Sometime about a month or two into the school year/new job/new project, something happens and the binder that was such a joy to set up and organize degenerates into a bloated, unholy mess. Right when you need to be organized the most--say, a week before midterms or before a big presentation at work--your system completely breaks down. What the heck?!??
It's one thing to set up a binder and get it organized; keepingit organized is altogether a different matter. In my experience, the cause of a BSF (Binder System Failure) almost always comes down to one thing: lack of an adequate archiving.
Here's the key thing to understand: your current school or project binder is not intended to be the final destination for paperwork. It's role is not be your archive but to be your aide. It's a place to gather relevant notes and data for what you're currently working on or studying. This means that once a particular phase of a project has passed, once a particular assignment or paper has been completed, or once you've been tested on certain material, the assorted paperwork you collected for it needs to be reviewed and either tossed or filed for future reference.
"Wait a minute!" I can just hear legions (well, maybe more like dozens; okay, more like one or two) of you saying. "I can't throw those notes/that quiz/the feedback from the team away! I'm going to need that stuff later!" But archiving material doesn't mean making it inaccessible; it just means it's put away, which in turn makes it more accessible, in that it's easier to find.
As I mentioned in the recent post on taking notes, when I was going to design school, I developed the habit of typing my notes on a laptop and printing them out that evening, in order to review then and highlight the main points. I'd then punch the notes and any other handouts or materials I'd received that day, and put everything in my binder according by type (i.e. quizzes-with-quizzes, notes-with-notes, etc.) with the most recent material on top. Once I completed a paper, a project or other assignment, or once I took a quiz or test, I removed the associated materials from my binder and put it in a file, simple as that. If I found I needed the materials again for related projects or for finals, they were easy to find and I just put them back in the binder as needed.
Sometimes you start out with one binder and realize there's no way you're going to be able to keep to just one: the project is too big and there are too many current and relevant documents to fit in. You can either get another binder and move over some of the material in the first to the second, i.e. if you have one binder for all of your projects or classes, you might choose to get a second binder and split things up. Alternatively, you could keep your binder intact and start a new binder afresh for a second phase of a project or for use after midterms. You'll find that with whatever method you choose, the time you spend organizing your binder actually works as a kind of mini-review and will help keep you prepared, up-to-date, and current on the subject at hand.