Handbag Chaos

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My handbag is loaded with stuff (big time). Any suggestions on how to organize all the "stuff" that I carry around such as makeup, medicines, receipts, checkbook, wallet, calculator, pens, planner, rain checks, glasses, coupons, credit cards, flyers, emergency sewing kit, Band-Aid's, and a toothbrush. Everything but the kitchen sink.

Organization is Key

My mom carries around a small general store in her handbag and always knows where everything is. What she does is to break things down into categories, like grooming (nail clippers, Chap Stick, comb, etc.), health (aspirin, antacid, etc.), office supplies (calculator, pens, pencils, notepad), and so on. Then each category is housed in its own small makeup or other zippered bag. Her bags are different so she can tell them apart, but you could also use clear makeup bags, or failing that, zip-locks!

Lighten the Load

Sure! I have solved this problem to my own satisfaction by carrying a small duffel in the trunk of my car with most of the stuff you mentioned. Then my handbag can carry only my wallet, cell phone, a small notebook and pen, my car keys, and a tissue. On really good days, I can carry only my wallet and car keys, leaving the bag at home, or locked in the trunk with the duffel.

A great day involves carrying only the business card cover that contains my driver's license, insurance card, and one other form of I.D. and my car keys. I can tuck a check and/or some cash into the tiny credit card holder, as well, if I want. Simple, and works for me!

No More Clutter

I have some suggestions for this reader with the disorganized handbag problem. First, I have one important question. How big is this handbag? (giggle)
Step 1: Organize, take out all paper and separate them into envelopes (coupons, receipts, rain checks, etc.) and leave them on your desk for when you need them.
Step 2: Separate all the personal stuff like toothbrush, toothpaste, personal hygiene, etc. into small plastic sandwich or snack bags (great travel tip, too). Put these back in purse.
Step 3: Medicines should be checked for expiration date and than sorted into one of those pill organizers.
Step 4: Get a good purse organizer that will hold your checkbook, pen and credit cards all in one place.
That's it. No more clutter.

Freedom from Non-essentials

You're not alone! Many women have handbags filled with "essentials" that they might need someday and others that they need every day!

Get a handbag with more than one pocket/section. Keep personal grooming and well-being items in one section (your toothbrush, makeup, comb, medicines, mints, etc). However, make sure that you have compact versions of these items to conserve space. For instance, get a travel toothbrush that folds in half. Carry only makeup that may be needed for touch-ups - your favorite powder, lipstick, blush (not 10 shades of eye shadow). Again, use travel sizes. Regarding medicines and Band-Aids, be realistic. The chance of you bleeding profusely or using a bottle of Midol before you return home, get to a restaurant, or visit a friend is relatively small. Carry a pillbox with a few pain relievers and slip two Band-Aids in a side pocket.

Now, how to handle those other items? Your wallet does not need to house your entire financial history. In fact, it shouldn't, for security purposes. Your wallet should contain your license, health insurance card, one or two major credit cards (as it is not necessary to carry every specialty card with you), your ATM/bank card, money, and transportation pass/work id.

Receipts can be kept in an envelope in your home or car (same thing for rain checks). If you need to return something, chances are you will need to return home to the get the item for return and will take your car to return it.

Instead of keeping a planner in your bag, I would suggest keeping it in your car. That way, you can grab it before you go to a meeting, go in the house etc. If you don't need to schedule something and just need to remind yourself to pick up the dry-cleaning, perhaps keeping a very small spiral notebook in your handbag would help. You could just transpose "pick up dry-cleaning on Thursday" into your planner at the end of the day while reviewing the following day's "to-do" list.

Coupons should be kept in the same location you use to put together your grocery list. They should only be taken with you when you are making a trip to the grocery store. Keeping them in your purse just creates clutter. There aren't too many things in your handbag that you couldn't live without for a few hours. Chances are that someone would have some of whatever you're missing to borrow anyway. Think about what is essential - money, credit cards, keys, license, glasses. Put that stuff in your handbag first and then evaluate whatever is left in your pile.

My handbag contains a small credit card holder that holds my license, two credit cards, my bank card, my insurance card, my train pass and work id, a small black comb, a lipstick, powder, a nail file, eye drops, and money. I also drop my keys in there when needed. That's it. I've never felt abandoned or lost without keeping any additional items.

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