The Art of Regrouping: 9 Tips for Backpack Organization

Weekends and light-homework weeknights offer great opportunities to reset your materials! By keeping an organized backpack, you can save yourself time and avoid stress throughout the week. Once you’ve neatly ordered your bag, materials become easier to find, assignments are less likely to get lost in a pit of crumpled papers, notes can be retrieved smoothly, and all your utensils and tools can be snatched up at a moment’s notice. For busy students navigating the chaos of a new semester, it can be hard to know where to begin. To provide some clarity, we’ve posted our backpack organization guide below:


  1. Identify a weekly time to organize

The first step toward a neat backpack is to commit yourself to 10–15 minutes per week dedicated to arranging your materials. Use a paper planner to schedule organizational time for a weekend afternoon or another patch of free time during the week. Remember this time management tip to make backpack organization a weekly habit!


  1. Eliminate unnecessary clutter

Be ruthless but not reckless when getting rid of old papers. At the beginning of your organizational block of time, dump all of your backpack’s contents on the table and remove anything you won’t need, such as outdated handouts, accumulated brochures, broken pencils, etc. Be careful not to toss any important study resources!


  1. Optional (but ideal): Create a binder for each class

The end goal is this: no loose papers in the dark, forgotten corners of your bag. By keeping a binder for each class, you can make sure that every useful handout and assignment has a secure spot from which you can easily retrieve it. To save space, a two-subject binder can be shared between two classes that don’t produce many paper materials. Please note: for students who don’t have time/space for a binder for each class, it is possible to combine classes, as long as each class has a dedicated set of dividers.

  1. Organize each binder

Not only should you have separate binders for each important class, but your binders should each be divided into 5 sections:notes, homework, handouts, tests/quizzes, and binder paper. If you or your teacher has a preferred system, feel free to modify these categories, but it’s important to keep distinct sections within each binder. While you organize your binders, recycle or remove any outdated papers that you won’t need in the coming weeks.


  1. Give your pens and pencils a home

Utensils dropped haphazardly into an ocean of papers and notebooks are likely to break or get lost. Use the front pouches of your bag to house your writing utensils and other tools. This increases the lifespan of your materials and allows you to more quickly find something to write with when it’s time to take notes or finish assignments. For extra neatness, use a pencil bag or a large zippered plastic storage bag to keep all your utensils together.

  1. Restock

In the fast-paced environment of school, it’s easy to run out of materials. Use the weekend to restock your binders with binder paper, your pencils with lead, and whatever else you need on a daily basis.


  1. Paper planner

Always make sure your paper planner has a comfortable spot toward the front of your backpack. It’s important to be able to pull out your planner at a moment’s notice both during class and at home while you’re checking your daily homework.


  1. Miscellaneous folders

If you receive a lot of materials that don’t belong in any of your academic binders, it’s helpful to keep an extra folder for loose papers such as fliers, extracurricular handouts such as sheet music and sports schedules, and any other non-academic papers. Make sure to empty out this folder at home at the end of every week to avoid overflow!


  1. Compartmentalize

If your backpack has multiple compartments, use these as a way to sort your materials by type. For example, binders and notebooks in the primary (biggest) pouch, tech devices and paper planner in the secondary compartment, and utensils in the front or side pouches.


The first time you organize your backpack, it might take up to an hour to work through all of the above steps. However, once you’ve established a steady habit of organization, backpack orderliness should take up only 10–15 minutes of your time on weekends. Use and repeat these regrouping tips to save yourself time and avoid stress throughout the school year!