Binders always kind of reminds me of a innocent version of a curse word. Like saying "Oh binders" instead of I'm not sure what. Anyway . . .
In an effort to simplify my busy life, I've gone to a binder and file crate system to keep track of our days and the things we do. My file crate system is similar to the file crate system here, although I use it slightly differently. I have a little file basket in my kitchen and I put the monthly bills and the weekly file folder in the basket. During the week, I put anything that I need/want to do for the following week in the file folder, and then on my planning day, I look through it, and put anything necessary in my calendar or file it or fill out and mail the form or whatever. At the ending of the planning session, I move the folder downstairs in the file crate, and I put in the next week's folder in the upstairs file basket. I also have a folder for each season in its own hanging folder and I put seasonal ideas as I see them in that folder and review them every month or so. I'm also not nearly as crafty as Dawn, so I don't have as many craft projects in my weekly folders, although I have a fair amount of crafts in my seasonal folders (because you just can't celebrate Spring or Advent or whatever without a craft or two!)
My binders. I probably have too many, but I'm keeping what I have until I feel that a particular binder isn't being used effectively. The binders are 1/2 inch presentation binders. I've looked around at office supply stores, Walgreens, and discount stores, and I've found that in my area, buying an 8 pack or a 12 pack at Sam's Club is the most cost effective. I have three groups of binders - my home management binders, my provident living binders, and my Schooling binders. I also have three file crates - one to hold my weekly and seasonal folders, one for my home management binders, and one for my provident living binders. I use a label maker to label the spine of the binder, and I usually use some of my pretty scrapbook paper that I'm not currently using for anything else on the front as well as the title. In this post, I'll talk about my home management binders.
The first binder is my Planning Notebook and I store it in my tote bag. In this binder, there is my monthly calendar, schedules, seasonal activities, and my daily journal. I don't use my daily journal in a traditional way. I record what we did that day, errands I need to run on Town Day, quotes that I like, etc.
The next home management binder is my Faith Notebook and I store it in my church bag. This binder contains church magazines, church membership list, brochures, handouts, talks, etc.
The third binder is the Phone Notebook and it is stored in the phone book drawer. This is where I store class rosters, take-out phone numbers, club directories, emergency phone numbers, etc. I also store a few blank pages for writing name and numbers, and on a monthly basis, I decide if they need to be added to the permaenent list.
The Family Notebook is stored in a file crate. Ths binder contains information about family members such as a personal information page for each family member, clothing amounts and sizes for each child, master occassions (birthdays, anniversairies) for immediate and extended family, list of movies to watch and books to read, library information, etc.
The Housekeeping Notebook is stored in the kitchen. This binder holds information about cleaning, decorating and organizing your home. My housekeeping binder contains chore checklists, daily cleaning schedules & daily routines, organizational ideas, how to clean each room, deep cleaning list, home inventory, and home storage inventory.
The Food Management Notebook is also stored in the kitchen. This binder helps plan meals, create menus, and track inventory in pantry and freezer. I have a master list of the food that we use and the amounts I want to have on hand, and then a list that has the items listed but the quantity area is blank, and I look at the pantry before I shop and enter how many of each item that I need to purchase. I put the weekly grocery flyer for the two grocery stores that I shop at regularly. It also includes my monthly menu plan, lists of what foods are in season for each season, which foods are the best to buy organic, etc.
The next binder is the Money and Finance Notebook. It is stored in the file crate. The following items are included in this binder: monthly/yearly budget, credit card list, insurance information, utilities directory, warranty information, verhicle information, etc.
The Health and Fitness Notebook is stored in the file crate. This binder contains medical information sheet for each family member, first aid kit checklist, emergency directory, prescription drug record for each member, insurance information, and pet medical information.
The last binder in the Home Management area is the Activities Notebook and it is also stored in the file crate. The Activities binder covers the extra-curricular activities that make life worthwhile. Hobby, church, club, sports, volunteer, vacation and travel ideas are included here. This binder includes sports and music schedule and contact information, scouting materials, travel packing checklist, before we leave checklist, camping checklist, vacation idea list, house-sitter information, etc.
This system works for me, but it might be too many levels for you, or my needs of a a mom of three young kids are not your needs, or I might not have included things that you need. Many people have all of these items in one binder. For me, a single home management journal would be too large, and I needed the ability to have various parts of it in different areas. I was originally motivated to set up my home management binders because I needed to have a better handle on my life, and I also felt the need to be able to have things in place if I was ever in position of not being at home for a short or long period of time and other people needed to help manage my home.
But the key really is to create a system that works for you. I won't be offended if you don't use my ideas, but I think that it is helpful for most house managers to have SOME kind of system. I know that my system sounds a little complicated, but it helps me have a place for everything and helps me decide what to keep and what to NOT keep. So for me, it does make things more simple. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)