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How a Simple Bag Became a Magic Organizational Tool

How a Simple Bag Became a Magic Organizational Tool

    Have you ever showed up at a meeting and realized you forgot to bring the right paperwork? Or nipped out to the library only to realize one of your overdue books is still sitting at home?

    There is a simple way to end this confusion: Tote Bag Organizing.

    It’s a fancy name I made up to describe how I keep papers for separate activities together so that I always have what I need by grabbing the appropriate box or bag.

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    How It Started

    A few years ago, all the charities I subscribe to started sending me tote bags. While some of them were converted into reusable shopping bags, I had a few that weren’t suitable. I threw the papers for a Girl Scout meeting into one and forgot to unpack it…and realized how handy it was to have everything together.

    I was no longer scrambling before the meeting to make sure I had everything; and when I needed paperwork that was handed out at the last meeting I knew exactly where to look.

    Does It Have To Be A Tote Bag?

    No, you can use whatever container or other organizational tool best suits your contents. In some cases it might be better to have a smaller or larger container.

    For example, I have started assuming the primary leader role for our Girl Scout troop in preparation for next fall. This means I have to lug supplies back and forth; so a banker’s box takes care of that. Inside will be a plastic folder for our paperwork that I can remove and take as a single unit when we go on a field trip.

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    For a meeting I attend monthly where I need a notebook and pen and a place to keep papers that need to be returned, I use a poly envelope with a closure.

    I also routinely use poly binder dividers with pockets to keep papers together for short-term projects. These live in a container on my desk and get put into the activity bag as needed. An example: the reservation sheets, requirements and meeting information for the Bridging ceremony that will take my troop from Brownies to Juniors.

    How Do You Put This Together?

    It is easy to put these modules together.

    1. Gather everything you would need for the activity.
    2. Put it in a designated container.
    3. Add a writing tool and a notebook or paper.
    4. Subdivide as necessary. (see below)

    How To Make It Work

    After you set up the tote bag, take it to your activity. When you come home again, remove anything that has to be dealt with. Take care of these items and put things back in the bag that will be needed for the next time.

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    If something should come up during the week, make a note and slip it into the bag. If you receive mail that is relevant, put it in the bag.

    Before your next venture to your activity, add what you need, such as books or paperwork.

    Sub-divide as necessary. For activities where you may not need everything all the time, have a way to quickly remove those items. For example, my Girl Scout paperwork, which is required whenever we take an off-site trip, is in a separate pouch so that I can take just that when we go on a field trip.

    If you need to do something with that activity at home, work out of the tote bag, and keep everything together.

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    Various Uses of Tote Bag Activity Modules

    • For my treasurer gig with a local non-profit, I keep a folder for papers, the checkbook and spare supplies in a sturdy bag and add the books we talk about at our weekly meeting.
    • For my Girl Scout papers, I have an old briefcase to keep all the papers in order, along with a package of crayons, extra paper and spare pencils.
    • For my Girl Scout Leader meeting papers, I have a binder pencil pouch that has a notebook inside, a pen, and our tracking slips.
    • For the library, I keep a bag with books and batteries to be recycled (our library accepts these). When a book is not being read, it lives in the bag.
    • For choir we have a small bag with our folders, extra pencils and facial tissues.
    • For the class I am taking, I have my notebook, and the text book stays inside of the bag, but may be removed before class if I know I won’t have to use it.

    Using these tote bags has kept me on track. I always have what I need right at my fingertips, and I haven’t forgotten to return a library book for months.

    Do you have a great way to organize activity items? Share below.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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