One of the top tools in my organizing arsenal are plastic envelopes also known as poly envelopes. I think these are a very underrated organizing product, and I'm excited to show you how I use them.
If you're a video person, go ahead and click right here to watch the video where I show how I use these plastic envelopes for organizing.
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Where to Buy Plastic Envelopes for Organizing
The plastic envelopes I use come in two different sizes. The small ones are 9.5 by 7 inches which is the perfect size for coupons or index cards. The large ones are 13 by 9.5 inches which easily holds regular size sheets of paper.
I get my plastic envelopes here from The Container Store. They are on the splurgy side, but I have tried cheaper ones from the Dollar Tree, and I just ordered some really affordable plastic envelopes on Amazon. I will be back with an update as soon as I try them out. In general, I have found that budget versions are much thinner and can tear. Therefore, I probably wouldn't trust them to toss into a bag, but they would probably be fine for general use.
Where to Store Plastic Envelopes for Organizing
The other important thing to think about is where to store your plastic envelopes. They work great inside a large purse or bag or in a drawer or in the car. However, if you want to treat them like files, I highly recommend putting them in a multipurpose bin. The ones you see here are the extra large bins and so the envelopes fit across nicely. If, however, you want to use a smaller multipurpose bin, you will need to stand the envelopes on their side which works just fine.
You may notice the somewhat random looking coffee mug there in the front, but it does actually serve an important purpose. When storing the envelopes in the extra large bin, they tend to slouch down quite a bit, so you need something in the front to keep them upright. The alternative would be to have enough poly envelopes to thoroughly fill all the space.
What You Can Organize with Plastic Envelopes
I organize so many things with these poly envelopes. Here's just a few ideas:
- Organize loose coloring sheets. My kids are always asking me to print coloring sheets out for them, so I store a few in each envelope with their name or the topic of the coloring sheet.
- Organize kid's artwork. This is a great way to organize artwork or school work. You could have one envelope for each year or each month.
- Organize annual tax returns and documents. I store each year of tax documents in one of these plastic envelopes. I prefer this to a file folder, because it's so easy to grab out, and I can also easily take it to a meeting with my accountant if needed.
- Organize small kids activities. You can easily store small kids craft supplies, a pair of kids scissors, and a few crayons or markers in one of these. Keep them by the door ready to grab when you're going somewhere with a child who will need to wait quietly.
- Organize road trip activities. You could even label one for each hour of the trip or each landmark.
- Organize anything you would normally file. These are a great alternative to traditional file folders.
- Organize coupons. Most coupons fit perfectly in a small plastic envelope, and you can easily toss them in your purse or keep them in the glove box.
- Organize flash cards or index cards. Organize these by subject.
- Organize Chalk Couture transfers. I keep all my chalk transfers in these plastic envelopes. I tried various methods of organizing these, and this is by far my favorite. I cut them up and put each transfer set in one envelope. Only a few of the really large transfers don't fit and I store those elsewhere.
How to Label Plastic Envelopes
I've tried various methods of labeling these plastic envelopes, but I've found the simplest to be the best. I tried post it notes sticking up, but I felt like they got bent too easily. I also tried Avery stick on tabs, and that worked fine but sometimes it was hard to fit the words on one tab. Also, I felt like I had to put the envelope back in the right spot so the tabs would be staggered properly. That was a bit of a pain.
So the best method was simply using my Dymo label maker and placing the labels on the top right. I prefer using the purple label tape instead of clear because it's much easier to read at a glance.
I hope this has given you some good organizing ideas. Let me know in the comments what you would use these for, and go ahead and pin this post for later:
Organization that actually sticks for busy, happy lives.