work week

This Bag Organizer Turns My Tote Into a Laptop Bag

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

I’m not proud of it, but I’ve accepted that I’m not an especially neat person. I know that, left to my own devices, my everyday work tote quickly devolves into a black hole. Lip balm and pens disappear never to be see again, magazines and paperbacks emerge with creased covers and torn pages, and I always spend at least a minute or two per day on my doorstep digging for my keys. Sure, I could buy a sportier backpack or messenger bag with a compartment for every little thing — but I just really like the way my black Cuyana tote looks so sleek and streamlined, like I don’t need pockets at all.

Cuyana must understand the predicament because it now makes a removable tote organizer that the brand sent to me to try out — the organizer has a large side pocket that’ll fit a small laptop or book, a midsize pocket perfect for a tablet, a water-bottle-sized elastic sleeve, and a smaller pocket for grab-and-go necessities like chapstick and pens. There’s also an open middle for storing larger items and the little area outside of the organizer where it meets the actual bag, where a magazine or larger laptop naturally stays put.

Now, I can toss a sweater or makeup bag into my tote and know exactly where it is when I need it. I’m no longer fumbling for my reading material or reaching into the bag’s corners to fish out my ballpoint. The nice part is just having the option — if I’m bringing materials to work, the organizer houses everything neatly, but if I’m just packing some layers for a day trip, I can take the organizer out to make room for a sweater and scarf. Designed to fit in any of the brand’s totes, the insert lets you (or me) pretend to be a much more orderly person.

Cuyana Tote Organization Insert
$95 at Cuyana

More Strategist-approved purse organizers

Baggu Go Pouch Set
Photo: Kabir Fernandez/Kabir Fernandez
Baggu Go Pouch Set
$36 at Baggu

Our associate editor, Katy Schneider, battles the bag black hole with these nylon pouches from Baggu. “They are durable, not easily stained, and inexpensive,” she says. We like this set of pouches in coordinating sunset hues.

Baggu Go Pouch Set
Photo: kabir fernandez
Baggu Go Pouch Set
$36 at Baggu

Or this set in a fun constellation pattern.

Sonia Kashuk 2pc Makeup Organizer Set
$15 at Target

Actress, and Strategist columnist Wendi McLendon-Covey advised a reader to pick up several of these Sonia Kashuk pouches to keep a bag organized. “These flatter, foliolike ones are good for iPads or Kindles, and even passports when you’re traveling,” she says.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

This Bag Organizer Turns My Tote Into a Laptop Bag