Household binders have become increasingly popular. In the light of Pinterest and YouTube, household binders have become a form of art with perfectly coordinating colors, categories, and an illusion of ultimate control…and then there’s my version 🙂
Mine is far less attractive but serves extremely useful in my household and keeps me sane. I started my binder with a traditional packet of pre-made sheets that I purchased and downloaded from Etsy and then have added some of my own self-made templates. It seems to be something you evolve with until you find what works best in your household.
If you haven’t, yet, check out my article on household management. This is a great reference for anyone needing a better grip on their days. Life seems to move in fast forward and I hate the feeling of chasing after my day, while tripping over disorganized dysfunction. If any of that sounds familiar, that article will serve as a launching point for incorporating practices that will put you back in control of your week. One of the tips mentioned is to start a household binder.
What is a household binder?
As useful as a household binder is, you would think it was a lot more complicated to explain. But it’s not! A household binder is a single location that houses documents related to the scope of your categories. A single location can be an actual binder, a folder, a drawer, or an electronic equivalent. I like my 3-ring binder because I can easily add and remove print offs or blank sheets, which are especially helpful if I need some room to brainstorm or bullet journal. Lastly, the scope of your contents will vary depending on what you use your binder for. The list of uses is really endless. Check out this list by The Mom Planner. Although this is a few years old, the categories are still relevant.
As you can see, household binders can become really extravagant. However, I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that complicated 🙂 I get really overwhelmed when I see lists like this because it makes me feel like unless I do all of that then I might as well give up. Because of this, I have to take bite-size pieces and only add things that I know will be helpful to me and my household. Similarly, I only add things that I know I will be able to maintain. There’s no sense in creating a stress trigger for yourself! Overall, effectiveness is key! This is what makes my binder and process a REALLY good outline for realistic moms and families to follow.
Keep it simple. Here are some basic categories that can jump start the organization in your home.
- Family resources. (doctor, electrician, mortgage company, etc.) I organize the payment of household bills and am usually the scheduler of home maintenance appointments. I try to think, if I wasn’t available, where is a single location of contacts for bills, maintenance, doctor, daycare, school, etc.
- Meal planning. I cannot be trusted to walk aimlessly through a store or I will impulse buy, over spend and have buyer’s remorse immediately after. This is an exaggeration. Kind of. I find that spending just a little bit of time planning ahead saves me a LOT of money and time later on. Because of this, every Sunday night, I plan 3 – 4 meals for the upcoming week and use the Walmart Grocery Pickup app to schedule my pickup after my work day on Monday. As a result, I’m armed with quick weekday meals, I’m able to manage grocery expense by the cart total, and I save precious time and frustration by never having to step food in a store!
- Birthday/Gift list. I’m the worst at remembering dates and solely depending on my phone’s calendar is a mistake! Every month, I look at my birthday list page to plan gift pick up and determine budget. By anticipating birthdays, I can be more mindful of scheduling time to buy a gift and actually have thoughtful gift versus buying ‘something’ last minute. Also, when gifts are on your radar, you’re able to budget for them versus it being an ‘unexpected’ expense. Keeping an ongoing Christmas list keeps the season less stressful!
- Household organization. This is one of my favorite sections because it contains all things cleaning, home maintenance, and to do’s. I love lists and checking boxes – anyone else?! Ha! This is where I keep a weekly cleaning list, a monthly home maintenance list and the annual home care schedule. Now, please don’t mistake my effort with perfection, as there are plenty of boxes that go unchecked. However, having a schedule in front of me keeps things from being overlooked (think air filter, smoke alarm batteries, etc.). There are a number of pre-made lists that you can find on Pinterest or with a Google search.
- Budget! This is probably my favorite section, as it’s my biggest challenge! I used to keep my money in an excel tracker, which made sense. It was calculated automatically and all in one spot, etc. However, I got WAY more involved with my financial goals when I was touching it much more frequently versus updating a spreadsheet once or twice a month. Plus, this is a super fun section to incorporate bullet journaling: debt tracker, savings tracker, wants versus needs, etc. If you have an interest in bullet journaling, check out this article that goes into more depth.
Start your household binder today!
It sounds deceiving that spending time can save you time, but think of it as an investment. You invest your money to make you more money. Time is no different but way more valuable! When we add organization and proactive measures to our days/weeks/lives we are able to spend more time living in the moment – can you imagine, being present with your family and not stressing over your list of to do’s?! Organization is able to get you to this point. However, do not feel pressured to get here overnight. This is a process of evolution. A result of a million small steps in the right direction. A favorite quote of mine is, “a constant drip hallows the stone.” Investing a small amount of time each day to maintain a household binder will payout in dividends every time!
Establish your household binder purpose.
The first step to creating a binder is to understand what you want the purpose to be. Refer back to the list of categories. What would help your household run smoother and give you peace of mind?
Again, don’t feel the need to do everything right now. This is something you can grow into. In fact, it may be best to make a running list of the things you would like to complete and pick the top 3 priorities for right now. Then, as time goes on you can incorporate new items or may find that some of those things aren’t as practical as you originally thought.
I would encourage you to start with things that will yield payouts immediately. For example, if meal planning would take a huge weight off of your shoulders during the week then make that a top priority. Next, if you want to start tackling the cleaning lists, this is a great area to do some experimenting to find what works best in your household. I’ve tried a dozen different cleaning schedules. What works best for me is limited pick up during the week and 2 hours during the weekend where I can put my ear buds in and deep clean the house. For me, this is almost therapeutic. It because a really enjoyable time to take care of my home and jam out.
Gather your supplies.
There’s nothing complex about this step. You can be as basic or elaborate as you’d like. I’ve added some simple resources below. These are quick items to add to your cart and they’ll be there in just a few days. However, don’t stop this process just because you don’t have things on hand. For example, if you want to use a binder but don’t have one right at the moment, keep putting things together and transfer items into a binder at a later time. I want to emphasize this because a lot of people will hold themselves back from making the first step of something new just because they don’t feel like they have everything they need for a perfect start. Don’t add this stress to your day 🙂 Just get started and your process will evolve and grow with you. Don’t put the constraint of perfection on yourself!
Learn and Evolve.
Give yourself grace and freedom to do some experimenting over the next few weeks to feel out what is beneficial for your household. Encourage yourself to spend consistent time investing in this tool and it’s sure to pay off. I spend about 10 – 15 minutes each night flipping through and making any needed updates. Overall, this provides plenty of time to think through the upcoming week/month and plan accordingly. I feel good knowing that I’m prepared to handle what I’m able to anticipate and that I won’t be as rocked when life throws curve balls. Plus, it’s only 10 – 15 minutes….you spend way more time on social media! Do a simple swap of activities during this time and it will make a world of difference for you and your family!
Resources. Jumpstart your household binder!
Get started with this value pack. This is a 3 ring binder, 20 sheet protectors and 8 multi-color tabs. This only comes in black and white, which is a little boring. However, I’ll be honest, the color of my binder (which is plain white) has never discouraged me from organizing my day! This makes it easy to get started and the sheet protectors create the ability to use washable markers for weekly or monthly pages versus having to reprint. That’s a time savings!! Order here and have this delivered to your door!
UnfortunatelyIf you’re looking to jump start your binder, I recommend Etsy. Someone has already done the work of making the templates and, bonus, they’re already pretty! All you have to do is buy, download and print. I spent a lot of time finding a pack that was close to what I wanted and then was able to pick and choose which forms I actually printed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find my exact pack because it’s been a few years now but I found THIS pack, which is very similar. It’s 14 pages total, which tells me it’s manageable for me. In contrast, some packs are upwards of 50 pages. I’m not equipped to wrap my head around 50 pages. This is a quick and affordable way to save yourself some time. Again, Esty has endless options of packs available.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you did, make sure to share of your FaceBook and Pinterest account so other ladies can be inspired too! We have to be so protective of our time and energy so that we can give the best to our families. If you want more self-care or organization tips then visit often, and remember, YOU are a lady well-loved.