A part of our daily life which benefits from organizing is how we pack and use our purses, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, baby bags and so on. Having a system in place to make these things as easy to use as possible and well stocked and prepared makes our daily life just that much easier.
Being a busy parent, a busy worker or business person, a busy committee member, a busy hobbyist, a busy group member, a busy student, a busy anything, or all of these at once, means it's good to be prepared for anything.
It's a lot easier to keep an organized daily bag if we have chosen the most appropriate bag for the job. A well designed and attractive bag, purse, backpack, carry all or briefcase is a pleasure to carry. Having a few different ones for different purposes might be necessary, and of course ladies need different handbags/purses for different outfits. (Yes, I really do.)
Personally I'm glad that there are lots of oversized handbags (in Australia we call purses handbags, and we call ladies wallets purses) in fashion at the moment, with plenty of compartments.
So, what sort of bits and pieces do we need to carry around with us on a daily basis?
Phone, keys, glasses, sunglasses, purse/wallet, pocket tissues or handkerchief, medication, personal hygiene and grooming items
Blackberry or diary/planner, notebook, pen
Mini mirror, lipstick or chapstick, emery board/nail file, compact, brush or comb, hair ties/clips
PAPERS, LETTERS, DOCUMENTS
We may have letters to post, notices that we pick up while we're out, documents we need to carry with us to an appointment or errand. I always put letters to post straight into my bag.
We often carry a bottled drink with us, mints, chewing gum or small snacks, toothpicks/dental floss, breath spray or mini mouth wash, fragrance or deodorant, mini moisturizer or hand cream, iPod or Mp3 player and headphones or plug, sat nav we take out of the car, eye drops, bandaids, safety pins and bobby pins, baby wipes, computer discs, zip drives, mini tool kits, cameras, chargers, book to read, hobby material (knitting, sketch pad....), coupons, membership cards, discount cards and rewards cards (there are often way too many of these to keep them in your wallet/purse.
Change of clothes, night wear, toiletries, chargers
BABY OR CHILDREN'S BAGS
If we have a small baby still breast or bottle feeding and still in nappies/diapers, we will usually carry a designated bag just for their things. Mine was big with 3 in nappies at once, and I'd need:
- enough nappies for how long I would be out
- change of clothes for each child
- jacket or jumper/pullover or cardigan
- drink bottles or sippy cups after they were weaned
- nursing pads
- baby wipes
- bags for rubbish and soiled nappies
- a bunny rug to use as a change mat or for privacy when breastfeeding
- bum cream or powder
- baby food or snacks or fruit & small spoons
- bunny rugs for the pram
- small toys and books
- any medication they might need, teething gel, rusks, teething rings
Older children can be given a small backpack each to carry themselves, if for example you are going to the zoo or such outing, and be responsible for their own hat, drink bottle, jumper etc. Mummy doesn't have to carry everyone else's stuff forever, though you may still let your partner put his phone and keys in your bag sometimes.
Ok, I'm addicted to baby wipes/wet wipes. Even when not surrounded by small people with sticky fingers and faces, I often use them myself to freshen up, wipe my hands, clean up spills, get a mark out of my clothes, touch up my makeup, dust my car, wipe my computer keyboard, clean my phone. They make easy to carry little pocket packs of them now, and I always have them with me.
As well as daily personal needs, we need texts, notebooks, stationery, pens etc, assignments or essays to hand in, computer discs, zip drives.
Reading material, memos, assignments or projects, tools, materials, samples, invoice books, cheque books, business cards, brochures, computer discs, zip drives
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH BAGS
- not well prepared, missing things we need
- not being able to find things we need to put in the bag
- not being able to find things easily in the bag itself
- carrying around stuff we don't really need
To keep our bag system working well, we need to make decisions. Yes, I'm always on about making decisions. We need to decide firstly on basic items we ALWAYS need, which for me are phone, keys, diary, notebook, medication, tissues, pens, business cards, baby wipes and tissues, purse (wallet), some basic grooming items, sunglasses, sat nav, iPod. reading glasses. Yes, I carry quite a large bag.
There can then be a second category of things you may need sometimes, but not always. Extra grooming items, a nappy/diaper, drink bottle, snacks, kids stuff. If there is more kids stuff than just one nappy and a hat, consider getting your partner to carry a backpack too, or keep a bag under your pram. Older kids can carry a small backpack themselves.
For an evening bag, much smaller, the basics are phone, keys (perhaps just house key), lipstick and mirror, compact, small emery board (I hate being caught out with a broken nail), medication, toothpicks, eyedrops, and instead of a whole purse/wallet (too big for many evening bags), just some cash and a card and drivers' licence, a pen, a couple of cards to write on or give out, concert tickets if needed.
To keep our bags well packed, with just what we need, but without stuff we don't need, checklists are the answer. We can have different checklists for different situations. The checklist should include checking things which may need to be re-stocked, such as medications, bandaids, tissues etc. The checklist can be laminated if you like - very handy for kids school bags or kinder back packs, and kept in the bag or where the bag goes. Which reminds me....
DESIGNATED PLACE FOR YOUR BAG
There should be one or two places only where your bag belongs in your home, and perhaps a bunch of hooks where you keep all the various different bags you and your family use. The two main places mine lives are in my room hanging on the bedpost, and on my desk.
If you do have two places, have two phone chargers. My bag always goes with me to my room at bedtime and my phone charges on my bedside table. My keys always stay with my bag.
BLOKES' (that's Australian for men) STUFF
Blokes are just as needful of a good system for carrying their daily belongings as women. It can be tricky for them because they don't usually carry a handbag/purse, but they have developed ways to deal with that.
- bum bags/fanny packs, money belts
The same systems apply for blokes, but they do tend to travel a bit lighter, and if they have a female partner, they can always ask to pop their phone/keys etc in her bag while they are out.
What they really need to have though, is one or two designated places where they empty their pockets, keep their backpack or briefcase, and put down their things. If your man needs help with this, instead of nagging and complaining, help him out, think it through from his point of view, and find something that will work for him that he will feel comfortable with, such as:
- If you are a man reading this, of course you can try these things for yourself, or see if your existing system needs tweaking or modifying. If you're more organized than your partner, take the same approach, being helpful rather than nagging.
- Put an attractive bowl or basket, or both, or several, near his bedside table. Give him a place to empty his pockets of change, put his watch and wallet, charge his phone, place his backpack or briefcase.
- If he leaves bills and mail and papers laying around, give him a designated desk area with trays and folders for different items. Help him keep it organized, but make it his space, not yours, and be nice about it, not pushy or complaining. He'll love it. There are often a clutter of business cards and brochures too. Give them a container to keep them in neatly, so they can easily be sorted through and things can easily be found.
WALLETS AND PURSES
These tend to bulge with notes, coins, receipts, all sorts of cards - drivers licence, credit cards, bank cards, membership cards, rewards cards. A few tips for keeping the bulge down:
- Take out your receipts every day and put them in your receipts folder, where you will record them on your book keeping system, then file them if they need keeping for tax, warranty or possible return or exchange, or throw them away.
- Keep the smallest possible number of credit and bank cards. It's possible to have just one card that does both.
- Weed out business cards you have picked up that you don't need at all or don't need to carry with you. A business card holder on your desk is handy, and if you need the information, enter the contact into your phone.
- When you pay for something, use up your change. Give correct money and smallest possible change every time, and your change won't build up.
- Consider keeping just one family photo rather than many, or keeping your photos on your phone or iPod, for when you want to show off your kids or your pets or your partner, or your yacht or whatever.
- Consider a separate place to keep coupons, discount cards and so on. If you have a lot of store discount cards, they'll be easier to find in a separate place and not in your wallet. If there are just a few, have sections in your wallet for them, and get rid of those you no longer use.
- Small zip up mini wallets are useful for both business cards you give out or collect, and for coupons and discount cards.
- If you have a few lay by receipts, consider keeping these in a separate small zip bag too. You don't need them in your wallet all the time.
SMALLER BAGS WITHIN A BAG
Instead of rummaging the bottom of your bag for small items, I keep a number of small zip up bags in my bag. One is for medication, one is for small grooming and personal items, one is for business cards, and sometimes there is an extra one with hair stuff, extra makeup, mini deodorant or fragrance etc.
I've become obsessed with collecting these small bags, and have a collection of them in a drawer, where I can always find exactly the right one. There are variously shaped makeup bags, pencil cases, tiny little embroidered or sequined zip up bags, even satin drawstring bags for spare hose or jewellery. You don't want to be caught with laddered tights on a special night out, and sometimes you may wish to change from day to night accessories on the run.
When rummaging through a large bag, you can easily identify small bags or large items by feel, especially if they are of different textures.
POCKETS AND COMPARTMENTS IN YOUR BAG
Outside pockets, or easily accessible ones, are good for keys and phone. You want to be able to grab these without even looking, and to hear your phone ringing. Small pockets are a great place to keep pens too. I keep my iPod in a zip section with it's earphones.
Happy handbags folks.
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