Blog, Minimalism

How to declutter your handbag

declutter your handbag

Because it’s officially spring now, I decided to take the spring cleaning one step further and venture into the dark recesses of my handbag…

I think my handbag is coming up to it’s 14th year in my possession and it’s pretty much as good as new, the leather just a little worn, the handles just a little dirty. It’s soft, supple, and has just as many compartments as is useful. It’s the right size to shove documents in, chuck change into the bottom, and is small enough not to be heavy even when full of rubbish. I love it and it definitely deserves a clean out. Here are 5 small tips to streamlining your bag.

Step 1: Tip everything out

Find a clear surface and tip everything out of your bag. Undo all of your zips, pockets and compartments. Open the bin and pull the lining inside out-I guarantee there’ll be more dust and crumbs then you imagined. Don’t put anything back in! If it needs a wipe or a sponge down, do this now then put the bag to one side and focus on the pile in front of you.

Step 2: Sort through the pile

In my bag I had loyalty cards, train timetables, receipts, more receipts, vouchers, hair bands, more lipsticks than I’ve ever worn in my life, a phone charger, lipbalm, even more receipts, even more loyalty cards, business cards, a pile of change, and even an apple I’d forgotten about.

I ate the apple whilst contemplating the rest of the stuff. Luckily it was still crunchy.

Divide your pile of stuff up into essentials, recycling, and unknown. Be focused…if you haven’t used it in the last few weeks, it’s not essential. If you’re saving receipts just in case…recycle them. And loyalty cards? Well, read on.

Step 3: The curse of loyalty cards

I thought that I’d no longer need any of the multiple plastic points cards I was carrying round. Surely everywhere has an app now, right? Well, surprisingly, hardly anywhere does. Of my 20+ cards, only 3 had an app whereby I could get rid of the card. Sadly, out of those 3 companies, none of the apps would let me register my card number. So what was I to do?

I got harsh. If I didn’t know what rewards I got, the card went. If I hadn’t used it in the last 2 months, the card went. I then fired off a couple of tweets to the companies asking how to register. I’m still waiting for a response. Hopefully I’ll be able to sort them out and declutter my cards even more.
I managed to get the number of loyalty cards I have down to 8. Not too bad.

The best thing I discovered was an app where you can scan all of the business cards you inevitably collect, being self-employed. I cleared out my entire Filofax and managed to recycle a whole pile of cards, which are now digitised in my phone contacts. Awesome. The app is free and is called CamCard. I love it.

Step 4: The ‘just in case’ items

Decide what is really essential for you to carry around with you. In my case, 4 lipsticks certainly weren’t. 2 of them were definitely suspiciously old, too. I removed the bullet, recycled the plastic parts, and got rid. I put the rest back with my make-up.

Think about things you can digitise. After all, we carry our phones around with us most of the time. Paper timetables, tickets and the like can easily be downloaded onto our phones, reducing the need to carry things around.

Step 5: Put only the essentials back in your bag

I decided all I really needed would be my wallet, my phone and my keys. So I put these back in the bag. Everything else I had to choose whether I needed it, or just wanted it. The key is to keep focused-don’t save anything to deal with later. Chances are the items will still be lurking in the bottom of your bag a few months later! Deal with everything, one thing at a time.

The benefits of cleaning out your handbag may seem small but really, it’s not a, insignificant difference. I felt lighter and more focused. I wasn’t bothered by stray crumbs and fluff, and I was 31p richer too…

As a minimalist it’s easy to focus on the big things in life. Cluttered cupboards, clear surfaces. Big wardrobes and bare walls. But the little things can all add up and having an organised, clear handbag can be just the beginning. Keep it clear and question everything you put in, day by day. After all, it’s one of our most personal possessions.



4 thoughts on “How to declutter your handbag

  1. A few years ago I decluttered my handbag. Stop. Handbags. I realised I was carrying around too much “just in case” and why on earth did I need to amuse my friend by having a handbag collection anyway?! I remembered being a teenager with my bus pass in my back pocket and a key and some change in my front pocket…
    As you found, there are a few essentials as a grown-up so I found a cute but tiny bag and began to carry that, instead. I even decluttered my purse because my tiny bag had two zip compartments that were perfectly adequate (and I do carry 2-3 currencies around with me regularly!). When the bag needed replacing, I went for a super-simple leather bag, again smaller than most women have, but found I needed a purse again with this one. A zipped key-chain pouch is my tiny purse, now. The cards slip into a pocket inside the bag. My phone, a pen and a nail file, along with a lip balm are pretty much all that are permanent in the bag these days… 🙂

  2. And whatever you can’t download to your phone, take a photo of! It works wonders. I add them to my evernote and I never have to worry about forgetting any information. Even receipts, if you are one to save receipts and you don’t need originals, take a photo and delete at your leisure.

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