How to Organize Your Bag

Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

Ever wonder what’s the best way to organize your bag? Do you struggle with having a bag that is crowded, or one in which everything falls to the bottom? This is a common struggle. When we have to dig through a bag in order to find what we need we both waste time and get frustrated. If this sounds familiar, here are a few ideas for how to bring order to your bag.

FIRST: Select one bag that will be your “regular” bag.

I know it can be fun to switch handbags, and if you enjoy this process without issue, by all means carry on. However, if you are struggling, you might want to stick to one bag, especially for “daily use.” When we switch bags, we are more likely to leave something important in another bag. Also, because bags have different shapes and sizes, it is harder to establish a reliable system for what goes where when we use different bags. To make life simpler, select a bag that will accommodate everything you need. If the bag you choose already has items inside, dump them out, and shake the bag upside down over a trash can so you can start fresh.

SECOND: Identify what you always want to have in your bag.

Assemble all the items that you know you definitely want with you every time you go out. Examples of these “must haves” include:

  • Keys
  • Wallet
  • Glasses/sunglasses
  • Mask
  • Phone
  • Lip Balm

Other common items that people carry include:

  • Medications
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Vaccination card/ID card
  • Hand lotion
  • Mints/gum/cough drops
  • Dental floss
  • Pen(s)
  • Notepad
  • Feminine protection
  • Cosmetics
  • Nail file/nail clippers
  • Tissues
  • Hairbrush/comb/hair elastics
  • Pocket knife/multi-tool
  • Instant stain remover

Depending on your particular situation (business worker, student, parent on the go, etc.), you might also want to have:

  • Business cards
  • Electronics, charging cords, earphones
  • Portable battery charger
  • Thumb drive
  • Water bottle
  • Band-aids™
  • Snacks
  • Diapers & Wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Reusable fold-up bag
THIRD: Establish locations inside the bag for specific items.

Begin by considering the built-in compartments that are in your bag. For instance:

  • What will live in the outside pocket(s)?
  • How about the zippered pocket on the inside?
  • Are there pockets or pouches that are well-sized for specific belongings?
  • Is there a space ring or carabiner for your keys?

Resist the temptation to simply stash items back into your bag. Mindfully choose what will live where.

Bags often have large, unstructured areas that are not ideal for carrying small items in an organized way.  Tiny objects tossed loosely into a gaping bag fall to the bottom and get lost. Additionally, fragile items can get damaged if not properly protected. This is true for any large storage space into which we try and place small items, such as a car console, deep drawer or wide shelf. However, if your bag lacks sufficient internal structure, you can add some of your own.

There are a couple of ways to add structure to a bag:

  1. Use small pouches to hold like items together, such as cosmetics, writing implements, adapters, cords, and personal care supplies.
  2. Add an insert to your bag that has built-in pockets and storage spaces.
  3. Obtain containers that are specifically designed to keep fragile items, such as glasses and electronics, safe.

Need a little visual inspiration? Here are a few examples of products that work well for keeping items organized and protected in bags.

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Naturally, the types of structure that will work best depends upon what you want to carry with you.

Additionally, you may want to set up multiple bags for different types of activities. For example, a backpack for school, a briefcase for the office, a gym bag, a beach bag, etc. These same ideas can be applied to any type of container.

How do you keep your bag organized?

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25 thoughts on “How to Organize Your Bag”

  1. It’s so funny because pre-pandemic I carried a large tote bag with all kinds of things. I used a compartment-style organizing insert plus a few pouches to give each item a “home” and make them easily findable. My test is if I can find it without looking (find it by ‘feel,’) then I know it’s a good system.

    Post pandemic, I only carry a tiny over the shoulder bag. It doesn’t hold much except for the essentials. It’s great for being out and about. For travel or farther excursions, I put that bag inside a larger bag or backpack. Then I add pouches to store the additional items.

    1. The pandemic gave us fresh insight in SO MANY WAYS, right? I think I carry much less now than I used to, partly because I don’t want the weight on my shoulder.

      I have that same rule about finding things in my center car console. I want to be able to reach in and get what I need while keeping my eyes on the road!

  2. Hi Seana,
    I love a really simple bag. I don’t have a lot I have to carry but I understand that others might have to which can be a little more challenging. My purse holds my wallet, lip gloss, phone, mask and keys. I love a small purse but sometimes it does get full. (sometimes my partner is asking me to put things in there ugh) I always think it is good to clean out my purse of receipts and old masks. It is good to have your money ordered in order to expect more to come in and never put your purse on the floor. A little Feng Shui reference.
    Kim recently posted…What Can You Do in Ten Minutes?My Profile

    1. Agreed on the purse on the floor, if you can avoid it. I find I am carrying less and less the older I get. Getting the old masks out is a good tip!

  3. I used to always get fascinated by those fashion and/or gossip magazines having “what’s in my bag” segments. Very cool! The waterproof pouches are key for me these days. And the vaccination/health insurance cards for ME, and at least three of my kids.

    I always like to have a few “just in case” things, like Ibuprofen, shelf stable snacks, gum/mints, anxiety spray..
    Tamara recently posted…St Patrick’s Day Lucky Charm CupcakesMy Profile

  4. Great ideas. I definitely got away from using a handbag during the pandemic. I just carry my phone and the credit card I need in my pockets. I leave anything else in my car. which it’s much anyway. I downsized my bags but still have a few. I’m not sure if I’ll ever need them again.
    I occasionally use a laptop bag, but I prefer to keep that small too.

    1. I used to carry more than I do now. I remember the days of the diaper bag and so much more. Feels good to not be responsible for carrying what everyone else might need!

  5. My big ah-ha moment was to not have a wallet the same colour as the lining in the bag. A black wallet in a black bag is hard to find. Now I always buy a bright coloured wallet. I use a regular daily purse that has the type of compartments I like. I keep a very small bag in my car to transfer my keys, credit card and phone to when I only need a few things with me for running into a store, going on a walk, in a cinema. I lock my regular bag in the trunk.

    1. That’s a great tip about having a bright wallet in a dark bag. Terrific idea! Mine is kind of light, so it does stand out against my dark bag interiors. Also nice to have a “grab and go” bag in your car. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

    1. That’s so true, we don’t often think about it. And yet, it’s something we touch and use every day, so worth the effort to get it in order!

  6. I like a bag with lots of pockets but also a large open space because when it’s overly structured there’s always something that won’t fit in any of the sections.

    Miche Canada makes a line of bags in four sizes and you can buy different shells for them so you can change your bag to match your outfit or activity without unpacking and repacking everything. Very cool!
    Janet Barclay recently posted…10 Ten-Minute Tasks to Keep Your Website in Top ShapeMy Profile

    1. I will have to check out Miche Canada! Sounds like a great idea. Change out your bag without actually changing where anything is, right?

  7. Those little cord keepers are so neat! I love organizing my bag, especially when it’s been a while. Clearing out the accumulated change and receipts leaves my bag lighter, and that’s always a plus!

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