Thursday, October 1, 2015

3 Keys Thursday: Breaking Away from the Binder (1 Key, 3 Tools)

Photo: Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile
When it comes to organizing papers, there's really only one key to success: finding the right tool. For Type A organizers, this is easy: Break out the binders and the file folders. Secure appropriate labels and file behind closed drawers.

But for those of us who cram and jam, need to see things or know we put that paper somewhere, traditional systems don't always work. When I was working with elementary school kids whose paper toting needs were somewhat minimal, I discovered that accordion folders were a big help to those who struggled with binders and pocket folders.

Backpack folders from
Backpack folders, loadable from the top and meant to stand upright in a backpack were also a cool tool.

But what about grown-ups who manage piles of papers? Or even high school and college students who still need hard copies in an increasingly paperless world?

As an adult navigating the on-campus world on a part-time basis, I love my totefolio. Each section is big enough for a stack of handouts or graded papers, and wide enough that a file folder fits inside as well. I've labeled and re-labeled the tabs using the little card stock inserts as well as Post-it notes and sticky-back labels from my label maker. It's big enough to hold what I need, but not so big that it becomes unwieldy.

Globe-Weis tote folio from

For keeping papers in line at home, I like file bins with open tops, but if those files need to be transported as well, you might prefer a file tote. Its open top keeps things visible and makes it easy to put things away. They come in a variety of price points, too. The least expensive ones are glorified accordion folders with lids that flip over and close with a latch of some sort. Others come in decorator prints or even leather so that they look more like a handbag or briefcase.

If you haven't found your perfect paper organizer yet, don't despair. Many of the tools I use today didn't exist when I first started writing about organization. Make periodic trips to office supply stores, national chains, dollar stores, home decoration stores and fabric stores and see what's new. Check out the handbag section as well as the home section if a store has both, and investigate the areas of the store devoted to dorm life during the back-to-school months. Stores like Tuesday Morning, T J Maxx, Ross, Marshall's and Home Goods often stock unusual organizers that work for a variety of purposes.

Just remember to keep your purposes in mind when you're making your selection.

Vaultz Metal Personal File Tote from

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