March 7, 2012

My Home Management Binder


I've mentioned my home management binder before, and every time I do I get hoards of (okay, um... 2 or 3) emails and comments from people who want to know what the heck is a home management binder?  And will you please come organize my home/life/husband's sock drawer?

The answer to that first question is below.  The answer to the second will depend on a number of factors, mainly whether or not you have chocolate to share. 

So, what is a home management binder anyways?
A home management binder is a place to keep all the papers that you need to reference regularly in order to make your home run smoothly.  To-do lists, meal plans, work schedules, metric conversions, whatever!

How do you know what should be in your Home Management Binder?
A good place to start is by rounding up all the papers that collect in your home.  Where do you tuck things you expect to need to reference later?  Where do your to-do list and shopping lists end up?  Gather all those things together and sort them into piles by similar subject matter.  Now you can create a section in your binder for each pile. Easy, right?

 A peek at my Home Management Binder


My binder has cork tiles trimmed to fit and glued to the inside covers. It's a good place to pin things like stamps and appointment reminders.


My section dividers are made from file folders.


The first section is the to-do list section.  I have a system using post-it notes to keep my projects prioritized.


I write tasks and projects on a post-it note and place it on the page on the left.   On the page on the right I have the headings Create, Clean, and Organize.  I keep two tasks under each heading and focus only on the tasks on that page.  When I complete a task I crumple up the note and throw it a way, and put a new one (from the left side page) in it's place.


This keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by too many tasks.  Also, I  have the great pleasure of crumpling something up and throwing it away each time I complete a task!

The to-do list section also has my weekly planning printables from this post.

A Food Section just holds my grocery lists.

The Blog Section has my blog planning sheets, which I use as a guide but rarely manage to stick to.  What can I say...  I have more ambitions than time!


(I've made these planners available as free printables too. You can find them on the same page as the weekly planning pages listed above.  Or click here.)

The School section holds any notes or ideas for our home school and our annual goals for each child.  I also have page protectors filled with story paper and homeschool planning sheets printed for free from DonnaYoung.org



The Hospitality section holds the hospitality printables from this post so that I can keep track of what guests can and cannot eat.  It's also a place to record gift ideas and party plans.

A Reference section at the back holds miscellaneous items I need to have on hand.  Right now the only thing in there are some instructions for baby sign language.


The cork tile on the inside back cover holds the most important documents of all...


When it's not on the kitchen counter, I keep my Home Management Binder in my (not-so-junky) Junk Drawer.



Here are some possible sections for your Home Management Binder.  Use the ones that apply best to you and your life.
  • schedule/day planner
  • cleaning/homemaking routines
  • to-do lists
  • meals/groceries/menu planning
  • home school
  • blog planner
  • medical records
  • budget/finances
  • garden plans
  • hospitality/party planning/events
  • birthday calendar
  • a Christmas planner
  • website passwords
  • freezer inventory
  • anything else that will help simplify your life!

A few tips for a functional Home Management Binder:
  •  Make it pretty.  I find that it is so much easier to keep things tidy and organized if they are pretty!
  • ...but not too pretty.  I am the type of person who will rip out and re-write the first page in a pretty new journal several times because I want it to be neatly written and perfect.  If you can relate to that at all be careful to keep your home management binder simple enough that you are comfortable jotting things down in your sloppy every day handwriting and crossing things out!
  • Keep the sections flexible.  It's important to be able to add and remove sections as your life and needs change.
  • Create a place for things that don't fit in any particular section.  Add some cork tiles or pocket folders for those items so that they don't end up just getting shoved in and forgotten.
  • Don't get tunnel vision.   Maybe you don't even need a home management binder.  Maybe you need a home management clip-board or a home management white board or a series of electronic sticky notes on your computer's desktop.  Figure out what works best for you and run with it.

Thank You so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

83 comments:

  1. Thanks Kelly! I've read a lot of other bloggers' posts about home management binders. I'm trying to put one together myself right now, and your example really pulls it all together for me. I love love LOVE the to-do pages using post-its! I too am the person shredding a new journal; and I was agonizing over the thought of messily scratching off lists, or using a new sheet of paper for every task. How could I not think of this before? You are a sheer genius!

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  2. Thank you for this post! I have just started my home management binder and yours inspires me!

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  3. Yes to both posts! Your clear thinking inspires me, too- Your example and ideas inspire me to think that I can come up with a system to keep the chaos of lists, projects and good intentions in order, and actually get things done! Thank you!

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  4. This looks great! Thanks for sharing!
    And I have loads of chocolate to share, so can you come over and organize my house!? :)

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  5. Love the binder, I think I need one. I have everything everywhere.

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  6. I think that YOU are a genius. And I think that I want to be your best friend and snoop and copy all your genius ideas. And I hope that we could share chocolate and coffee and I wouldn't hate you for having it all together ;) I too have seen other binders and this one is GENIUS! Thank you :)

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  7. this just may be one of the best blog posts i've ever read. ever. thank you!!!

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  8. I love the post-it note to-dos. What a great idea!

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  9. Your binder is so much like mine! I have post-its everywhere too; I move meal plans from the food section to the calendar and back again since we have our favorite menus I make a lot. I also have those exact same lacy Martha Stewart tags on my desk right now, just waiting for something to adorn. :)

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  10. I too am in awe of your genius with the post-it note to-do list! What a fabulous way to prioritize. And I too, would feel very satisfied to be able to crumple something up after completing it. ;)

    I love the idea of cork tiles inside the cover to use as a portable bulletin board!

    Definitely bookmarking this... :)

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  11. Can I also say that your junk drawer is amazingly organized.

    Brilliant use of an old muffin tin too!

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  12. Great alternative to a traditional cork board! They always look so junky! I've got a FlyLady Control Journal, but it needs to be reworked and updated a bit. I think I need to add a blogging section and a better section for food.

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    1. And, mine's not NEARLY so pretty. I need to work on that. :-/ I want to be super practical, but I tend to get TOO practical.

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  13. Great post. I'm going to use your idea for post-it notes for my menu planning/recipes to try section. It also got me thinking that I have a HUGE supply of surplus post-it flags from a misprint project at my husband's job. I might be able to fit short to-do tasks on those and use in my inbox/next actions sections. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who has re-written the first page of pretty journal to get it just right!

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  14. Aaack! I'm also a homeschooling mom and writer and I thought I was well organized until I started reading your stuff! It's an amazing inspiration!

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  15. Funny thing is before I even read the other comments, one word came to my mind GENIUS!!!! Thank you for taking the time to explain how you organize your household. I need all the inspiration and ideas I can get!!!! Oh, and I'm still digesting all the helpful and sweet info you posted yesterday! Wonderful.

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  16. Love your blog! Thanks for taking your time to share your ideas, this is inspirational. I still have a hard time believing you have 5 kids with twin babies and still manage life! I just have twins and it's overwhelming! Thanks for letting me learn from you:)

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  17. I love your idea with the cork board. Totally would use that in mine. I also like that you have a drawer dedicated to your binder. I need one, but I only have 2 drawers in this house. Hopefully I'll be able to set one aside in the next house. =D I love my binder, though. It helps when it comes to paying bills and what not.

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  18. Your junk drawer is awesome! Your binder is fabulous too, but I sort of got stuck on the lack of JUNK in your "junk drawer." Ha ha!

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  19. Oh my gosh. Love it. Thanks for sharing. Think ill start this soon.

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  20. Oh my gosh. Love it. Thanks for sharing. Think ill start this soon.

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  21. I wish I got to be home often enough to require the use of a binder. This one looks amazing!

    I definitely can relate to your journal habits. And some of my journals are just so pretty I've never written anything in them. :p

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  22. Thank you thank you thank you! I'm trying to get much more organized this year and this will help tremendously. I try to keep a lot of lists etc on my phone but I never look at them, and it's hard to just move things around with ease. Definitely doing this.

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  23. great post, as usual. i don't presently have any chocolate on hand, but if you can make my junk drawer look like yours i'll make it worth your weight in chocolate......

    promise.

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  24. I Think the word Genius has been thrown around a few times now. But it is totally true. I have had something a lot like this. It's how I got through college without losing my mind.

    I love how pretty yours looks though and I can see how rewarding it would feel to 'toss' out things on post-its that have been completed. I cant wait to substitute your daily planing and groceries sheets for what I have now! (which are much more boring)

    I have ADD(have long refused medication for it) and I find that my binder is the only way I can get through my day without losing track or focus. My only question for you is - - if you are ever out and about and running around do you take this with you? or do you have something else that you use?

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  25. love your cork board idea and your to-do list. May incorporate those into my own HMB.

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  26. I love looking at other people's home management binders! I keep one, too, and have found it super-helpful to have everything in one place. Yours is much more streamlined and tidy than mine, though. And using the cork on the inside covers is brilliant! I've never seen anything like that!

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  27. Putting cork board in your binder is brilliant! Such a fantastic tip - Thank you. I have a "home management box" and have been procrastinating putting it into an orderly binder but your post was just the push I needed.

    Off to the store for some cork board and then home to organize.
    Thanks again.

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  28. Is it bad that this post reminded me that I made a home management folder last year and forgot about it? Will have to dig it out and make it pretty and functional.

    I love the post-it note section and yes I bet it's satisfying scrunching up all those finished tasks!

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  29. Hi Kelly! Love the Binder!! I tried to email myself the link but it doesn't work. Is there a trick to get the link to work?

    Thanks!!

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    1. Are you saying that you used the mail button in the comment bar above to send the link to yourself? If so, I just tried that and it worked fine. In my hotmail account it didn't appear as a clickable link, I had to highlight it and right click and select "open link" in order to open it. In gmail it was a normal clickable link.

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  30. Have you posted this to pinterest? I was trying to find a way to pin it, as I really need to do something like this for my family. If you have not pinned it , can you please pin it, so that I can repin it. Thanks!

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  31. This is a really cool idea. I also love how organized your drawer is... Ah. I'd kill for an extra drawer...and to be able to keep it clean & organized like that! haha. I especially love your blog planner. Where did you get it?

    Lesley
    http://byporchlight.blogspot.com

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  32. Haha nevermind my last question. I've been glued to your blog for the past 1/2 hour and found the printable blog planner eventually :) I love this blog! I linked you on my blogroll :)

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  33. Thanks for the tips! I'd love to put something like this together but I'm worried my binder would be overflowing with all kinds of stuff! Right now I'm working with a white board (to do and meal planning) and a bulletin board, but I still need a better way to store recipes and other stuff. Plus, I like being able to write some stuff down and keep it!

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  34. Loved this post! Thanks for the great ideas. Used your to-do list in my HMB and so far it's worked well for me.

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  35. Kelly, I am unlurking. I have been sent to your blog from Pinterest many times and finally decided to follow you on my RSS feed (which is silly because I have been here many times and it usually takes a lot less for someone to clutter my feed, when you are not clutter at all). Since this morning, I have read almost every post you have written in the past year. I plan to read more, as you are inspirational. Thank you for the time you take from your family to help all us moms with amazing information. God bless you and your little ones!

    Jenni

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  36. I love your cork-boards inside your binder! That's brilliant! I'll have to add that to ours-- it will solve a few lingering issues! Thanks!

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  37. Oh. my. goodness. I am in LOVE with your blog. I found it yesterday via Pinterest and I think I read almost every post. So many great ideas and so much inspiration. You clearly have a gift! Thank you for sharing!

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  38. Pinned! Great idea. I want one for my own place. :)

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  39. THANK YOU again for the amazing idea in this household binder. You just got me a million steps closer to a more organized household. I am inspired!!!

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  40. Just found your blog today via pinterest. I have only read a few of your posts, but I am loving everything! Thanks for the great tips!
    Melanie

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  41. I have a home mgmt binder too. The cork is a brilliant idea. I think I'mm gonna implement that one.

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  42. I'm updating my home management binder after 5 years. I love the use of decorative folders as dividers. And what a great idea to have a blogging idea section.

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  43. Thank you for sharing your binder. It really helps to see how others do it. Finally a way to corral all those Post-it notes I have every where.

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  44. Wow,now I don't feel so bad. I have been doing this since I was young, and my mom and my friends always teased me for having my book or my planner. I came across your blog and when it came up to this topic I had to read it. It is wonderful to hear others actually do this, I mean mine is a little different and maybe not so creative I tend to use ordinary things, like a combination planner and file folder, anyhow...Sounds awesome others do this too! Love the blog, and love that this was written on my birthday, crazy!

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  45. Thank you thank you thank you!!! I found this on pinterest and was so excited about it I made one within a few days of seeing the idea. It is very unlike me to finish a project so quickly after getting the idea into my head but thats mostly because I usually have at least 5 lists in a few different notebooks and can never remember what I was going to do when. After having this binder for a day I already feel totally organized and have accomplished several things on my list to do (we just moved and my daughters first bday is coming up and passover so there is extra going on now) anyway I just wanted to let you know how much this is helping me and to thank you!

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  46. I love the binder! Can you tell me where you got those fantastic folders?

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  47. This idea is absolutely amazing! We just moved to a new house so this is perfect BEFORE I have a chance to get unorganized!!! Thanks so much for posting, I'm totally making one of them!!! And you got the neatest "junk drawer" I've ever seen!

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  48. It's just awesome way 0f maintain daily routine stuff in good manner. Exactly we are doing at office to do daily work as well organize manner to get work output on daily basis. I developed a folders printing file which include my all daily job hours detail which time what have to do and next hour what kind of work need to do so all 8 hours written in my paper written file which helps me to do all work good and my work productivity increase 

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  49. I need this in my life!!! Starting NOW!!! I don't homeschool, but I do have a "soft curriculum" for my kids in the summer and with another one on the way, I think everyone needs their own "tab". EXCITED!!!!!

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  50. Just found your blog via Pinterest -- love it all! Thanks for two posts in particular -- the home management binder and the plan for storing kids' school photos and work. I'm going to give both projects priority now that summer is here and we have more time to do projects like these.

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  51. I love this! It is just what I need. Thank you!

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  52. I pinned this, bought the stuff I needed, made it, and it has been life changing for me. It has created a way for me to manage paper in my life - not the stuff that needs to be filed but all the other stuff. I also created one for work (i'm a teacher) - I'm just working on setting it up for next year. I think this is brilliant and everyone should have one or two. I keep mine in a pretty basket that is long (18 inches or so) and deep (10 inches). I have the binder in there and all the stuff I need. I bought a bunch of pretty papers to use to put my sticky notes on. I have tabs for my life. When I get a paper for the folder, it goes in the basket and then every few days spend time entering. Since it's so pretty and cute, I love being in my folder. Thank you so much!!!!!

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  53. Love it! I also have a section in my binder with plastic holders for business cards - so I can easily reference any people I need to find (chimney, plumbers, etc), along with a list of house account numbers and phone numberss (cable, power, etc)

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  54. I just saw this on pinterest today. I will be improving my current binder soon. I have a notebook that I use as my binder. In the event of any emergency, this is what I will grab before leaving the house. My binder contains all our banking and insurance info, copies of credit cards, phone numbers, social security #'s, etc. that we may need. I love your ideas as well!

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  55. Best home organizer statement of the day (and I've read a lot today!):

    "Keep your home management binder simple enough that you are comfortable jotting things down in your sloppy every day handwriting and crossing things out!"

    Thank you! Now, to create pretty, but not too pretty! Love your foothold in reality! :-)

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  56. Hey guys im building a blog about this and home organization, check it out and leave me some feedback please.
    http://blog.helpforyoublog.com

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  57. I love that you put the disclaimer "make your own system work for you". I've read a bit about these binders, and even tried to make my own. Did NOT work for me. The closest thing I have for a management binder is a small one w/ babysitter info and takeout menus. I use Evernote, Cozi, bill binders, a scanner for everything else. And a sticky note pad or equivalent (you know those hotel room notepads, or free notepads from businesses?) for daily to do list. (I have this habit of not charging my phone, then not being able to remember what I'm supposed to do that day). Just what I found worked for me, I'm not a typical homemaker I suppose. :D

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  58. You have such great ideas that you are a big inspirations for me. So much so that I have written a blog that personally thanks you for being such a huge inspiration for not only a blog but for helping me learn how to reduce much of the stress I feel as a mom. I would love for you to read it if you get the chance. http://homeandsportschatter.biz/?p=90

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  59. I just started putting mine together as I'm reading your blog! I was up way too late checking out your wonderfully genius site and couldn't wait to get started today! Thanks so much :)

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  60. That is not a junk drawer... just sayin'

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  61. An enormous round of applause, continue the great work.

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  62. Thank you for sharing your binder. It really helps to see how others do it. Finally a way to corral all those Post-it notes I have every where.
    Mike

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  67. I found this blog worthy and I think the home management binder would certainly helped us in making things organized, keep it up.
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  68. I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic way is amusing, continue the good work! Mady

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  69. Love the list thanks! I can completely relate to the pretty journal example :)

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  70. I found your blog really helpful for me. I am a housewife and I need a binder to tuck things that I need it later. So, after reading your blog, I sort the subject matter first and write each one in different set of papers. Then I tuck all the papers together with the help of binders. Thanks once again for guiding me.

    Colad

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  71. I was very discouraged with my habit of miss-management. I found your blog very helpful for me as after reading your blog I can now manage the things in a better way by using the tucking paper way.

    Regards,
    Thepaperworker.com

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