Get Organized with Household Notebook

Simple, basic and even low-tech, the high-powered information manager serves as "command central."

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Household BinderEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - House Works © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited A Household Notebook serves as command central for the entire family.

Organized people use a personal planner: a small book that contains information, calendars and schedules to help them stay organized. Organized households need a planner, too: a Household Notebook. Containing calendars, schedules, checklists and information of all kinds, a Household Notebook serves as “command central” for the entire family. It’s the place to go, when you need to know.

While each family’s organizer will be unique, most are simple three-ring notebooks with several divider sections. Because they’re infinitely expandable, household notebooks become as distinctive as the family that uses them. A family with school-aged children involved in dance, music and sports will include organizer sections for rehearsal and practice schedules, summer activity ideas and DVDs to-rent lists. A two-career couple with preschool children may add baby-sitter and day-care dividers and an emergency telephone list to their household notebook. Empty-nesters will rely on packing checklists for vacations, home repair records and gift idea lists for far-flung children and grandchildren.

By compiling and storing family information in a central location, life at home benefits. No more searching for scraps of paper or mislaid permission slips. Information is always right where it belongs: in the Household Notebook.

Create Your Own Household Notebook

To create your family’s Household Notebook, start with a three-ring binder, some clear plastic page protectors, paper and tabbed dividers.

Add dividers. Using tabbed dividers from the office supply store, set up dividers according to your family’s needs. Each family grows their own family organizer; expect divider categories to change along with your family. Some suggested dividers are listed on the following pages, but your family is unique, so the dividers you choose will reflect that. Be sure to place a few clear page protectors behind each divider section.

Add paper. Start with a calendar, and add pages or forms to record information. At OrganizedHome.Com, you’ll find free printable calendars, forms, and checklists to jumpstart your Household Notebook. Computer users may use desktop publishing programs to create information forms; others can use simple lined paper to create pages for their notebook. Finally, add clear plastic page protectors to each section. Found at office supply and variety stores, they make it easy to track checklists, display schedules, and view product manuals.

Ready to begin? Once the dividers and page protectors are in place and you’ve added calendars and basic forms, you’re ready to begin. Gather all scattered slips and scraps of paper: pizza menus and business cards, school handouts and church bulletins, class schedules and scout camp brochures. Enter information in the Notebook, writing phone numbers on the correct phone directory pages, punching and filing club calendars, slipping magazine articles into page protectors.

Be creative! Add dividers that express your household’s priorities and needs. Planning home-improvement projects? Add an “HGTV” divider, and store snips and swatches in page protectors. Use Master To-Do and Daily To-Do lists in any divider to keep track of ongoing projects and goals, while blank lined pages hold information not covered by a specific form.

Keep your Household Notebook near the family’s main telephone and family calendar to guide family activities and decisions. A cupcake request from the Cub Scout den mother? Note it on the calendar, and add “cake mix” to the shopping list. Planning a Friday-night date with your spouse? Open the folder to the baby-sitter’s information page and review emergency information with the baby-sitter before you leave.

Dividers for Your Notebook

Every Notebook will reflect the unique family that builds it, but these suggested dividers will cover most information needs:

Emergency information. Keep emergency information in the first section of the Household Notebook. Include a list of emergency phone numbers (including your home address, to assist rescue personnel; baby-sitter’s checklists with contact information; phone listings for health care providers and information about emergency procedures).

Calendar and planning. Calendar and planning notes are the heart of a Household Notebook, so set up a Calendar and Planning divider. What belongs here? A monthly calendar, a page protector with your checklists, and a section for to-do lists lives in Calendar and Planning. Use a three-hole punch to add work schedules, school calendars and events lists for church and civic activities. Goal: to have a one-stop location for all planning information for each day, week and month.

Telephone divider and address book. Calling all telephone numbers! The Telephone Directory is the most useful, most-consulted section of any Household Notebook. The Telephone Directory is a single place to put class rosters, take-out telephone numbers, club directories and lists of emergency telephone numbers. Include an address book in your Notebook, to keep track of family and friends. Don’t stop with mere names, addresses and telephone numbers. Add personal information like babies’ names, birthdays and e-mail addresses to stay in touch with family and friends.

Make It Yours

With basic address book functions tucked away, custom-tailor the Notebook for your household’s needs. Your Notebook may include dividers for these activities:

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Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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