Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home Management Notebook Pages: Calendar and Daily Docket

Click here to dowload Important Dates template
Most of my dividers are double sided. In other words, they say the name of the section and have the same design on each side (which you can see and dowload in the Skeleton section) But here I chose to use the back side of the divider to house my Important Dates overview. I made this one from scratch, finding nothing I really wanted to emulate. It may be difficult to see here, and I apologise for the glare, but there are 4 columns. The first two have the header {birthdays} and the second two are headed by {anniversaries} There is a triple divider between. Then each of the columns has 6 sections, each labeled by one month of the year.  Then I simply filled in the dates that pertain to my family.  The download is blank and unfortunately, I'm not sure how to make it a typeable document, so either you can handwrite your dates, or you can modify it in whatever word processing document you have on your computer.

Click here to download the 2012 Calendar
I couldn't find a calendar that I really liked. At first I was going to use the one from Life...Your Way, but then I realized I needed a little more than just a few squares with numbers in them if this was really going to work for me.  I also didn't like having to turn my binder sideways to look at the calendar properly.  I needed a 2 page spread, which is what I created here. This Calendar might take a little getting used to, since I started it on Monday and both Saturday and Sunday are on the right, but that's how my life works, so that's how I laid it out.  Feel free to download it or not, and tweak it as you wish.  I included lines for notes or reminders at the bottom and an eighth column at the right to remind me of important dates coming up next month, such as birthdays and anniversaries (to buy and send cards) or holidays or if Nathan has to go out of town or whatever. Especially if they're at the beginning of the month I hate turning the page and realizing that I've forgotten something important and I'm completely unprepared.  For example, My In-laws' wedding anniversary is April 1st!  That card definitely needs to go out mid to late March, and so on.  All US holidays are in the appropriate date box. I opted to leave off Jewish and Canadian holidays because neither of them pertain to me as well as things like Rosh Hoshanna.  No offense if you celebrate them.  Quick side note: I wasn't sure if I was going to include my Daily dockets between the months or have all the months together and then have the Daily Dockets behind. If you want to have your monthly calendars together and your printer can do double sided printing, print out page 1 first, by itself. then print the remaining pages double sided. That way you won't have blank pages between, and you'll be able to see your entire 2 page spread for a single month all at once. It will use less paper that way, too! :)
Click here to download my Daily Docket
This is my daily docket. I stole it from Simple Mom, but changed a few things. If you want to see hers just follow that link up there. :)
First of all is my TO DO list for the day, it may be things from my Master To Do list, phone calls and errands Nathan has asked for my help on, or something from my calendar, etc. As Tsh points out on her blog, the important thing is to keep the list short--no more than 10 things in addition to my daily routines--it's less overwhelming that way, and I'm more likely to actually feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing my to do list for the day. Then I go through and pick out the 3 most important things. Things that absolutely MUST get done today and put them on the Most Important Things list at the top of the page. Requests that Nathan has made are usually at the top. Since his Love Language is Acts of Service, part of my efforts to show my love in tangible ways is to make sure his requests are a priority.
There is a space to write down what's for dinner today and what's for dinner tomorrow to keep me mindful of what I need to do for prep work. Maybe I need to soak some beans or get some meat out of the freezer or whatever.
I'm trying to start memorizing a scripture verse a week or a passage in a month or two, depending on the length so since I look at the docket several times daily, I included a space for scripture.
There is a section titled "reminders" for things from my personal growth goals or maybe something I'm trying to work on with one of the boys.
The small box in the center helps me to be mindful of health and fitness. I find I have to force myself to drink especially in the winter. I never have enough to drink in a day, so I included 8 little pictures of water glasses that I can cross off to remind me do get my 8 glassses a day. Under "workout" I can plan my excercise deliberately.
And in case of an appointment or two, or a bunch--depending on the day-- I included a section for appointments or a general plan of what time I'd like to start certain routines or whatever.
Finally, there's a "notes" section at the bottom for when the phone rings or if I think of something or whatever. Then later I can transfer the important stuff that needs to be saved to the other sections.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Home Management Notebook

If you follow any organizing or homekeeping type blogs, you've probably heard of a Home Management Notebook (or Homemaking Journal or Family Binder) there are a dozen names for them. So, this won't really be a new idea to you, but I'm going to share mine with you, because it's such a huge part of how I plan to meet my goals for the New Year. 
I have always loved planners.  They're so cute. They're for organized people, which I desperately want to be  I can really waste some time looking at them online and in Office Supply Stores! I've bought a handful of them over the years, and I always intend to use them, but it lasts a couple weeks, maybe and then I put them aside.  They're not designed for me. I don't have bunches of daily appointments I'm a mom, and before that I was a student.  I had class schedules that were pretty unvarying, and a set work schedule. I have always been a list maker, but I don't have much interest in handwriting a bunch of phone numbers and addresses in the back of my planner every time I get a new one, so that was a huge waste of space. I would always look at the daily planning sheets and think of ways I could change it to make it usable for me, but I never actually thought I could do that. With the Home Management Notebook, I can! The great thing about these Journals is that I can tailor them completely to suit what I need. In most ways, I think my HMN is pretty similar to most you will see out there; but it differs in a couple of important ways.

I recently read a statistic that basically said every one minute you spend on organization will save you 10 minutes down the road.  I believe it!! If I take the time to sit down in the morning and make a list of things that need to be done that day, most of them will get crossed off.  If I just take things as they come, nothing gets done! So I took an inventory of all the hats I wear. I was not being truly efficient in all of those roles! Sometimes I find myself staring into space wondering where to start. Which is the most important? Should I start "A" or "B" first? Which will take longer? It's kind of discouraging when I lose track of time, or when I completely forget about the phone call Nathan asked me to make until he walks in the door at night. Mental clutter. I'm trying to store everything that needs to be done, what time, details in my brain, and then on top of that there are the things that I really would like to do. No wonder my husband teases me about being so forgetful. I really would forget my head if it weren't attached, sometimes!So, the number one reason for making this Home Management Notebook was ... to make me a better, more efficient home manager.  That's my job, after all! The best way to do that is to keep everything all in one spot so that I always know exactly where to find what I need.
The first difference in my HMN is that it is only part of a larger system. I'll go more into that later.
Probably the main difference between my HMN and others that I've looked at is size.  I've seen them from 1" to 2" binders. The problem I see with that, is they're too bulky to carry around.  I want to be able to have mine on hand at all times so that when something comes to mind, I can write it down before I forget ... because I will forget! Or if someone calls me on the phone, I can take notes -- even if I'm not at home. Or if I'm chatting with one of my girlfriends at church and we want to set up a coffee date, or a playdate, or ... whatever, I can check my schedule and/or write stuff down right then. So, instead of a conventional 1" or 2" binder, I opted for 5.5" by 8.5" binder with 1" rings.
This posed a bit of a problem, since about all the printables available either for free, or to purchase online are 8.5"X11".  So I made my own.  Basically, I found a look that I liked on Life ... Your Way and imitated it. Actually, I downloaded all of the forms from there that I felt pertained to me and used them as models. I copied them pretty closely, but with a few minor alterations and in a smaller size.Then I took other forms that I liked and did the same, modifying the fonts and such so that they matched. It might not be a big deal for some, but I wanted a theme in my binder, not just random forms.  Anyway, they will be up here on my blog for free download very soon.
It's important for everyone to come up with their own categories that will work for their specific needs, but here is what I came up with. This is a general overview, later I'll put links with pictures.
The very first page in my HMN is my Mission Statement.  I keep it here as a visual reminder every time I open my notebook -- several times a day -- of the best version of myself, and who I am trying to become.  The whole reason for having the notebook in the first place!
Calendar: Here I keep a simple monthly calendar with Holidays. It has a column on the far right side for important dates coming up in the next month and an area for notes at the bottom. I also keep my daily dockets in this section. And a list of birthdays and anniversaries by month.
Routines: this is invaluable to me. Instead of a set schedule for every day, I need felxibility, but I can't keep the clutter of the daily mundane in my head, or little things will get over looked.  A lot of my ideas for this section came from the FlyLady. A few others came from Pinterest :).
Menus: Here I keep my master meal plans, monthly meal plans, and daily meal plans with shopping list.
Planning: My master to do list, you know, as well as lists of projects I want to complete. I have them categorized by crafting, home improvement & decorating, and personal growth goals (this includes spiritual growth).  I also have a list titled Christmas in July.  I'll have a post on that later.
Shopping: this is just where I store extra copies of my simple, two column shopping lists.
Notes: Agan, very simple, but I want to have everything in one place. I'm sick of bits of paper here and there and never being able to find the one I need!
Cleaning: This is my cleaning routine.  Again, I will have a post later on how this works for me. I took several ideas for this section from FlyLady as well.
Maintenance: Here's where I keep a written record of maintenance done to the van, and to the house.  So when something comes up, I know exactly where to find out what we've had done, when,  how much it cost, and who did it.
Inventories: I'm keeping an inventory of my pantry and freezer so I never run out of staples, and so that I don't buy duplicates. A quick check to these lists when I'm making my shopping lists will keep me from wasting money, or from frustration when I go to make a mean, only to discover I don't have what I thought I did. Also in this section I will eventually have a complete inventory of clothing that I have for the boys, so if I run across some good sales or a great yard sale, I'll be able to purchase exactly what I need rather than guessing and trying to remember -- more mental clutter!
Garden: Right now this is empty, but I hope to fill it with plans for a vegetable garden, frost dates in spring and fall, and flowers and shrubs that worked and those that didn't.
Blogging: Blogging by the seat of my pants didn't work.  It's more mental clutter and I would constantly come up with ideas for blog posts, then forget what they were before I had a chance to write them. Here I keep a comprehensive list of ideas. I'll share my form with you later.
Account Info: This one I went back and forth on for quite a while, I wasn't sure I wanted to keep it in something I carry everywhere, but I need it with me in case I'm out.  I you struggle with remembering all my user names and passwords for websites that I use? I'm afraid to ever change them for fear I'll forget what they are and I tend to use the same 2 or 3 for everything.  More mental clutter trying to remember all that stuff all the time!  I keep another copy in my Bill Pay Binder just in case my HMN is ever lost or stolen, I can quickly change all my passwords and not worry so much about hackers and identity thieves.
Financial: I'm tracking my spending for a while so I can figure out exactly where the money I'm spending is going. We've done this before and it is really effective.  I have a really good budget on mint.com which I highly recommend, but sometimes I end up wondering how I went over in "that category" or forget that iIbought this or that.  I also think we might have need for a few additional categories in our budget. This is a means to an end and temporary or intermittent, but I think it's important to keep it available if we ever need it.
Contacts: I bought a few pages of business card holders for day planners. They fit perfectly in here so that when we find a contractor we like I can just stick his business card in there and I know who to call if I have a problem! I thought about keeping my Christmas card list here, but I think I'll opt for a shorter list of people I send mail to often.  I keep important phone numbers in my cell, so I have absolutely no need for phone numbers, but I usually find myself texting someone at the P.O. when I need to send a letter or a package, and it sure would be useful not to have to do that all the time. 
Also, I have a clear zippered pouch in the back for coupons.  I don't do a whole lot of couponing, b/c most coupons are for things I don't buy.  But I do save coupons for things like toothbrushes and razors, so that when there's a sale I can stock up.  That's something I don't feel like I should ever pay full price for.  I also get the coupon booklets from Earth Fare, and there are usually a few things in there I'll buy.  So I keep them in the notebook and have them available at all times.

Last couple of things: I bought some of these nifty pen holders and mounted one to the inside back cover of my binder so that I always have a pen. (side note: I do wish I had mounted it to the inside front cover of the binder!).  No more hunting all over the house for a pen everytime I need to write something down! I treated myself to pack of these really cute pens. This is mommy's pen and no one else touches it! I also found this cute miniature clip board in the $1 section at target, and I slipped it inside the pocket on the front cover of my binder. Then I mounted it there permanently with double sided tape, so it won't fall out.  This holds the shopping list I'm using currently, and right now it is holding some oversized reciepts for work we had done on the house and car recently, until I get to filing them in my Bill Binder for future reference.
Here's how I put it all together.
Do you have a Home Management Notebook? How does it serve you?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Do You Have a Mission Statement?

 As I was putting together my new system for a fresh start I had lots of ideas that I had pulled together from here, there, and everywhere, but it lacked direction! I knew that if I was going to make a system that would really, actually work for me, I needed to know where I was going, but all I had were vague ideas and transient, dream-like aspirations ... that is until I read this post; at one of my very favorite blogs -- Keeper of the Home. A light went on! Now, I didn't actually give myself a planning retreat. But I did carve out a few hours on a couple of different days and make myself a mission statement. I loved the idea as soon as I heard it, but honestly I had no way to go about it. Lucky for me, Kat @ Inspired to action has a free e-book : mission statements for moms that I took full advantage of.
I love this quote from the book "Having a mission statement is like having the best version of yourself beside you on your worst days, encouraging you to press on and pointing to the goal." How great is that? So when you make your mission statement, don't worry about how doable it seems, just set your loftiest goals out there! If you don't aim high, you'll never attain.  And you're not setting yourself up for failure, because it's not about getting it all done at once.  Remember, this is not your New Years resolution, this is the mission statement for your life. It's everything you ever want to be in all your roles, beneath all those hats you wear, you superwoman, you!
Kat includes several examples of mission statements that other women have written, as well as her own, to serve as inspiration to you. I don't mind telling you, that even though I had plenty I wanted to say, I was having trouble wording it just so, and I shamelessly copied a few phrases from other women.  I tweaked them a bit later, but there's nothing wrong with that, as long as the end product is your personal goals.  
My mission statement is the very first page in my Home Management Notebook, and it is the backbone of everything that will follow on my blog this year. So here it is for your perusal.

With the grace and help of God,

As a Christian, I pledge to make Jesus my first priority and be more like Him so that my life will testify of Him in all that I do; to regularly and faithfully intercede on the behalf of others; and to cultivate a heart of gratitude daily.

As a Wife, I pledge to nurture my marriage by showing Nathan my love and respect in tangible ways, and allowing myself to be vulnerable with him. I pledge to listen well, submit to his authority, and make his requests a priority; I pledge not to set him up for failure with unreasonable expectations.

As a Mother, I pledge to embrace this season of my life as a blessing while my children are still young, and I am still their whole world; to delight in my children, taking time for fun, and showing them grace and loving, consistent, merciful discipline; to raise my boys to be selfless, joyful, productive men who will cherish their wives and glorify God.

As a Teacher, I pledge to learn alongside my children; to give them a good working knowledge of themselves and the world, and how they are to relate to it; and to patiently instill in them a love of learning that will allow them to grow intellectually, and give them confidence to fulfill the call of God in their lives.

As a Keeper At Home, I pledge to create and maintain a clean, peaceful and beautiful home sanctuary to welcome family and visitors alike, and to practice generous hospitality; I pledge to save money wherever possible, while providing delicious, healthy, nourishing food for my family; and to engage in regular exercise and creative activities that help me feel motivated, invigorated and renewed.

So, that's it. Put it in a prominent place and live with it for a while. Make sure you love it.  Then we'll talk about how to use it to set your goals or New Years Resolutions based on what the most important things are in your life.
Do you already have a mission statement or something similar? How does it help you in your daily life and in your goal setting? 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Happy New Year! I know, I'm a little late, but it's better late than never, I always say! :D Have you made any new years resolutions? I know I have!! And some of them pertain to this blog. In case you haven't noticed, I've been away from the blog since mid-August.  There are plenty of reasons for that -- some of them having to do with my computer going completely haywire ... some not. Suffice it to say I've got ideas and I'm about to roll with 'em! I am pledging to you right now that I will post something bi-weekly, at the very least, every month this year, and Lord willing, more often than that!
So, resolutions. They're a big thing this time of year, but honestly, in a few weeks, most have already fallen off the bandwagon.  Most have to do with losing a tremendous ammount of weight or "getting healthy" with no real game plan. But as Dave Ramsey says "a goal without a plan is just a dream". I haven't made too many New Years resolutions over the course of my life. I don't really know why. But particularly in the last couple of years it seems very important to take this fresh year and make a fresh start.  It doesn't have to be a new year to make a fresh start, so if you're reading this in July, now is as good a time as any! Jump in! :) Anyway, this year is especially so, since I'm starting my year (well, february is close enough!) in a new home. At the beginning of November, my husband was transferred to Alabama, so we've been in a state of limbo for a while here. He's travelling during the week and coming home on the weekends; we're selling a house here in TN and looking for a new one over there. Nothing feels permanent and I am so ready for my fresh start! But I'll tell you one thing, I don't want to get overwhelmed with all that I have to do and give up. I also don't want to go to the other extreme and not even make a goal. So I have been doing a lot of reading and research over the last months (and really this was in the works before -- but the move, and new year amplified everything) and I've been working on a system to keep me organized and on track.  And I'm going to be sharing it with you.
You see, when I started this blog I had high aspirations of losing weight and getting fit. I had a sort-of plan, but it pertained only to that specific portion of my life and didn't take into account everything else that I already have going on. It didn't work out, because I simply couldn't figure out a way to fit it into my already hectic, crazy life. And that's where my new system comes in! Next post I'll share the first part of that with you.
What are some of your resolutions? And how do you plan to stick with them?  I'd love to be inspired by you!