Friday, February 10, 2012
The Home Organization Binder
I'm not a naturally organized person, and I REALLY hate spending money when it comes to organizing things. Organization doesn't come easy to me, and I'm definitely not an expert at it. That said, the Home Organization Binder that we made at Mom's Group a few weeks ago has been a big help to me, and so I wanted to talk about it here.
I'd seen similar binders all over Pinterest, but hadn't actually made one because (a) I hadn't seen one configured in a way that I thought I'd actually use, (b) I hate spending money on that sort of thing and (c) I don't have a lot of craft supplies, so it would probably end up being very expensive for me to buy scrapbook paper and all those other goodies necessary in order to create a binder that I wouldn't mind having just sit out on a day-to-day basis. That's the beauty of my Mom's Group--you pay annual "dues" and part of that dues money goes towards providing all the materials needed to do the craft of the day. It's awesome.
Anyway, we were instructed to decorate the outside of the binder however we wanted. Again, my goal was to have something that I wouldn't mind sitting out on the desk all the time. Then, on the inside, we were supposed to create divided sections based on something called a "brain dump" that they had done the previous session. I missed that one, but from what I gather, you basically take a blank piece of paper, give yourself an allotted amount of time, and then just write down everything on your mind until the time is up. The suggestion was that you then review your brain dump and see if there are any themes or categories that might help you decide what your divided sections should be. Here's what I ended up with:
1. Finances: Included in this section are two zippered pouches--one for receipts that need to be entered into our budget, and one for receipts from the month that already have been entered. We enter most of our financial info directly into an Excel spreadsheet, but I also printed out a copy of our monthly budget for easy access. It might also be a good place to keep track of due dates for various bills, interest rates for credit cards/student loans, and that sort of thing.
2. Prayer: I mentioned the Inspired to Action website a few days ago, which includes some great e-books that include monthly calendars for praying for your kids and spouse. I have them printed out and in sheet protectors in this section. I also added lined notebook paper so that when I hear about prayer requests, I can jot them down and (hopefully) actually follow through later.
3. To Do Today: Exactly as it sounds. It's a section of lined paper. I fold each piece of paper vertically, and write two days worth of to-do's on each side. Another great option is the Weekly Overview (again from Inspired to Action) which allows space to write your Bible Study plans, a menu, and a to-do list.
4. To Do Later: This section is also filled with lined paper and is for things that I want to remember, but don't necessarily need to do that day. I also have a few sheet protectors for fliers/brochures, and my brain dump is also here. I really liked the brain dump and I think I may do it more often.
5. Meal Plan: My plan was to print our my meal plan and keep it here, along with a master list of the recipes that I can cook. That said, I'm finding that I actually end up looking on the computer (I keep the meal plan in a Word document and also look on Pinterest a lot) than in the binder, so this category may turn into something else.
6. Toddler Activities: Awhile back, when I was venting about the parenting/cleaning balance, Emily commented that she tries to do three activities with Thomas each day. I really liked that idea, and have implemented it a lot with Lizzy with my own little spin. I keep a list of activities to do with Lizzy in this section. This isn't anything fancy...typically I just take toys that we already have, and couple them with developmental stuff. So, one activity might be to play with Legos with Lizzy, with me focusing on counting as we're playing (or colors). It isn't anything structured--just while we're playing, I make an effort to count the Legos as we stack. Sometimes, the activities are just going to the library or to the park...but the key for me is that it helps me to be more present and to really feel like I have some freedom to clean, or read, or whatever doing the day because I know Lizzy is getting some quality time. And as a bonus, it helps me remember to rotate in books and toys that we haven't read or used in awhile. This would also be a good section to keep lists of free things to do in your area, printouts from places like www.icanteachmychild.com and more.
7. Notes/Other Info: Since the binder typically sits next to the computer, I like to just have lined paper where I can scratch notes as necessary. Justin's been working on an inventory of our DVD collection, so that may eventually go here, as may schedules for baseball/softball, etc.
8. Emergency Info: This will probably just be a place to store phone numbers of our doctors, Justin's work, our insurance agent, etc. Phone numbers that I may need quickly, but probably don't know by heart or necessarily want/need in my phone 24/7.
Other ideas for divider sections that I've seen are things like cleaning, take-out menus, sports schedules, etc. The bottom line is to do what works for you...do the brain dump, identify what is stressing you out, and do what you can to make yourself a bit more organized in those areas. I know, it sounds so simple, right? Well, it's not that simple, and you won't do it perfectly (I don't anyway), but doing something is better than doing nothing I figure!
I know this post is getting long, but I also have to mention that our mail is stored elsewhere (in the living room post, I showed you the inside of the flowered box--it's in there). We have sections in that box for incoming bills, things to be filed, cards/notes, etc. But, all of those categories would probably also work in a Home Binder if you think that would work best for you--I just already had a system going for that and figured there's no sense in messing with what's already working.
Also, does it drive anyone else crazy that when you put things in sheet protectors, you can no longer see the divider tabs?! No? Just me? Okay then.... :)