Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Things I Love: Organizational Tools

I want to share an organizational tool that I've implemented in the past few months that has helped our household out tremendously. Not being able to find what I needed out of a traditional daily planner, I sought out to create my own. With weekly calendar fill pages, loose-leafed paper, sheet covers and colored tabs, I've been able to use a durable, and functional planner. 
 My planner functions include: to do lists, grocery lists, long and short term goals, a collection of funny things the children have said that I need to write down somewhere before I forget, books I want to buy, things for the house I want to buy, meal planning, and on and on and on.
 I have tabs in here for different topics, i.e Household, Read-Alouds. If I'm looking through Pottery Barn Kids and see a great idea I'd like to implement for less money, I can tear it out, put it in a plastic sleeve, and keep it safely in my folder until the day comes for a project. If I'm reading a blog and someone is using books I'd like to check out for myself, I have a tab for that, too! I have multiple online tutorials for sewing, knitting, and preserving food that I've printed out and keep in my notebook for reference.
When it comes to picking out books at the library, while it may seem to be taking things a step too far, I find that have a rough "plan" for each week saves a lot of time. Sometimes the topics are narrow, such as Apples and Komodo Dragons, and other weeks they might be broad, like the seasons or farms. Having a topic to hone in on gives a little direction whilst surrounded by shelves of books. Book planning, and book requesting through the library is now a near-perfected system with my notebook. With weekly topics selected until Christmas, the boys and I are looking forward to learning more about Stealth Bombers and Tamarins, just to name a couple. 

Sometimes life when the kids are little can seem so chaotic. Having a simple but maintainable system for organizing can help keep the peace (at least in my head ;-)  ). 


Sarah said...

Um, seriously?! Could we be anymore alike?? This is fantastic! Aren't binders and tab systems great? Wish we lived closer . . .

Erin said...

Oh Mallory, this is why we get along so well. I would be one lost wife/mommy without my three ring binders and clip boards.

I had to laugh at the random things you save that I too collect. For some reason it never occurred to me to record funny things and milestones from my girls in one of my books, that is an awesome idea! I have many house ideas in one of my books. Another related thing I love to use them for is when we decide on an item we plan to purchase in the future (larger items anyway - for example the storage/work bench we want someday for our garage) I make note whenever I see this particular item on sale, check my book, see its current best sale price, and if it's less expensive, I save the newest advertisement, so when it's time to make the purchase I know which price is realistic to wait for.

The clipboards are a whole different thing, but I'm obsessed. I am the crazy lady who owns 12 clipboards. (Ask Mark, all the guys get their own at Justin's Fantasy Football drafts!) I have one for bills, one for things I need Justin to look at, one for our health savings account, one for our checkbook (where I clip debit card receipts to they don't get forgotten). Christmas alone warrants three separate clipboards. There's always a "to-do" list clipboard. I kept one with notes on a certain anonymous child of mine and her bathroom habits when she was having her "issues" for a year! I could always look back and know when it was time to crack out her favorite medicine.

Mallory said...

Yes! You guys are right on track with me--awesome.

You know how you're always saying "What so-and-so said was cute, I should writ that down," but then you never do because you don't want to pull out the baby book? Well, I solved that problem by just putting it on loose paper. Then, on a rainy day I can transfer it all.

The clipboard idea is phenomenal! Alas, I have none. Here's why, I like to be able to see things, but I don't want four clipboards on my wall. Is there a cute or functional way to have them on a desk and reachable and accessible but not piled on top of each other? Come on, Erin, I know you have the answer!

Erin said...

I don't know if I have your answer. I don't hang them on my wall. I like them free and easy so I can stash them when people come over because I only like to let my freak flag fly on your blog. :-)

My main clipboard is always out, like you said, so I can see it all day, usually on the kitchen island. The checkbook one is also always out to remind both of us to clip debit card receipts in it so they can be entered. Justin's clipboard I keep on his nightstand, right where he puts his cell phone so I know he will notice it. The others go in the cupboard above my computer. They can be out of sight, because I know whenever I get a bill, it's going in the bill clipboard etc., it's not something I forget to do if it's not staring at me. At Christmas my gift one goes on my gift wrapping table, my baking one in the kitchen, and Christmas card one on the desk where I put my mail (easy access for any address changes etc.)

Basically I put them where they make the most sense, the ones that I need to be reminded of out in the open, the others stashed away, and I stash all of them when we have guests generally. Not the wonderfully fabulous method you hoped for probably. I'm open to suggestions if you come up with something amazing!

Mallory said...

ERIN! Look what I found!

Erin said...

How much do I need one of these on my half wall going downstairs in my house?! It would be directly across from the mudroom door so the first thing my family would see when we walk in the door! On a related topic, Justin would like to have a little chat with you... ;-)

Lorrene said...

Oh my goodness, what wonderful ideas for organizing your homes! I started a HOME binder one time but never completed it to the level you have. I really like your ideas and should try this out. What do you recommend starting with, so the task doesn't seem undaunting?

Katrina said...

found these free downloadable planner pages for moms. working on making my own planner. thanks for the inspiration :)