the Facebook Group, this is the last week to start and still potentially get to that 9 of 11 weeks and a free 1:1 one-hour virtual session with me after we’re done!


So what are the categories and spaces you might consider this week to tackle? Remember, you don’t need to do ALL of this! I want to give you ideas of where your time might be best spent, based on YOUR needs in YOUR space. Think about what you have, what you know you haven’t looked at in a while or what you know causes some strain on your storage systems. Most importantly, think of who you are, your current and foreseeable lifestyle, and what items just don’t align with that any more (if they ever did)!

What are some examples of these categories? 

  • TOILETRIES: shampoo, conditioner, soap, cleansers, deodorant, hair products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, hair supplies (brushes, bows, barrettes, combs, scrunchies, bands, etc.), sunscreen, razors and shaving supplies, feminine products, etc. 
  • MEDICINE: prescriptions, over the counters, pain relief, cold/cough supplies, etc.
  • FIRST AIDbandages, gauze, tape, ointments, splints, wraps, braces, sprays, etc.
  • COSMETICS: makeup, masks, cleansing products, tools and brushes, nail polish and remover, perfume, etc. 
  • OTHER STUFF: things with plugs (hair dryers, curling irons, straightening irons, razors, etc.), bath toys, cleaning products, decor, reading material, etc.

Think about these different categories separately, if that works best for you. It can be easy to work on one or two, then put the project aside until another day in the week and pick up from there. 

A few notes about each category:

  • Toiletries – this category is a combination of things that may not be good anymore, things you just don’t use anymore, and that abundance of hotel conditioners that you keep thinking you’ll need and never seem to. Be sure to check with other members of the house and not just assume that *somebody* must be still using them! (PS- unopened toiletries are often accepted by food pantries and shelters including The Food Drive if you’re local to Melrose).
  • Cosmetics – We can manage to collect some over the years, and just forget about them, or move past their style. Or, ahem, in a pandemic we’re just not wearing them as much. That doesn’t even take into consideration the free samples we’ve gotten and just seem to stash because we think we might be inspired one day to try them (we haven’t). Cosmetics have a shorter shelf life thank you may think (See Stuff To Know for more) and putting items on your face, near your eyes or mouth may warrant more attention than they’re getting now. 
  • First Aid Supplies – some things will always make sense to have on hand, but you also want to make sure you if you have anything that has an expiration date that you can check to see if it’s still good. One way this category can get out of hand is with medical devices like braces, slings, ace bandages, splints, etc. – items you’ve collected over injuries from the past, and you think “this will be helpful if it happens again.” Think about the likelihood of that happening, and how much space you want to give away to this “just in case” category. 
  • Medicine – are things expired? Medicine that is expired may not be bad for you, but more importantly, they may not DO for you want you want them to do. (see Stuff to Know for more info). Also research how to dispose of prescription drugs in your community. (I can help you research!)
  • Cleaning Supplies – are these the ones you’re using today? Or are there some you’ve stopped using and moved on to a newer version of a product that does the same job? 
  • Bath Toys – If you’re still in bath toy years, do you have more than just the go-to favorites in the tub? Are there some that just don’t get used and can sail away? 

If your focus is going to be on Linens this week, What are some examples of these categories? 

  • BED: sheets, blankets, quilts/comforters, pillow cases, mattress pads, dust ruffles, extra pillows
  • BATH: bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, bathmats, bathroom rugs, beach towels
  • DININGDish towels, table cloths, runners, placemats, cloth napkins
  • WINDOWS: curtains, drapes, etc. 

I can tell you right now, the big questions to discuss in the Facebook Group are:

How many towels or sheet sets or spare blankets should I have?” and

Are any of your kids using top sheets?” (This was the surprise hot topic of the 2021 Challenge!) 

In general, your dive here will be around how much you need, what condition are your current linens in, and organizing your “keeps” in a way that is easy to find what you need, when you need it (no more mystery-sized sheet sets!).

FOR ALL THE CATEGORIES: Go through each category and make some decisions about what REALLY needs to go back into the space. While I said above that you don’t need to give your whole bathroom a deep cleaning in this Challenge, you do want to wipe down the containers and surfaces you’ve been storing these items in and on. These shelves and containers can be a sticky mess, too. There’s no doubt if there was a spill or a leak at some point, it left behind a residual trace. 

Remember the  EEEEZ Method if you need a plan of attack:

  • Excavate: remove most or all things, even just one category at a time, to see everything you own.
  • Evaluate: engage in critical thinking and set up guidelines around what you need and what can go.
  • Edit: follow those guidelines, piece by piece, to select the items that stay and the items that leave.
  • Establish Zones: create a system and flow for storage and retrieval of items that make sense for the space you have and for the items you’re keeping.

This method can help you break down your tasks and figure out a plan to declutter and get organized!

Remember, you’re making decisions based on the value the items play to you in your current and foreseeable future and recognizing that anything else is probably clutter, and clutter is getting in your way of using your home the way you want to. This is why we’re doing this work; to cut down on the cost of clutter in our lives. 


Each week, we have 3 levels for you to engage in. Pick the one that feels like it will work with your time, energy, and needs for the week. You can always rally later in the week and do more! If you’re managing your time closely and can’t do a lot in one session, see what you can do in a 20-Minute Attack. Set a timer, stay focused, and see what you can accomplish in less time than it would take to watch a sitcom! And let us know what you path you’re on each week with the hashtag #tackleit and then the week we’re on, for example: #tackleit  #week3

All Aboard (This is the normal challenge level):
–  MEDS/HABA ROUNDUP: Review and edit the categories above: 
    – Medicines/Vitamins, even if they live somewhere else 
    – First Aid
    – Cosmetics
    – Toiletries
    – Cleaning supplies
    – The “Other” category. 
– Wipe down surfaces as you clear them off 
– Rinse out all the recyclables, and get the trash and recyclables out of there!
– Make a shopping list for items you got rid of and *need* to replace

– LINEN ROUND UP: Review and edit the categories above from
    – BED – sheets, blankets, comforters/quilts, mattress pads, and dust ruffles
    – BATH – bath towels,  hand towels, washcloths, bath mats,
    – DINING – tablecloths (labeled by shape and size!) 

MiniChallenge (for people with limited time or energy this week)
PICK AT LEAST THREE, and at least one of them in the LINEN family

– Medicines, vitamins, etc. 
– Cosmetics and accessories
– Everything hair related
– Everything oral-care related 
– Everything skin related
– Everything First Aid/Health related
– Everything that exists just to make you smell good
– Everything that exists that feels like it’s “Spa Day” related
– Space (and not body) cleaning supplies
– Bath toys and items that just the kids use (even if the grown ups use them too)
– Just edit the core categories of: SHEETS,  PILLOWCASES , TOWELS, WASHCLOTHS, and BATH MATS/RUGS

 LevelUp Challenge (for people with more time, energy, or greater need)
In addition to the All Aboard Challenge: 
– Deep clean the rest of the bathroom and storage. Don’t forget the windows! 
– Sort through/restock your travel kit (we will travel again!!)  and your emergency kits for first aid supplies.
– Edit your beach towels and your “oops” towels 
– Edit the spare pillows you have around the house, both for sleeping and for decor
– Review your tablecloths, cloth napkins and your dishtowels 


Medication expirations – we all have questions about that! Here is a resource to help

Cosmetics expirations – yeah, those go past their prime and past when we should be putting them on our face. Here is a resource to help

Fun fact: my first job in high school was working the Linens and Draperies department at a department store in the mall. It was here that I learned the tremendous life skills of folding towels so that they fit on your shelves and look like a showroom (obsessed!), getting blankets and comforters to fit in that plastic bag you bought it in, and of course, folding a fitted sheet. ( I made this video for the 2016 Challenge, and it’s been viewed over 60,000 times, with some very positive comments (only one of which is someone asking if I’m single…)  So if you have any questions about how to fold something, please let me know!!

I’ll be sharing some other videos in the Facebook Group this week (separate from our Weekly Live with Kathy call) about how I fold towels, if you’re interested!  



This week, I wanted to talk a little bit about the concept of WASTE. We’ve already been dancing with it when we were in the kitchen, questioning what we should keep, and understanding, sometimes with a twinge of pain, that to achieve our goals, it may mean letting go of something that’s “still good”. The feelings that can come up, the ones that are associated with “waste” can be regret, shame, and guilt. So, in order to avoid those feelings, we hold onto things that we don’t need, want, or use. We’ve associated “waste” as a negative always, when in fact, getting rid of something may be a much bigger positive in our other goals. It’s important that, when you get that *pang* of waste, you spend some time checking in with where it might come from, and what the *real* problem you’re wrestling with is.  

Regret can often be associated with money that was spent, right? You invested in something, whether for a dollar or a thousand dollars, and then you just didn’t use it all. You may have that feeling of *I didn’t get my money’s worth*. You may be feeling “I spent my money on THIS, when I could have spent it on something more *successful* or even saved it”.  But many things we’re keeping COST us. Cost us space, energy, time spent looking for other things, etc. It may have cost you to bring it into your life, but it may cost you MORE to keep it. Your real estate is your most valuable financial asset. Your sanity is your most valuable energy asset. When regret prevents you from protecting those assets, it’s time to call it by name and look at the bigger gain. 

Maybe you’re feeling some shame around a choice you made (with your money? with your space? with your energy?) which didn’t pan out, and now you feel shame or are afraid you’re being judged by others about that decision. This can be tough, because it can actually generate a bigger commitment to something you know doesn’t work for you, because you’d rather avoid that feeling related to interpersonal connections. I learned 3 key phrases from my strategy professor in my MBA program back in 1992: “Beware of the escalation of commitment to a failing course of action”. That can be fierce. When someone doubles down to something that is failing, that clench can get stronger, and it doesn’t solve the problem you had in the first place. When you’re feeling rumblings of shame, check in on whether those feelings should get in the way of the bigger choices you’re making around your stuff and your space. 

Guilt, though maybe “obligation” is a better word, can come up when you feel the mere act of throwing something away that you never used, under used, or just no longer use, is *bad for the environment*. It’s as if you’re mentally deciding that, if it doesn’t get thrown away, I’m not contributing to a problem. But you already bought it, own it, store it. As I’ve said to many people: If you’ve made a decision to let go of something and you’ve exhausted all ‘responsible’ outlets so you decide to keep it instead of throwing it away, then you are renting out space to a landfill.” 

Remember – call to action is “If you’re feeling that letting go of something is wasteful, go deeper to see what emotional reaction you’re REALLY trying to avoid. I would love to hear in the Facebook Group what this post brings up for you and whether you find this relatable. 

    Remember: You’re here because you made a choice to bring your head, heart, and body all in the same direction: to let go of things and have smoother systems in your home. If it was easy, you’d be done by now.





    If you’re like most of my clients, there are a lot of items in this space for you that’s meant to make you FEEL GREAT, and LOOK GREAT. I want you to think of a FUN activity this week:


    As you’re going through all those “someday I’ll take a bath with these bath salts” and “someday I’ll do this mask” and “someday I’ll do that deep treatment on my hair” items, many of them gifts that have come your way from well-meaning people, MAKE A DATE with yourself (during Break week?)  to have moment of pampering and USE these items! Maybe it’s 15 minutes and a soak in a tub. Maybe it’s a whole evening of pampering. Take the moment for yourself and shift some of these ASPIRATIONAL products into your REAL life! 

    We’re in our 3rd week and then we’re off on a BREAK next week. This Challenge is designed to help you make the progress you seek, but while pacing yourself and taking time to be THOUGHTFUL about the work we do. If you don’t want to take a break next week and want to keep motoring on, we’ll talk about that in the video this week. 



    Happy Organizing!




    WEDNESDAY, JAN 19th – 8:00pm Eastern




    missed the last one? Click here







    Week 1 – Jan 3: Kitchen: Food – Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
    Week 2 – Jan 10: Kitchen/Dining: What we use to prep, cook, serve, eat, store, and clean after eating! 
    Week 3 – Jan 17: Bath and Bed: Medicines, Toiletries, Cosmetics, Personal Items, etc. 
    Week 4 – Jan 24: BREAK – take a break, catch up, or sneak ahead
    Week 5 – Jan 31: Clothes, shoes, accessories
    Week 6 – Feb 7: Living / Family Room spaces
    Week 7 – Feb 14: Kid stuff / Holiday Decor / Pet stuff (Choose Your Own Adventure)
    Week 8 – Feb 21: BREAK – take a break, catch up, or sneak ahead
    Week 9 – Feb 28: Memorabilia
    Week 10 – Mar 7: Home Office/Papers
    Week 11 – Mar 14: Hobbies / Arts and Crafts / Sporting Goods