I can’t even begin to tell you the number of people who have asked me the correct way to organize a pocketbook, man bag, etc. … whatever you want to call it. Why? Because they claim they can never find anything in it!
The first few times I got that question, I laughed (to myself, of course)… not because it was a stupid question but because in my opinion, the answer varies from person to person. I asked myself… what makes them think I know the answer? But then it dawned on me… of course you know the answer, you’re a Professional Organizer! So even though the answer is a very personal one, as a Professional Organizer I can give you the general tips that I use whenever I reorganize my bag. Hopefully some, if not all of these, will work for you as well.
1. Take everything out of your bag including all zippered/unzipped compartments and pockets (inside as well as outside).
2. As you take things out of the bag, start to make decisions about every item:
- toss/recycle anything that no longer serves you
- for things you’re going to keep, group like items together (makeup, receipts, money, electronics, etc.) For small items, containerize them to they’re easy to find in your bag… i.e. small distinct or even see-through bags so you know the category for each.
3. Once you’ve gone through everything and you’ve identified the items you’re going to keep, you need to make additional critical decisions about each item to determine if you really need to keep them in your pocketbook. This may sound silly but let’s face it. The more you have in there, the harder it is to find things. In addition, the heavier it becomes, the more damage it can do to your body. So I suggest you ask yourself the following questions…
- Do I use this daily?
- How many of these do I need to keep in my bag?
- How much real estate (space) does it take up?
- How much weight does it add?
Only plan to put the essential items in the bag. Let me give you an example. I travel with the bare necessities. In my makeup bag, I only have one of each essential… one lipstick, one eyeshadow, etc. I have minimalist tendencies to I make sure I own neutral shades that go with anything.
4. While everything is out of the bag, take a few moments to wipe the items down in addition to the bag itself so it looks as clean as possible… not only the outside but even the inside.
5. Before you put your “keepers” back in the bag, you need to decide WHERE to put them. Be strategic about placement. Here are some of the “rules” I use when I put things in there.
- my cell phone ALWAYS goes in the largest zippered inside pocket along with my keys. They go in the same pocket every time so I always know exactly where they are and so they can’t fall out.
- miscellaneous smaller items (business cards, mints, tape measurer, etc.) always go in a small, inside pocket. I don’t want them to get lost in a larger section of my bag
- What goes in the main, widest section of my bag? The big items… my wallet, makeup bag, receipt holder, taser, and other larger items. This section typically zips/clasps so I don’t have to worry about them falling out. Decide what makes the most sense based on the bag design… to place things vertically or horizontally in your bag.
- What do I store in the deep, outside pocket that I need quick access to? Typically 2 things:
- a small notebook (with pen attached) that I can easily grab to make notes as needed
- my strategic selection of writing instruments… 1 of each (a pen, mechanical pencil, highlighter, fine marker, medium marker, etc.) To take it a step further, I have them contained in a see-through pocket-protecter so they don’t become separated. An added perk is that the pocket protector prevents my bag from damage should a pen/marker leak.
6. Create a receptacle near the front door of your home to keep things you sometimes carry in your bag but don’t need every day so they’re at your fingertips.
7. Maintain. Go through your bag at least once per week to clean it out.
This is a system that I have tweaked over the years that works extremely well for me. I will also note that I’m very strategic about the style of pocketbooks I buy. I won’t buy one simply because it’s cute, etc. I have a checklist of needs it must fulfill before I make the purchase including style, size, inside pockets, outside pockets, price, etc. If it doesn’t meet ALL my criteria (including a great price), it stays in the store.
Is it exhausting being me with all my rules & guidelines? Sometimes! But then again, I truly believe it makes my life so much easier every day because I’ve already make the tough decisions. Now I just refer to my checklists and life is a breeze!
I hope this quick overview has helped. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
Quote: “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” ~ Benjamin Franklin ~
Brenda Tringali, Organizing & Productivity Specialist
At Your Fingertips Organizing
Serving Greater Myrtle Beach, SC or “virtually” anywhere (via phone/video)
Brenda Tringali is the owner of At Your Fingertips Organizing. She provides Life/Workplace/Residential Organizing & Productivity services to clients in the Myrtle Beach, SC area & “virtually” anywhere via video, phone, etc. Drawing from her 30 years of Human Resources/Staffing experience, she also helps clients with HR/Staffing/Job Search needs as well. Brenda is an active member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals). She is also Chair of the NAPOCares Committee which highlights the community outreach efforts of NAPO members, NAPO Chapters, and NAPO Business Partners as they reach out to share the three “T’s” of Social Responsibility: their Time, Treasures, and Talents.