During this week's challenge we're going to be working on organizing purses, handbags and wallets so we can find what we need quickly on the go.
Raise your hand (or "like" this page, or pin it, whatever) if you can't find what you need in your purse without having to dump everything out or dig around to find it.
Similarly, who has a purse that is very full and/or heavy, to the point of pain or embarrassment?
If so, this challenge is for you! If not, I bet its because you've recently cleaned out your bag. Good for you, but still read on for ideas for organizing these items for the future.
In addition, I just want to note before we get into the challenge that although the steps listed below are specifically for your purses, handbags and wallets, they can and will also work for just about any bag you carry stuff around in.
Therefore, this challenge can also be used to help organize your briefcase or work bag, laptop bag, backpack or bookbag, gym bag or even your diaper bag. So make sure you organize whatever bags you're using consistently for carrying stuff outside the house as part of this challenge.
Are you new here? The Organizing Purses, Handbags & Wallets Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
Your purse, diaper bag, briefcase, etc. are all items you take out into the world with you each day. Therefore, it's imperative that you have a designated place to put these totes as they both come in the house and so you can easily find them when you leave the house.
That's why the first step in the Organizing Purses, Handbags & Wallets Challenge is to designate a spot somewhere in your home that you'll consistently place your purse when you come in the door each day. In fact, you may have already done this as part of the Entryway Organization Challenge back in an earlier week.
I suggest this designated place be close to an electrical outlet so you can charge your phone or other electronic devices easily.
An added bonus when you do this step is you won't be searching for your lost or misplaced purse, slowing you down from getting out the door when you're in a hurry!
The second step in the Organizing Purses, Handbags & Wallets Challenge is to take out all the items in the bag, completely, so you can survey what you've got in there.
I suggest doing this near a trash can or recycling bin, if possible, because you'll definitely run across some trash during this step.
Go ahead and completely remove all the items from your wallet too, including all the little compartments. You may be surprised what you find in there.
Now that you've got everything out of your bag, you can see what you've really got and begin the decluttering process.
To help you know what needs to be decluttered from your bags, remember the functions of these items. These bags are used to carry around essential items with you when you are on the go, and therefore you should be able to access these items quickly and easily.
You've got to get rid of the mentality that you've got to be ready for absolutely anything, and instead, just have things available for what is likely to be needed or used.
Also, realize that your bags contain two different kinds of things in them at all times. First, they hold items you use over and over, and should keep in there all the time, such as keys, ID, credit cards, etc. I call these permanent items.
Second, your bags contain things that I'll refer to as temporary items, since they are used only for a short time, such as a to do list, grocery list, receipts, etc. These types of items need to be removed regularly to keep things from getting junked up in your bag.
When beginning the task of decluttering if you see multiples of items, go ahead and winnow it down to just one.
Similarly, if you're carrying a full sized version of something, like lotion, makeup, or medication, consider if you could carry the travel sized version instead to save space and weight.
I've written an entire article and Declutter 365 mission about decluttering your purse which provides even more discussion, and also contains a purse checklist for what I think are essential contents, to help you keep it down to a minimum of stuff you'll carry around.
Further, remove excess change which weighs you down. The goal is to lighten up your bags considerably, so they don't hurt your back and this is a good first step in that process.
Make sure you need all the cards you're carrying around in your wallet, such as debit and credit cards. If not, shred and discard some of them, and cancel the accounts.
I've also written an entire Declutter 365 mission about decluttering your wallet which you can read for more information, plus a list of items you should NOT keep in your wallet.
Once you've decluttered your wallet you should make a wallet inventory, which contains a list of contents of your wallet, along with information necessary to freeze, cancel, and or replace the items in your wallet if it is lost or stolen. You may have already done this as part of organizing contact information challenge.
Finally, deal with all those little scraps of paper. Throw away trash, expired coupons, old grocery and to do lists, etc. In addition, look at your receipts, and make sure to declutter any receips you don't need to keep.
Once you've gotten rid of the clutter weighing your bags down, and that kept you from finding what you needed, when you needed it, the next step is to put everything back in an organized fashion.
In the fourth step of the Organizing Purses, Handbags & Wallets Challenge you're going to group everything into categories, and then containerize them so you can find everything easily within your bags.
Here are some of the main categories of items you may be holding in your handbag now, and that you'll need to group and contain:
You're already familiar with grouping like items together in your purse, since you most likely already use a wallet to hold your money items, from cash, checkbook, credit and debit cards, and ID, for example.
Coupon Organizer Wallet
[Click to buy on Amazon]
Similarly, group other items together and place all of your makeup and beauty items in a little bag (see a cute one below as an example), and create another bag for first aid items. If you like to carry only a small amount of coupons, not huge binders worth, a coupon wallet such as the one on the right, may be good for you too.
In addition, create a designated envelope that you keep in your wallet or purse to hold receipts, so that you can find them easily in the future, and file them appropriately as needed. (You can read more about how to use a receipt envelope or organizer here.)
You should also make sure to have at least one (and at most two) pens in your bag, so you can jot down items as needed. I also suggest a small notebook, if you've got room, so you can write down thoughts and items you just remembered when the idea comes to you.
Small cosmetics bags are handy
[Click here for variety on Amazon]
It is essential to containerize so you can find what you need without digging through lots of loose items in your purse. The containers also come in very handy if you like to switch purses and other bags often, since you just have to remove a couple of containers to switch to a new bag.
These containers or items also should not be thrown into your purse willy nilly. Instead, you should designate specific places for items, or types of items, and always place things back in the same spot. For example, always place your keys in an inside zippered pocket, so you know exactly where you placed them and can find them quickly, even in the dark.
Your goal is not to search every single pocket to find an item. Instead, it is to put things away in consistenly the same spot so you know where everything is without looking.
You can have a lot of fun with the containers you choose for your purses, handbags and other bags, as well as choosing really cute bags that themselves can help you get everything organized.
There are lots of varieties out there, and you've just got to look around for the right one that suits your needs, personality and taste. You can either purchase a bag with lots of compartments that you can use to keep items sorted, or you can use little containers within your bags to do basically the same thing yourself.
One of the best of both worlds items, in my opinion, are purse organizer inserts. These inserts give purses you already own that don't have lots of compartments a place for everything to stay put, in an organized fashion. In addition, they give you the ability to easily switch from bag to bag by just moving the insert. Here are some good examples to choose from:
Once you've organized your purse that you're currently using, you need to designate a space for all the other purses and handbags that you own, but aren't currently using.
If you really never use these, these are prime items for decluttering.
On the other hand, if you do want to rotate them in and out of use, using different bags for different outfits, seasons and/or occasions, then make it easy to do that by storing them in an organized manner.
Use some otherwise wasted space in your closet or bedroom, such as the wall, or the back of a door, and hang your purses, or place them on shelves. I've written a whole article with purse and handbag storage ideas and solutions you can use, so go check it out!
When you display them neatly, you'll be able to easily see and remember what you have, so you can actually use these handbags regularly.
In addition to storing your handbags and purses properly, if you plan to switch bags often it is important to create an area where you can change purses easily.
Sometimes, when switching purses you don't want to add all your items into the new one, such as when you switch to a small evening purse for a night out on the town, and don't want to hold everything you do in your "Mom" purse. In such situations, having a station in your bedroom where you can hold all these items you're not using now, but will use again later can be helpful.
Definitely don't hold currently unused items in one of the purses. That's a recipe for disaster of not finding it again until much much later, and having items scattered over multiple purses.
The final step in the Organizing Purses, Handbags and Wallets Challenge is to create a routine for yourself to keep these bags organized and free of clutter.
Ideally, you'd look through your purse briefly each evening and remove any temporary items that have served their purpose, and add anything new you'll need for the next day. However, with things like coupons, receipts, etc., weekly will typically do.
As part of this weekly routine take ten minutes or so to remove temporary items, throw away any trash, put away any items that don't belong, replenish any supplies that are running low, and generally neaten up your bag. This step, if done regularly, doesn't take long and keeps your organized purse maintained most of the time in good working order.
I would love to know how this week's Organizing Purses, Handbags & Wallets Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized these items in the comments below.
I also would love to see before and after pictures of your organized purses and wallets, once you've completed the challenge. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Organizing Purses, Handbags & Wallets Challenge this week.
However, I know some of you love to know what's coming next, so I'll tell you. Next week we'll organize CDs, DVDs and other media in our homes.
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I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!