Monday, November 24, 2008

My Household Notebook

I have a new organizing tool: a household notebook. And this is why in a nutshell: I have to get my thoughts out on paper. There are two reasons that I neeed to do this. 1) As much as I love to use the computer to keep things organized (and I do for some things), sometimes I just need to write stuff down. And keeping it all in one organized place is best. 2) I'm pretty good at remembering things. But one of my best tools for "remembering" is writing stuff down. It's essential.

So, those are my reasons and here's the guts of my notebook. It's a 1.5 inch clear-cover binder with 10 dividers inside. The dividers have very handy pockets for keeping things that you don't necessarily want or need to punch with holes to fit on the rings of the binder. My notebook generally stays in the office and has a home on the left side of our desk. This way it is accessible to me at all times but because it is a neat little binder and not a mess of papers, I don't mind it being out all the time. I never carry it with me or anything. It's a tool I use at home. And the cover...the image up there is the cover for my notebook. I had to make it pretty because it's so much more fun to use when it's pretty.

The dividers:

1. Important Contacts and Info: This holds all of our physicians's contact information for quick reference. Also the pharmacy, poison control and a couple of others.

2. To-Do Lists: The notebook is almost always open to this section. I have three lists. One for "today's to-dos," one for errands that need to be run, and one for projects like hanging curtains in our bathroom. Under the "today" section, I usually just attach a sticky note so that it can be switched out every day. This is where I jot down each day's top priorities to be done. In the back of this section I have a weekly to-do list that maps out the things I always do on each day. For example, I do menus and grocery shopping on Mondays and the laundry on Tuesdays, etc.

3. Menu Planning and Grocery List: The first document in this section is a print-out of this week's menus and grocery list. The pocket of this divider is good for holding any recipes I find or print that I want to make later. I also have a place here to jot down any recipe ideas I come up with throughout the week that I want to save for the next week. They come to me at random times but almost never when I'm sitting down on Monday trying to think of what to make. So if I already have a few ideas written down, I don't have to be that creative on Mondays.

4.The Blog: I just use this section as a collection place for ideas I want to write about or anything I want to put up here that I'm afraid I'll forget about later. When I post about it, I just cross it off the list. Or sometimes I cross it off the list and never post about it because when I revisit the idea it doesn't sound as great as when I thought of it. That happens often.

5. Ethan's Stuff: There's a copy of his current schedule so that when anyone comes to watch him I can just pull it out. It also helps me to have it written out sometimes. I also have a place here to write down ideas for his scrapbook. I'm always thinking of things that would make cute layouts but then draw a blank when I'm actually at the computer composing. So, this helps with that a little bit.

6. Cleaning and Household Tasks: This is where I break down the cleaning regiment. I have a table of what I want to do daily, weekly and monthly. It's important to note how I phrased that...what I want to do. Because it never really works out that way, but it's good to have goals anyway.

7. Gift Ideas: Currently, I have a breakdown of our 2008 Christmas gifts and budget. But in this section there is always a place to write down ideas for what to give for various occasions because again, I will think of the best Mother's Day gift in February and then forget all about that fabulous gift idea when May rolls around. And at the very back of this section is a wish list for me, one for Casey and one for Ethan. We use this at Christmas and birthdays whenever they are requested.

8. Craft Ideas: Very simple...a place to write down things I want to make or projects to try. Sometimes these double as gift ideas too.

9. Library Books: I will be using this more as Ethan gets older, but it's basically a table to keep track of what I've got checked out currently, when it's due, and if it has been returned or not. It could also contain a list of books I want to check out but so far, I haven't needed that.

10: Goals: I find that it really helps to type out your goals. You don't necessarily have to print them out and keep them anywhere, but the acutal writing process really solidifies the goal and makes it more real than if it's just swimming around in your head. It's also a great way to get specific with the perameters of your goals. And they could be anything...spiritual, professional, working out, etc.

You'll notice that I don't have a calendar in there anywhere. That's because I have a dry-erase calendar station in my laundry room that works very well. But that would be a handy tab if I didn't have that sorted out. And I plan on adding a divider for our budget but I just don't have that done yet.

So, that's my notebook. It really helps keep me sane by making sure that my poor little brain doesn't have to be responsible for too much information at once. Try it out if you think it would work for you. Your brain may thank you too.


Kaitlin said...

Look at you all organized.

I know we've never actually met, but it's funny how much I feel like I know about you. I was at church yesterday and I saw a mojority of the blogs I read sitting in that lower section of the balcony. It was funny to see. Also, I made eye contact with Ethan when I was standing on the stairs and y'all were was cute. lol.

Dara said...

Go Rachel!!! I need to have you organize my household!!! We could definitely use a notebook like this.

Lynn Leaming said...

It is funny how God made us all so different. I would be totally depressed all the time if I had a notebook like this because it would be a constant reminder of how I didn't get stuff done as in my life there are always interruptions. I definitely live life more spontaneously. It has never even occured to me to go to the store the same day every week, or clean a toilet the same day every week. I just do things as needed. I would probably surprise myself at how less stressful life would be if I would plan menus and make lists, but...hard to teach an old dog new tricks :)

Brooke said...

You probably like spreadsheets right? If so, I have something I can send you that is amazing for budgets. Also, have you ever tried I think that might be right up your alley.

mindy said...

Rachel, you are my organizational hero! I LOVE your notebook. Somehow I'm never quite as organized as I want to be, maybe I'll start a notebook one of these days!

Amberly said...

WOW!! That will really come in handy when your kids start pulling you in multiple directions for soccer... baseball... ballet... playdates...

Unknown said...

I created one for our family several months ago. We love it! The whole family knows where to find stuff and they also know that the master calendar is in there. Unlike you I do haul it everywhere. It has been a wonderful tool for me.

Mary said...

I added a couple of new tabs that have been really nice for us. One is a "to Purchase" tab. We always have a grocery list going (organized by aisle of course), but we never seem to have a place to write those random things new skillet, 8x10 frame, new propane tank for grill, etc. Now we have a place to keep that. We also have a "date night idea" section, so we don't forget about that cool restaurant or movie we wanted to go to (complete with a list of babysitters names and phone numbers.) And we do have a budget tab too. Oh yeah, one other one I added that you would like Rach, is a "sub-tab" under goals that is a list of books I want to read. That way I don't forget when someone recomends one to me!

Flip-Flops, Pearls, & Baby said...

Can you tell me your secrets to doing all of this with two small kids? My kids are about the same age, and I would love to know.

Flip-Flops, Pearls, & Baby said...

I've been working on this idea. It could be especially fabulous for military wives, but I keep wondering how to do it all on my iPad. I think doing it electronic and having the option to print it would help minimize clutter and bulk with the same benefits. Any ideas?