If you have read my recommendations for the best work bags, you know I am a fan of tote bags. In fact, my own everyday bag for the past 2+ years is the Everlane Market Day Tote. But you need a method to organize tote bags if you intend to use them for work.
I love tote bags for work both because of their aesthetics and functionality.
Aesthetically, they tend to have a very clean and professional look.
Functionally, I enjoy that I can customize my organization with a tote bag.
Tote bags tend to also be larger, which I appreciate considering my work items tend to be larger (e.g. laptop).
So what are my tips to organize tote bags for work?
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1. Use a tote bag organizer
A tote bag organizer is the first, basic item you will need to create an organization system for your tote bag.
It’s a great item in that it allows you to quickly transfer all of your items from one tote bag to another.
It also prevents everything from flying around at the bottom of your bag, which is usually the biggest complaint about tote bags.
Since tote bags tend not to have a zipper for the main compartment, I like to use an organizer with a secured pocket to store my wallet and phone.
I also like a tote bag organizer that includes large compartments, not just small pockets.
I use smaller cases (as you will see below) to store things like toiletries and cables, so I need my tote bag organizer to have larger pockets to accommodate these.
Then I use the small pockets in the organizer for things like hand sanitizer, tissues, static remover, and a small umbrella.
Check out my work bag essentials if you are curious about what I carry in my bag.
This tote bag organizer is great. It checks off my needs with the zipped pocket and two large main compartments.
It also comes in a variety of sizes, to fit any tote bag, as well as a variety of colors.
2. Store small items in clear cases
As I mentioned above, in addition to the tote bag organizer I like to use clear small cases for my small items.
Clear cases allow me to quickly see what is inside.
I carry two clear cases:
So, I use these clear cases from Amazon.
They are a good size, easy to clean, and waterproof (in case something in my cosmetic case spills).
3. Organize your cords
I carry a few cords in my bag, including my laptop charger and phone charger. I also occasionally carry my Kindle charger.
We all know how unruly charging cords can become.
So that is why I like to use cord organizers.
There are two, in particular, I have used and enjoy.
These hook and loop ones I like for larger cords like my laptop charger. They are very secure and keep my cords wrapped nicely.
For smaller cords, I also like these magnetic cord organizers. They are a bit easier to unhook than the hook and loop ones but they are also not quite as secure.
That is okay for items like wired headphones. But they wouldn’t work for larger cords.
4. Use a key lanyard with a clip
There is nothing worse than fishing for your keys at the bottom of a tote bag.
The tote bag organizer I recommended above had a clip for keys attached to it. Frankly, I don’t use it since it is attached to the organizer.
Instead, I loop a lanyard around one of the handles of the tote bag. I use this to clip my keys to when they are in my bag.
It is very convenient because I never have to look for the lanyard.
I can easily grab it from the handle, pull, and voila!
Keys in hand.
5. Get a small wallet
I, personally, am not a fan of big wallets. Large items are always harder to organize.
These days, we don’t really need to carry much in our wallets.
An ID, a few cards, and maybe a few bills of cash (just in case).
A small, thin wallet is easy to store. I keep it in the pocket with a zipper in the tote bag organizer, just for a little extra security.
The past couple years I have been using the Bellroy Pocket Mini.
I bought my husband a Bellroy wallet first, since he loves slim wallets. I liked his so much that I bought myself one.
It's an investment, but I love it.
It has held up really well and has (surprisingly) also stayed very clean for a white wallet. The leather is easy to clean when it does get a bit dirty.
I carry around 8-10 cards or so in it between credit cards, gift cards, ID, and insurance cards.
6. Store pens in a hard case
I use a small case to store my pens.
Otherwise, they are bound to end up swimming at the bottom of my bag.
I prefer a hard case for my pens that is slim.
This way it still takes up minimal space but is very easy to find.
7. Keep your laptop in a sleeve
A sleeve for your laptop is a must have if you are using a tote bag.
Your laptop is more likely to at some point fall out of your bag if you are using a tote since there is no zipper for the main compartment.
A sleeve will protect your laptop when this happens.
I keep the laptop, stored in the sleeve, on one side of my tote outside of the organizer.
8. Clean your bag out at least monthly
At the end of the day, we are all human.
Your bag will eventually get messy and disorganized, especially if you live a busy and hectic life.
So just take the time, at least every month, to do a quick clean up of your bag. Or, if you change up your tote bags that would be a perfect time to do a quick clean up as well.
Remove items that you no longer use regularly. Wipe down your cases and organizers.
This will optimize all of the items you are using, allowing you to keep everything organized long-term.
So those are my tips to organize tote bags for work!
Do you have any tote bag organization hacks? Let me know below!