There are lots of purse and bag organizing products available but I’ve never tried any of them. I never felt they were necessary. By choosing the right bag and the right accessories and following a couple of rules, I was always able to keep my purse or bag organized.
So here’s how I do it and here are my rules:
Choosing a Purse or Bag
Regardless of whether I’m choosing a purse or bag, the same criteria apply. I’ll warn you ahead of time that I have very specific things I’m looking for. I generally have a hard time finding what I want but I know it when I see it. So here goes:
1. Structure. I hate a bag that falls over when I set it down. It needs to be stay upright so my stuff stays where I put it.
2. A center divider. This isn’t a deal breaker but it’s my preference. And if the center divider is flimsy, I add cardboard to it to stiffen it. You can read about that here.
3. Outside pockets. At least one but preferably two. I use one pocket for my keys and one pocket for my phone. My current purse doesn’t have outside pockets. I’m dealing with it but I don’t like it.
4. Medium length straps. That really has nothing to do with being organized – it’s just what I like. I don’t like straps so short that I can’t carry the bag over my shoulder but I don’t like them so long that the bag bangs against my hip.
5. Open top. I hate zippers or flaps. I want to be able to get in the bag quickly and easily. And if my cell phone is in one of the interior pockets, I need to be able to hear it.
6. Inside pockets. At least a couple. I use those for lipstick, business cards, digestive supplements, cell phone.
7. Not too big. Not too small. (Do I sound like Goldilocks and the Three Bears?) But it has to be big enough to hold my planner.
Here are a couple of bags I’ve used in the recent past that fulfill most of these criteria:
This bag doesn’t have outside pockets. Other than that, it works pretty well.
I carried this bag a long time! It had everything, including a great color (I had carried mainly only black before I got this one). But after a while I just wanted something new.
This was actually a mini tote I got from Franklin Covey. The first one I got was pink and white and I wore it out. I was so sad about its demise that I got another one – but it was the brown one (they didn’t have any more pink and I had a heck of time getting a brown one – had to have it shipped from another store) which I didn’t like quite a as well. You can see this bag didn’t have a center divider but it had great outside pockets. It had one on the front and one on each end. I put my keys in one of the end pockets and my phone in the other. The only major problem I had with this bag was that the straps weren’t quite long enough. When I was wearing a coat, I couldn’t get the bag on my shoulder.
I thought this was an awesome bag when I got it but I didn’t end up carrying it very long. It had structure, the center divider, the pockets – but I couldn’t carry it on my shoulder and it leaned to one side (the side with the outside pockets). For some reason that bugged me. I haven’t gotten rid of it, though, because I really like it and I may end up using it.
Now, here are my rules:
1. I only carry the things I absolutely need. For me, that’s my wallet (a very small one), a clear cosmetic bag with odds & ends, several pens, a small notebook (in case I don’t have my planner with me), and, of course, my planner. I have a few small things that go in the pockets but that’s it.
2. I keep odds & ends in a clear cosmetic bag. It makes it easy to transfer those little things from one bag to another and I can see at a glance where something is that I’m looking for.
I’m a contractor’s wife so, of course, I carry a tape measure. You’d be surprised how often I use it. I also have a key to my husband’s truck. I don’t have it on my key ring because I never drive the truck. I always have my Swiss army knife – another thing you’d be surprised how often I use. And those are my husband’s reading glasses. Am I a nice wife, or what?! We always get to restaurants and he can’t see the menu. But he doesn’t want to carry them himself.
3. Keep it cleaned out. Sometimes after a shopping trip or a busy day, my bag gets full of stuff. Before I go out again, I clean it out. Sometimes that just means dropping all the extra stuff on my desk (my black hole!) and sometimes it means actually putting things away. But either way, they’re removed from my bag.
4. A place for everything and everything in its place. Since I always choose structured bags, it’s easy to assign each item a location and to keep it there. Sometimes items get moved around but I end up putting them back where they go without even thinking about it.
And that’s it. Finding the right bag and following the rules keeps my bag clean and orderly.
What kind of bag do you like? And what’s in your bag?