The Plan.

a couple of weeks ago, i mentioned in passing my family/household binder and was asked about it.  between that little prompt, and the fact that i've been overhauling a few things in my household routine lately, i figured i could spend some time this week just talking about how i organize and run some of my household tasks, like meal planning, decorating, cleaning, etc.

i know it's probably presumptious of me to assume that anyone might be interested in the inner workings of the twisted organization of our house.  but i do know that a) i always love to see how other people are doing it, and b) if pinterest is any indication of how interested other people are in stuff like this, i'm guessing there are at least a few readers who won't be utterly bored by this.

okay, so first up: my organizational binder.  otherwise intimidatingly known as The Plan.

sorry for the terrible photo.  weighing in at 5.5 pounds, this puppy is difficult to shoot without a wide angle.  and also while eating an apple with one hand.

there are tons of binder how-to's out there, with lots of cute printables and recommendations on what to put in your binder.  if you're just starting with one, check some of those out for ideas.  i put mine together close to six years ago, so i've been using it for a while and finding what works for me and what doesn't.  the truth is, i just kind of wing it at this point.  which is why it looks so wonky and dissheveled and sooo 2007.

anyway, here's what's inside:

the front contains all my 'randoms' (or, at least, some of my randoms).  let's see what's in there right now... the rules for city trash pickup.  some comic strips i found funny.  some anthro wallpaper samples.  a card with the local mormons' contact info.  my 'my lowes' card. post-its with all our new medical contacts' information. a business card for the local fitness place with free child care (because i like to pretend it will come in useful someday).  lists of books and websites i want to check out.  a calendar of friends' birthdays and anniversaries. and...yikes...some really old thank you notes i forgot to send after finneas was born.  whoops.  i guess i need to clean this out more often.

the first section is for cleaning and home maintenance.  it contains checklists for seasonal cleaning (i like to do a really really thorough cleaning of my house twice a year, that way i feel less guilty letting it go to crap the rest of the time) and maintenance schedules for our mechanicals and the physical structure of our house.

the second section is for food and groceries. i'll talk more about our actual menu planning later this week.  i don't keep that stuff in here. mostly, i keep contact info for local farms/farmer's markets and price reference sheets for places like trader joe's, azure standard, and the like.  that way, if i'm at the amish store or something and see gluten free oats, i can remember how much i can get them for in bulk other places to know whether or not it's actually a good deal.  i just take the plastic pocket with my price lists with me when i go to new places, and i update it as prices change or i find a cheaper source.

the third section is for home decor and design, but it's basically a catch-all for random stuff around the house.  i keep instructions for not killing my houseplants, dimensions of my kitchen counters for the glorious day when i can replace them with butcher block, lists of house projects i'm hoping to get to someday, and paint chips, receipts, and other reference stuff for current decorating projects.

i keep those little reference tags for houseplants in a business card organizer so i can see names and care instructions at a glance.  i toss them when i inevitably kill the plant they belong to.

i used this book as color inspiration for the kids' room, and have been using the paint chips for reference when i'm making decisions on paint, fabric, etc.

the fourth section is for long-term planning.  two resources i absolutely love are alexandra stoddard's book living a beautiful life: 500 ways to add order, elegance, beauty and joy to every day of your life (yeah, the title really is that long and the cover really is that pastel) and mark driscoll's 'reverse-engineering your life and marriage' teaching.  (pdf of the questions here).  basically, both resources force you to think about what you want to accomplish/what you want your life to look like over the long term, and challenge you to put into motion actions that will get you there.  in this section of my binder, i keep the questions and the answers so i can refer back to them or change them as my long-term plans flex.  (just a personal word of advice: listen to the reverse-engineering sermon and answer the questions with your spouse.  really insightful and gets you on the same page.)

the last section of my binder is for spiritual disciplines, and includes things like bible verses to teach the kids, prayer cards for our sponsored children and sponsored pastors, and notes from sermons/teachings at church that i want to go back and reference.

you will notice that i was inspired to pray ephesians 1:17-20 around the same time that i was also reminded to buy a shop vac filter.  a fine example of the spiritual meeting the mundane, and also my bonkers attention span.

lastly, i have a secondary binder/file folder that i call 'The Plan: B' where i keep all of our warranties, instruction manuals and receipts for major purchases.

some things you may notice that i don't include when comparing it to some of the other ones floating around the internet:

*anything that needs to be referenced on a daily or even weekly basis.  this sucker is huge.  it's unwieldy.  i don't want to have to get it out everyday.

*calendars.  i use a planner that fits in my purse.  or, more recently, a bunch of random post-its stuck every which where.

*recipes. i print off successful pinterest recipes and put them in a binder of their own.  (you'll soon see i kind of have a binder problem.)  they're easier to access at dinner time.

*anything that i know off the top of my head.  why anyone puts instructions for cleaning a toilet in their binder, i'll never know.  why take up more space than necessary in here? relatedly, anything that's generic, universally relevant information, like cleaning how-to's and interesting tips. i have pinterest boards for that stuff.

*sensitive information.  if a burglar wants to know my social security info, he's going to have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands top-secret safe, not just open a binder and browse it like a pottery barn catalog.

*budgeting and bill-paying.  todd does the budgeting, i don't bother my darling little head with the finances.  i'm just here to look pretty.  as if that wasn't obvious.  (seriously, though, the only financial area i'm mostly in charge of is medical expenses, and i have that info in another folder.)

and that's it!  super long post, i know, but hopefully it was slightly interesting.  let me know if you have any questions about it, or if you decide to start one of your own if you haven't already!


todd said...

I am thankful for all of the hard work you put into making our home.

Heather said...

Paige, this is seriously awesome. I am a pile girl. I have most of this same information, but it's in a little pile somewhere... most likely in a drawer. Why haven't I combined it all into a binder? I can see myself adding a school section - I have a small binder for all of their class lists, classroom rules, behavior agreements, homework policies, etc.

I also have a Plan B. It's in a drawer too. Fortunately we have a lot of drawers here.

My sermon notes from yesterday have this scrawled at the bottom: What do you do when your body wants to wiggle? What do you do when your hands just need to touch?

My child with SPD was really movin' and groovin' in church and I wanted to remind myself to discuss his self-help options afterwards. :)

whenjeskasparks said...

i remember when you made that binder. and i was all "holy smokes paige is gonna be awesome at life and i'm not even sure if i'm qualified as an adult yet at 21."
so then i remember when i was dating spencer and assumed i was marrying him (BBNNGHH) i tried to create my own. i think i bought the prettiest binder and the folders and the blah blah blahs because i assumed if it was pretty i would use it.
i printed out like three things and never touched it again.
then i did actually get married to josh (wahoo!) and it's still there... collecting dust in a coffee table turned bench at the foot of my bed covered in what i lovingly named "laundry mountain".

point being, i would love to fill it up the way you have but i haven't. i think it's time to get reinspired and start again.

or you're going to have to start a workshop. sign up fee is bdubs. room for only me. ;)

Anonymous said...

I love organization! I am not on pinterest (I was but failed at it, so I quit), so this is actually nice for me to see.

I have spots for everything and files in a file cabinet but it would be nice for us to have something that is a little more handy than walking down into our dungeon of a basement and finding the file I filed it in.