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Real Simple – May, 2000

ORGANIZE

There isn’t a woman in the world who hadn’t spent an inordinate among of time with her arm buried in her purse, searching blindly for something. The solution: utilizing the bag-within-the-bag method.

“Containerize,” says Linda Rothschild, president of the National Association of Professional Organizers and owner of the New York City Company Cross It Off Your List. “It’s easy to lose things at the bottom of a big tote. If you containerize your essentials – wallet, keys, glasses, business cares, lipstick – in a little zip u bag inside the big bag, you can find them quickly.

There are two ways to organize. You can get a bag that has many c compartments, and then make sure that each compartment has an assigned purpose. Some messenger bags, for instance, have pockets for pens, cell phone, checkbook, or sunglasses. Use outside pockets for things you use most frequently, and inside ones for valuables like your wallet and checkbook.

The second way to containerize is to carry small bags in your large bag. You can keep makeup and elated items together, checkbook and wallet in another. See through container will make it easy to tell what’s what. They’ll also encourage you to keep things clean. Color-coding is another good idea. Carry a red wallet and a green makeup bag, for instance.

Try to organize with a system that suits your lifestyle. Congregate things you use together, say, your comb, makeup, hand cream, in one pocket, and your wallet, checkbook, and keys in another. If you only use your cell phone occasionally, it can go into the lease accessible pocket. If you need an ID card at work carry it in an outside pocket. If you’re always searching for change, keep it in a pocket that’s easy to reach. Keep receipts in one place, and then sort them out when you get home.

If you have children, containerize everything they’ll need – bottles, diapers, toys, and pacifiers – in one bag and your personal things in another. The kids’ things could be in a tote that you hang on the back of a stroller and your personal things in a backpack, leaving your arms free for picking up toddlers.

Finally, don’t let all those cute compartments and containers encourage you to carry more then you need. You don’t’ want to look like super-organized bag lady.