Binders: Great Organizational Tool or More Work Than They Are Worth?

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the binder as an organizational tool. My binders tended to have torn front pockets due to the pressure of all the papers waiting to be hole-punched and the rings would stop snapping shut due to the bulk of paper I was trying to store. Inevitably,  I would end up with an exploded mess on my floor.  However, when I was able use a binder productively, such as when I made one to hold all the brochures, clippings, and contracts I collected while planning my wedding, I wondered why I didn’t use them more in my life. So here is a quick tool to help you figure out if binders would benefit your life and help you become more organized. 

If you can describe yourself as someone who

  • Doesn’t mind hole-punching paper or working with document sleeves
  • Still loves tearing out magazine/newspaper clippings or printing out information from the computer
  • Wants quick access to information without needing internet access or booting up a computer

then you can benefit from using a binder.

The best stuff to put in a binder is information you need 

  • To reference often such as contact lists, recipes, checklists, instruction manuals, class materials, etc.
  • To keep portable such as medical records, family emergency info, wedding planning materials, etc.
  • To best access visually such as magazine clippings, exercise routines, comics, etc.

You should not use a binder as an organization tool

  • To store papers you will never look at again (even if it arrived to you already 3-hole punched) 
  • When the effort to put a paper in a binder is more work than dropping it into a folder
  • You keep most of your records electronically (or would like to move in that direction)

Binders are great organization tools in the right situations. Like any tool, it is not the be all, end all tool that will make you more organized overnight. So if you have a series of binders but the stack of papers to be put inside resembles a small mountain, ask yourself what is keeping you from using those binders more effectively. You can either finally ditch the binders or find a friend who loves putting together binders and barter for their time to get you back on track. 

Do you love binders? What is your favorite way to use them?

Image: Ladyheart/

About Gabriela Burgman

Gabriela's mission is to empower her clients with the tools and motivation they need to get and stay organized. Prior to becoming a Professional Organizer, Gabriela worked in a photograph archive as well as several university archives, assisting offices, administrators, and retiring academics to sort through their files for preservation or disposal. She became a professional organizer in 2007 working as an independent consultant before joining Living Peace. When Gabriela is not learning new ways to organize photos or paper both physically and electronically, she is spending time on what matters most to her: visiting with family and friends, reading a good mystery book, or cooking a tasty meal.

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