In this organization video I show you tips on how to get organized for back to school by setting up your binder and notes in two ways: 1) in a traditional 3-ring school binder or 2) a non-traditional binder without rings (more like an accordion organizer).

School Supplies Shown:

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Video Details

Hi everyone. It’s Alejandra. And in this video, I’m going to share with you two ways to set up your school binder. The first way is a more traditional way with a three-ring binder. And the second way is for students or people who don’t like to use three-ring binders like papers never end up in the binder because it requires putting holes in it and they end up everywhere but the binder.

So anyways, it’s going to make sense once I show you. So let me grab the binders and show you exactly what I’m talking about.

Binder Organizing Ideas, Tips & Tricks

Option number one is a traditional three-ring binder just like this. So this is the Better Binder from Staples. It’s the binder that I always talk about that I absolutely love. I love the quality, the color selection, the style, just everything about it. I’ll show you inside what I love about it the most.

How to Organize Your Binder

How to Organize Your Binder

But this is the outside. So this is a one-inch binder and this is actually a brand new one-inch binder. It’s the one with the expandable spine. So a traditional one-inch binder only hold 275 pieces of paper but now with the expandable spine, it holds 375 sheets of paper. So 100 more so it’s just awesome.

Labeling Your Binder

So in the very front cover, what I did was I stuck scrapbook paper inside to kind of personalize the cover, add a popup color, and stuff. So yeah, I did that and then I did the same thing on the spine on the side. I cut out a piece for the window and then I took my label maker and I put my name on top of it. You can put whatever you want there. I just put my name.

And then on the cover right here, I just took a 4 x 6 piece of photo – what’s it called? It’s like a 4 x 6 photo poly envelope, I’m not sure. And I just stuck it on top of the binder. I used double-sided Scotch Tape just like this and I stuck it on the back to hold it in place. And then what I’m doing here is putting the school schedule inside.

I don’t know what high schools or middle schools do now but when I was in high school, they mailed you a 4 x 6 note card with your school schedule for the year. And I used to always just put it inside of the pocket right here on the front but then it would always slide around. So I figured if I put it inside this envelope, it won’t move.

Organizing Binder Papers

That’s the outside. Let me show you the inside. All right. So the cool thing about this brand new Better Binder with the expandable spine is it also has this built-in poly pocket envelope built into the front cover of the binder. So traditional binders, they just have like that half poly envelope – it’s not even a poly envelope but it’s just a pocket right here where you stick the pieces of paper.

Use a Binder with  a Builtin Envelope for Added Storage & Organization

Use a Binder with a Built-in Envelope for Added Storage & Organization

But with this one, it just comes built-in so it’s kind of cool. And then it has a little bungee to open and close it. So what I would do and what I used to do in high school is I would store all the pieces of paper that never came with holes. So you know like teachers sometimes hand out assignments and they’re not hole-punched? I used to hate when they do that. So I’d always stick the paper in the very front cover and then when I got home or got access to a hole puncher, I would punch them and then put the pieces of paper in the appropriate section in the dividers. So that’s one thing you could do.

You could put like a notebook in here or you could put maybe like some light school supplies like a notepad or I’m not sure but that’s just a cool thing about the binder.

The best thing about the Better Binder is how the rings are on the back spine. They’re not actually on the center spine. So when you see binders with like rings on the center spine, it’s kind of annoying because every time you open and close the binder, the papers are always moving. So the fact that the spines are on the back cover is really nice about the Better Binder.

I keep all my lined paper in the very front of the binder, along with some colored lined paper that I found from Target that I thought was really fun. I’m guessing you probably cannot turn in assignments or homework on colored paper. Your teacher probably would not accept that. But when I was in high school, we always wrote notes to each other. I don’t know if students still do that. But if I had a colored paper back then, it would have been so much fun to write your friends a note on colored paper. So I don’t know. I thought that would be fun.

And then you can also take your own personal notes that you aren’t turning in on colored paper and kind of color-code them if that helps you with studying or just taking notes in general.

Binder Dividers

So these dividers, these are my favorite dividers. They are Avery – these are the 5-tab dividers. Avery makes 5-tab, 8-tab, 12-tab, 15-tab, 31-tab, A-Z-tab, and monthly tabs. And they’re all color-coded with like really pretty colors and they all have this really nice table of contents pages in the very front where you can just label each section just like that. I just did that with my label maker.

Use Binder Dividers to Keep you Binder Organized

Use Binder Dividers to Keep you Binder Organized

One really good tip is – so I always reuse my dividers like I change my binders like if I don’t need a binder anymore, I’ll change it but I’ll save the dividers. So one thing I always do is I make a copy of the cover page so I could have a blank cover page if I ever reuse the dividers. So before I label – put my labels on, I’ll just copy this page with the copier in my printer so I have a backup of one of these when it comes time to reuse the dividers or you could just like stick a label on top.

But sometimes if the label doesn’t match up perfectly then it doesn’t look very nice or I don’t know, it doesn’t look very nice. Maybe that’s a perfectionist thing. But anyways, that’s what I do. So I love these dividers.

Another set of dividers that I really like that’s great for school binders is this poly pocket dividers. The only come in 5-tab. These are from – I think they’re from Office Depot, maybe Staples. I’m not sure. I’ll have to look it up. But they have this nice poly envelope pocket in the very front so you could stick papers in here like smaller papers or papers that don’t have holes yet or other pieces of papers, smaller ones inside the pocket. So that’s really cool about that and they’re color-coded also.

Bonus Binder Organizing Tips

Binder Organizing Tip: Store Notebooks in Binder Pockets

Binder Organizing Tip: Store Notebooks in Binder Pockets

In the back of my binder, I have a gusseted binder pocket that I showed in my warranties and manual binder. It’s basically a poly envelope pocket that has holes to it goes in the binder and it has a little Velcro clasp just like that. And somebody on my Facebook page had commented and said, I think she was a teacher, she said that one cool way to use this in the binder is to put your composition notebook inside just like that so you can always carry in your binder and it’s not going to fall out. So I thought that was a really cool tip. So yes, so now it’s not going to fall out.

And then on the back of the binder, so I don’t know if students still do this but when I was in high school and middle school, we always wrote notes to each other, slipped it in the locker and stuff. And in middle school, we collected them. It was like fun to collect all your notes. So I thought something cool would be to get one of these poly envelope pockets. This is like full of poly envelope pockets but get another one, a smaller one and attach it to the very back of your binder and so you could just put all the notes that you collect. I don’t know if collecting is a good word. But all the notes that you get like every week or whatever.

And so, this is actually an adhesive poly envelope. But the adhesive do not adhere well to this vinyl backing so all I did was use a double-sided mounting tape just like this. I got this from Home Depot. You can get it at Target also. And I put it back here on the back of this envelope and then attach it to the binder and now it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s totally secure so yeah. And you could do another one up here if you really wanted to or you could just add another one of these gusseted binder pockets to the very back and put all your notes in there. So there are just a lot of cool options.

Pencil Case

So that is how you set up binder number one. Now, along with this binder is a pencil case. Now, when I was in high school, I never kept – well, I don’t want to say never but keeping your pencil case inside your binder can make it kind of bulky. Like if I put this in here, it would kind of constrict how many papers I could stick in the binder. And then when I close it, it’s not going to close – well, that closes OK. But once I add more papers, it’s going to be too bulky. So you could just keep this separate inside your backpack. But let me just show you what is inside of the pencil case.

Binders Without Rings

So this is binder option number two for people who don’t necessarily like traditional binders, maybe you don’t like the rings or papers just never end up in the rings, may end up like everywhere else but the binder. And this might be a solution for you. So it looks like a binder but it does not have rings. It’s kind of cool. It’s kind of hard to find. And yeah, let me just show you what it looks like.

Have Trouble Organizing Papers in Your Binder? Try a Ringless Binder!

Have Trouble Organizing Papers in Your Binder? Try a Ringless Binder!

It has this little elastic bungee cords that are attached so all you do is you just take them off. It has got this cool table of contents in the very front that it just like peels, like it just pulls out from underneath and you can just take it out and label it. It comes with three different sheets so you can label it three different times. But yeah, so if you were looking for like something in your history section, you would just go to red and all the papers are just right here.

There’s no ring in the way or anything. Everything just kind of gets like shoved inside just like that. So it’s great for people who don’t want to mess with rings and like the papers don’t fall out either. So you just close it. You could shake it this way, shake it this way, shake it this way, and nothing falls out.

Now, I don’t know how many pieces of paper it holds. It probably holds – I don’t know. I’m not going to guess. It holds a good amount so you could use it for like your main binder. It might be kind of small. Maybe it’s like your notes binder or your homework binder or something like that. But this is a cool option and I just added a sticker on top to kind of personalize it a bit.

And this is the 10-tab binder. It also comes in 5 or 6 tabs so if you don’t need as many categories, you could get the smaller one. And I think that’s everything I want to say about it. But it just kind of cool how it doesn’t have rings. It’s just another option.

OK. So I hope this video was helpful. So again, you can do option one, a traditional binder or option two, a nontraditional binder. Either way, I will put links to all of the products I showed you in this video below in the description and you can check it out. And if you want more back to school organizing tips, you can watch my other school-related videos or you could check out my website at Alejandra.TV. And I will see you soon. Bye!

About Alejandra

About Alejandra

Since 2008, organizing expert & certified life coach, Alejandra Costello has taught thousands of students in 132 countries how to get organized through her video-based training programs. Her YouTube videos have been viewed 100+ million times. Named 1 of the 5 most organized people in America by HGTV and “The Decluttering Queen” by Good Morning America, Alejandra’s expertise has been featured in The New York Times,, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Parents Magazine, and CBS. 


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