Thursday, March 22, 2012

Household Notebook Update

Back when I made my first Household Notebook, I had one child, no iPhone, and there was no such thing as Pinterest. So, I thought it might be time for an update as to how I use my household notebook these days. Because I definitely use it differently than I did back then. 

First of all, it has a new cover (I've had this new one for about a year now). The cover (without our last name on it) is available for download in the free printables section if you want to use it. 


These days, my household notebook is not something that I refer to daily. (More on that below). But, it is still something I really value as an organizational tool and time-saver for me. My notebook really serves as a place to corral ideas/thoughts/lists and to be a portable filing system for my most-used household documents.

You can take a look at that first post for a list of the tabs in my original notebook. But these are the tabs that have been removed because I never used them:

The Blog: if I have a post idea, I just create a draft version (even if it's just the title) and it reminds me later what I had in mind.

Ethan/Logan: For the boys, I have a file for each of them in my file drawer that contains all sorts of stuff pertaining to their growth records, preschool registration, etc. It's more stuff than I wanted to keep in the binder and none of it do I refer to frequently. I no longer print out a schedule for the boys. It's second nature to me and even our parents (the most frequent babysitters) have their schedules down.

Cleaning and Household Tasks:  I think most people find it really helpful to have this tab in their household notebook. But for me, it just took up space. Right after Ethan was born and I started staying home full time, I figured out what the best days were for me to tackle certain household tasks. I have pretty much stuck to that schedule (give or take a little tweaking) since then and again, it's second nature to me now. I know that I do clothing laundry on Wednesdays, sheets and bedding on Thursdays, etc.  I still have a copy of this master schedule on my computer, but I really didn't need a printed copy in my binder or a whole tab taken up by this topic since I never looked at it.

Craft Ideas: Well, I hardly take the time to craft anymore. I have had to pare down my hobbies since having children, so I generally stick to photography and reading. I have little time for anything else and those are the most important ones to me. And also, Pinterest happened. Any little projects or crafts I see that I want to reference later are pinned to one of my boards.

Library Books:  I just never got into a rhythm of using this tab at all. We do not go to the library as regularly as I would like, although with Logan getting older (and not napping 50 times a day), I might add this to our weekly schedule...especially this summer. But even so, I think I will use a different system for keeping track of our books and when they are due. When we have gotten books from the library, I just designated a place for them and made sure they were always returned to that spot after we read them. Then, I made a calendar entry on my iPhone for the day they were due with a little notation on how many books we checked out that time so I can make sure they all made it back.

Here are the tabs I use now:

1. Contacts:  I still have a page at the front of this section that has all of our important contact numbers and information. The contacts on this page are: doctors, pharmacy, and poison control.

I've added two new things to this section.  1) A two-page list of household contacts that I've kept over the years. These include: painter, electrician, realtor, and various other contractors. 2) A business card organizer to keep contact info handy for contractors, repairmen, etc, that I might want to call in the future. Some of these are: tree trimming, carpet cleaner, custom embroidery for kids stuff, landscaping, paint and body shop, insurance agent, etc. You can get those 3-ring business card sheets at any office supply store (maybe even Target). I have three sheets and only two card slots left!


2. To-Do:  I no longer use this section for daily to-dos. I just found that having my notebook constantly open so I could see my to-do list was not appealing to me. Instead, I keep a small notepad on my desk on which I keep a running list of things I need to accomplish. Usually I start a new list about once every week. I've been doing it this way for a while now and it really works for me. But, I still use this section to keep a list of long-term projects: paint front door, remove drapery in dining room, add shelves to office closet, design and print family photo albums, clean out files. This is not a massive list that has everything I want to do to the house or organizationally, etc. It is a list meant for projects that really are a priority for me in the coming months, and at the furthest, to the end of the year.

3. Menus / Meals: I use this section differently now too. And mostly because of Pinterest! If I see a recipe that I want to make, I usually encounter it online so I just pin it to my recipe board. I've even looked up recipes that I've seen in a magazine and pinned it from the website so I don't have to keep track of a paper copy. This works well because when I sit down to do my menus for the week (I still menu plan weekly), I can look at my board if I need ideas.

I also no longer print out a copy of my menus for the week or my grocery list for my notebook. I found that it just wasted paper. I print out one copy of our weekly menus that I keep in a drawer in the kitchen so that I can refer to it throughout the week. And I print one grocery list right before I go to the store.

One change to this section is that I now keep a list of favorite recipes so that if I need a winner, I can go look at what my family really loved or the recipe that was a big hit with friends. This is just a hand-written list that I add to when I try a new recipe that's a keeper! (Some of them aren't).

4. Gifts: I still use this section a lot, especially at Christmas time. I keep a wish list for each of us (me, Casey, Ethan and Logan) so that when I think of (or hear about) something that person would like or need as a gift, I can write it down. This is so handy and I can even give out ideas to family members when they ask for birthday or Christmas ideas. I also still make a yearly spreadsheet for Christmas gifts so I can stay on budget and keep track of what has been purchased and what gifts still need to be bought. There is also a sheet in this section to write down any ideas I have for other family members that might occur to me at random times.

5. Goals: I still have this section and I use it for mainly personal goals, but I think it would be a great place to put a family mission statement or yearly goal for your family. That's something we've discussed doing but haven't tackled yet.

(These two tabs are new to my notebook:)

6. Invitations Pocket:  I keep my calendar exclusively on Google Calendars, which synchs with my iPhone. But, I do like a place to keep any invitations we receive for events we plan on attending. If we aren't attending, I RSVP and then discard the invite in the recycle bin. If we're going, I RSVP, enter it on my calendar, and then stash the invite in a pocket in my notebook so I can refer to it later. This is helpful because it ensures I don't loose the vital info on the invite. (My dividers in my notebook each have a pocket on the front.)


7. Movies / Books:  These are two simple lists of movies we want to see and books I want to read (or want to get for the boys to read). I also have a list of books I've lent out (and to whom) that I want to make sure I get back. We don't rush out to the theater every time there is a movie coming out that we want to see, so sometimes I jot it down on my list to reference later when we're looking to rent/stream a movie. (I have to credit Mary, who commented on my last notebook post that a books tab would be a good idea. She had several other good ideas in that comment too!)

8. Coupons:  This is where I keep any internet-related coupons that I might want to use. Coupons that are for in-store use are kept in a small plastic envelope in my purse so I always have them with me. But coupons that are for internet stores or that can only be used online are stored in the pocket of this tab's divider. My notebook stays on my desk mostly, which is right by the computer, so I have these handy if I want to use one.


9. Trips:  This one only gets used if I'm planning a trip, but it sure is handy to have a place to stash all the related documents as I'm planning. It might be a packing list, itinerary, handwritten list of things we'd like to see or do, etc.

My notebook is actually a little smaller than it used to be. It is more streamlined and efficient. When I set up my notebook the first time, I had not used one before so I didn't know what would work for me or not. In using it for a little while, I realized what I wanted to keep, get rid of, and add. Organization only works if you have a system that will stick. If it doesn't work for you, then you won't stick to it. In that case, change is good!


Those Precious Few said...

I can't find your most post on your trip to New York, and it's possible that you have already been. In case you haven't, I was talking to a friend from church the other day and she mentioned the restaurant Serendipity-the one in the movie. Anyways, I thought of you because it's in NY and they have amazing desserts. Maybe you'd want to check it out!

Those Precious Few said...

Those PRecious few = Kristen McCook, sorry about that

Unknown said...

Have you tried to keep track of books and due dates? It links with your card, and you can set the preferences for various email reminders on due dates.

Emily Cade said...

I seriously love your organization! You are the most organized person I know and you seem to do it so effortlessly!!! Go Rachel!!!

Rabelers said...

love how organized you are! it makes life so much easier!

Diana said...

Just stumbled across your site, and I love the cover design for your household notebook (as well as your other design items)! I was you happen to have a pdf for the notebook spine? Or do you label the spine of your notebook? Thanks!