|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. Everything was pretty close together, yet it could be categorized as well. And accordion folders were just more fun than binders. So were report folders and small binders with clamps or clips instead of rings. The same kids who loved taking apart mechanical pencils loved messing with the clamps, which gave them motivation to actually put things away.
|Backpack folders from staples.com|
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, and the handles are a BIG help.
|Globe-Weis tote folio from staples.co|
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, chain stores, dollar stores, home decoration stores and fabric stores and see what's new. Get creative -- just because it wasn't originally meant for the purpose you have in mind doesn't mean you can't make it work.
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, and don't be afraid to step out of the (file) box.
|Vaultz Metal Personal File Tote from staples.com|