Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Works For Me Wednesday: Organization

Wow. It has been a really, really long time since I've linked up with Works For Me Wednesday! To make up for my absence, I thought I'd share several tips at once.

Just kidding. But I do have several tips to share. And most of them deal with paper, which makes me wonder why my house looks the way it does since I have these great organizational skills. (Ha.) Which leads me to...

A disclaimer: I am what you could call selectively organized. The things I'm going to share with you are things I am highly organized with. This is not a reflection of what the rest of my life looks like. If you have ever seen my home, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The Mom's Notebook is my notebook for household management. You know the organization systems that have you using index cards and an index card box? Those never worked for me. I took the basic idea and used a notebook instead. I had Avery notebook tabs labeled alphabetically on hand, but you can make your own if you'd like--I've made tabs using different shades of construction paper. The tabs came with a table of contents page:

Click on image to enlarge.

I write the contents of the notebook beside the corresponding letter of the alphabet so I can see at a glance what is in the notebook. Each letter of the alphabet has at least one sheet of notebook paper filed there, ready to be used. "Attendance" is filed under "A" and this is where I keep our homeschool attendance forms, with enough copies printed for the entire school year, ready to complete. (I keep stamps and addressed envelopes for mailing these attendance forms in the back pocket of my Mom's Notebook, too.) "Wish lists" is filed under "W" and this is where I have made a note of a gift idea for a family member at any time during the year. I also keep an information sheet for the babysitter that has things like our cell phone numbers, a neighbor's name and phone number, snacks the kids are allowed to have, bedtime routines and bed times for each child. My Mom's Notebook is a view binder, and I keep the babysitter sheet as the back cover of the notebook so it's handy and I actually remember to use it. I tried using the notebook to keep track of things like changing the A/C filter, but I still do better making a note on our calendar of when things like that need to be changed.


My Mom's Notebook is standing on the kitchen counter next to my Recipe Notebook. With all of the recipes available online (printed on printer paper), I stopped using a recipe box years ago. I use a view binder for this, too; when I am using a recipe, I slip the recipe page into the front cover so the recipe stays clean. I made tab dividers for the various sections (Chicken, Ground meat, Desserts...) and, in addition to the recipes on printer paper, I keep a sheet protector in each section to be a pocket for recipe cards or recipes cut out of magazines. I will not copy everything onto full-sized sheets of paper just so it will fit in my notebook!


I keep a simple piece of paper with the days of the week labeled (and covered with clear self-adhesive film) to keep track of leftovers in the refrigerator with a dry erase marker...a customized homemade dry erase board. I keep the dry erase marker inside a nearby cabinet so I will actually use it. Please use prettier magnets than mine.


I keep a master list of most of my homeschool resources in a database file. We generally keep out only the resources we are currently using since we don't have a separate room for "homeschooling." The rest of the resources are stored anywhere I can find the space: in boxes in the garage, in one of the bookcases in the kitchen, or in the lower cabinet area of the china cabinet in the living room. With this list, I know where everything is and can find whatever I'm looking for within a few minutes. I have a printed copy that I can take with me when I know I will be shopping for resources (used book sales, Goodwill, etc.) so I can buy things we actually need and not pick up any duplicate items. I can sort this list by grade, subject, storage location, etc.

This image shows one page of my master list before I prepared for the current school year. I had a box in the garage labeled '10 for this school year. Now, all of those books have been updated on my master list and are marked as "USING." The other boxes are labeled with the grades that make sense for the size of box they are in, such as 1st-4th, 5th, and Middle School.

Click on image to enlarge.

If I were not selectively organized, I'm sure this list of homeschool resources would be neatly filed away in my Mom's Notebook. Instead, it lives on top of the computer desk...but that still works for me!

Do you have any tips to share?


Mom2fur said...

I don't have littles at home any more, but I do have some things in binders. It's just such a neat way to store things. One tip I use is to store paid bills in a binder. Each utility goes into its own plastic sleeve, with the latest bill on top. This way, if I need to go back and find something, I just have to flip the pages. At the end of the year, the bills are either tossed or filed. (We're keeping our electricity, for example, to show any prospective home buyers in the future.)

laughwithusblog said...

Oh my goodness! You are incredibly organized. I am not right now. I keep saying I need to a plan to help keep everything on track. Some of these balls I'm juggling inevitably get dropped and lost! :) Thank you for your thoughts on homeschooling!

Kathleen said...

Hello, my name is Kathleen, and I too am a Selective Organizer!! :) But, true, it gives the idea to everyone else that we are organized on all fronts. Which also poses the problem of high expectations. Hmmm...

Anyway. My tip? I have just begun using to organizing all of my recipes. From there, I make menus, and it prints my shopping list for me--organized by grocery store aisle! I love it! :)

Nichole said...

That looks exceptionally organized! I'm impressed.

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