Content Updated on October 14, 2007
Once you get your supplies (see Supplies You Need for a Household Notebook), you’ll need to assemble everything.
Set Up Your Dividers
Set up your sections in a logical way, so other family members won’t have to fumble through the notebook to find what they needs. It’s best to put frequently used and important sections (e.g. emergency information) closer to the front, so they can be found quickly.
Group Things Together
Don’t try to make a section for every little thing. For example, I’ve seen people make one section for “daily chores,” one section for “weekly chores,” one section for “monthly chores,” and so on. It would be more logical to simply place each of those lists under the “to-do lists” section for reference then schedule them in your calendar section as needed.
The Fewer Pages the Better
It is also best to try to combine everything together on a page that you will look at daily, like your daily or weekly planning page in your calendar section. I’ve seen some people set up one calendar for menus, one calendar for appointments, one calendar for events (like birthdays and anniversaries), one page for the current “to do” list, and so on. With such a method, you would be flipping through pages all day. Instead, get it all onto one planning page (either a weekly planning page or a daily planning page), so you can open your book to a single page and instantly see everything that is going on and must be done.
You can buy pre-labeled dividers (especially for dividing months in your calendar or letters in your contacts section), but I’ve found that you’ll still want to have several blank dividers that you can label yourself.
- Emergency Information
- Calendars and Schedules
- Phone Numbers and Addresses / Contacts
- Sitter Information
- Individual Information (such as important info about family members and pets)
- Phone Messages
- Greeting Card / Thank You Card Lists
- Logs (borrowed items, loaned items, library books and rentals to return)
- Chore and Allowance Charts (for children)
- Shopping (shopping lists, coupons, rebates, price lists)
- Inventories (kitchen inventory, supply closet inventory, books, videos, music library)
- Finances (Budget, Expense and Income Tracking)
- Projects (upcoming parties, hobbies, upcoming trips)
- Health Tracking Logs (food log, exercise log, well-child doctor visit schedules)
- Computer Information (for when you need to call tech support because you’re computer died)
- Master Lists (packing checklists, project checklists)
- To-Do Lists (daily chores, weekly chores, monthly chores, seasonal chores, someday tasks, home maintenance projects)
- School (lunch menus, reading logs, homeschool lesson plans, school events)
Set Up Your Pages
Print your pages (or buy them pre-printed) and, if you didn’t print them on 3-hold punched paper, 3-hole punch them. If you don’t want to spend all afternoon doing this, take them to your local printer and have them do it in just seconds for a couple of bucks.
Place page in the appropriate sections. If you discover, after using the organizer for awhile, that you keep looking for certain pages in the wrong section, consider putting those pages in a new location.
Start filling in all the information. This is the part that takes up most of the time. You can make this process go faster by buying planning pages that already have the dates filled in. You can also speed things up by printing out your contacts pages from your address book on your computer.
Add Your Page Protectors
Page protectors can act like see-through envelopes for things like take-out menus, coupons, and fliers. They can also be used to protect pages like checklists that you use frequently and don’t want to damage. Plus, they can be used like wipe-off boards with dry-erase markers, so you can use the same checklist again and again without having to print out new copies; just erase the markings on the page protector when you’re done. (And unlike with laminating your pages, the paper in the page protector can be swapped out for a new one, so the plastic can be used again and again, and the paper inside can be recycled.)
Mark Important Pages with Paperclips
If there’s a section you need to flip to in a hurry, such as the emergency section, or a page you need to flip to frequently, such as this week’s calendar page, stick a paper clip on it. It’ll act like a bookmark, and you can attach things, like business cards and invitations, with it, so you’ll have those items when you need them.
You can even try using different colored paperclips for different sections.
Start Using It Every Day
You can’t just set it up and never open it again. If you want to stay organized, make sure to look through your organizer every day. Look at what you need to do today or what events you need to remember. An organizer is a tool for helping you get organized. It won’t do the work for you. If you want it to help you, you have to use it.