Yes I’ve just completed the bookshelves and yes there is a method to the madness. Start by clearing off the shelf or shelves and grouping all of your things together. Pick a theme (seasonal, beach-y, woodland, etc) and have enough things on hand to choose from to be creative. Don’t bring everything but the kitchen sink, though because then you will have too many choices and will over think it.
Place larger items first and then fill in with smaller pieces. Don’t crowd the space – you need to give the eye a rest as it moves from one thing to another. You can also give your eye a break with one large item. If you are doing just one shelf, start with an anchor piece and although I like to center it most of the time, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the middle. Remember just have fun with it there is no right or wrong and enjoy.