Thursday, August 21, 2008

Home Organization - Step 1

I want to do a series on basic home organization. Basically, just ways to help keep your home running smoothly, even in the times when life ISN'T running smoothly. I know that with multiple children (or even one child) going in a million different directions, life gets hectic. So we need something to keep us sane. Something to keep our head on straight.

Different experts have different opinions on what works and doesn't work. As you all know, I'm no expert, nor do I claim to be. I'm just a wife and mom trying to find ways to be the best wife and mom I can be. My advice and tips on here are just things that have worked for me. Sorry, I felt I needed to put that disclaimer in here.

So, step 1. Start a Home Management Planner/Organizer.
I wish I could take credit for this genius concept, but I can't. If you search the term "home management notebook," you will get hundreds of thousands of results. About 536,000 to be exact. There are so many unique ideas out there regarding this simple little tool. And they are all very helpful. I'm going to try to make it simple for you and give you the basics and suggestions.

What IS a home management planner (hmp)? Simple. Something that gives you organization and direction for your duties at home. It keeps all of your important to-do lists, calendars, menu plans, shopping lists, notes, bill due dates, and so much more...ALL IN ONE PLACE. What's the pediatrician's phone number? Find it quickly in the hmp. When is utility bill due? Look it up efficiently in the hmp.

Your home management planner can be as elaborate or as simple as you need it to be. It's your notebook, so it needs to work for you. Some sections in my notebook may not be applicable to your notebook. You may have 25 sections. Or you may have 10. If it doesn't help YOU stay organized, there's no point.

So how do I start, you ask. Here's what you'll need.
  • A 3-ring binder
  • Dividers - either numerical or with tabs that can be labeled
  • notebook paper
  • clear page protectors
Get a piece of paper and right down all the categories of your life that you feel need to be included in your folder. Calendar, Grocery and Menus, Finances, Household, Children, the list goes on. Just brainstorm what categories YOU need. Label a divider for each category. If you are using numerical dividers, make a table of contents to put in the front of your notebook for reference. Put some blank notebook paper in each never know when you'll need to jot down notes! And here's the best part, if you use a notebook with a clear insert on the front cover, you can design a snazzy front cover to make it pretty!

And that's pretty much all you need to do to get started! So how do you use it? Let me tell you about my notebook and how I use it.

My categories:
  • Daily Planning Sheets (coming in the next post)
  • Calendar - this is in the front of my notebook. I print a copy of my Google Calendar for quick reference.
  • Menu and Grocery - I use Google Calendar to organize my monthly menu. (more to come on menu planning!) I print it out and can easily add to it and make changes.
  • Household - Here I keep up with home project ideas, inventory of things, jot down when I need to pick up items at the store, etc. Pretty much anything household related.
  • Finance - Keep a copy of our monthly budget, as well as print outs of how we ended up at the end of the month.
  • Bill Pay - I have a sheet typed up with a list of all of our monthly bills. I have them separated into 2 categories, auto drafts and mail ins. If they are automatic drafts, I have the amount due, the draft date, and the log in info. If I have to mail a check, I have the amount and due date.
  • Brody - pretty self explanatory :) I write down when I gave him medicine (bc mothers can be very forgetful!), developmental milestones, anything Brody related!
  • Business Ideas and Projects - here I write down ideas I have related to my photo and design business, upcoming projects, etc
  • Personal - basically anything that does not fit into the other categories.
I keep my notebook on my kitchen table so that I can easily access it throughout my day. Whether I need to check my daily planning sheet, grab a phone number, or jot down a note in the household section, its right there. Your notebook has to be kept somewhere where you can easily get to it or it defeats the purpose. It shouldn't be put up on a shelf in a closet somewhere. How will you use it on a day to day basis?

This is an overview of the Home Management Planner. This is brief compared to the plethora of information that is out there. For even more information, read Simple Mom's series on Home Management Notebooks. She has a very neat system.

Coming up next: Using daily planning sheets.

*I do not take credit for coming up with these ideas. I credit the brilliant wives and mothers who have done this for years who have graciously shared them with the world. I have researched and implemented their plans, making adjustments to make them fit my life. The ideas expressed here are MY take on them and how I have come up with my own way to make them work.

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