Six and a Half Pounds

6 and a half pounds.
That’s how much the average handbag weighs.  And that doesn’t include a lap top.
6.5 pounds look like:
  • A Mr. Coffee 12-cup Coffeemaker;  bag
  • 6 1/2 bottles of water;
  • A pair of men’s size 10 hiking boots;
  • A two liter bottle of soda (from answers.com);
  • 67 hershey bars;
  • 520 pencils;
  • 1170 pennies; or
  • a 5 pound bag of sugar and a pound of butter.
And we’re schlepping that around on our shoulder every day.  (Fellas, don’t think I am not talking to you today.  I see those messenger bags you haul around, and the bulging wallet with receipts, store cards and ancient business cards but no actual cash.)

I saw a woman walking to her car today with 4 – count them 4! – bags on her shoulder.  She still looked confident and awesome doing it, too.  If I had to guess, she had a bag for the gym, a healthy lunch, a great handbag and a tote for work.  She was doing it all, and doing it well, but she could make her load lighter, in every way!

I’m suggesting that we all carry around a lot more than we need, and our joints and backs and shoulders often pay the price.  My challenge to you this week is to lighten your load, and clear the clutter out of your bags!

Here’s how:

  • Clear off a counter, or your dining table.  Dump the contents of your handbag / back back / messenger bag / gym bag out completely.
  • Now, tackle this project just like any other organizing project (per Julie Morgenstern), with our usual 5 step process:
  1. Sort: Sort the contents by category.  Receipts, dirty tissues, cosmetics, pens / pencils / paper clips / notebooks, novels, ear buds, money including 7.50 in loose change, unopened and opened mail, work papers… well, you get the picture.
  2. Purge: Now that you can see what you have, purge the clutter that can go.  Toss the trash, file or shred the mail and receipts, keep a few pencils and one notebook, put the change in a jar for later and get rid of any other clutter.
  3. Assign a Home:  Once you have established what stuff you need to carry with you, determine how you can store it better.  In my bag, I have: a first aid kit / cosmetics bag (yes, a first aid kit because I am a terrible klutz); my wallet which has a wrist strap and I can carry solo with my cards, receipts, cash and change; a few pens and index cards, sunglasses, some lotion and antibacterial hand cleaner; and an envelope with store coupons for when I run my errands.  The whole thing weighs a couple pounds.
  4. Containerize: A handbag or back pack is a container itself, but we do better with sub categories in smaller containers in our bags.  Try a pencil case (just like in school), a cosmetic bag or small bag for personal items, or an envelope for receipts.
  5. Equalize: A fancy word for Maintenance.  Once you have cleared bag clutter, keep it from coming back!
    1. Bigger bags versus Smaller Bags:  I’ve used this logic at times – instead of two or three bags, why don’t I just use one really big bag to carry everything?  Well, of course the problem with that is that we end up carrying around everything all the time in one really heavy bag, instead of just what we need! So Go for the SMALLER BAG!
    2. Receipts are a challenge: provide temporary storage, and a process for getting them out of your handbag and on to their final destination.
    3. Clean out your bag regularly (I have to admit, I use waiting-for-kids-at-practice time to clean out my bag if it needs cleaning).
    4. Unpack your extra bag.  I don’t always carry a tote, but when I do, I empty it out every day and put today’s business away.  If I need the tote again tomorrow, I will only put in it the business I need for the day.
So, carve out 20 minutes this week and lighten your load in all sorts of ways!

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