Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Home-keeping Keeps ""Home Happy


Organizing Things At Home

Since our recent move to West Virginia, I’ve been busy with many things, getting our new home running efficiently.   My most recent project has involved my “old friend” named The {Family Name} Home Directory & Household Management Book.   

This notebook is the “brain” of my household, has been in constant use for about three decades now, and contains all our important information in one easy-to-use location.   With a busy household like ours, having all the info consolidated in one place has saved me HOURS of time.   The homeroom teacher’s phone number or the softball coach’s address—right there at my fingertips!  I love not digging through our files looking for an obscure account or phone number.  

With moving to a new state, of course, ALL of our “local” information has changed as well as our auto and health insurance.   So I’m in the middle of a major overhaul on our notebook—almost like starting from scratch.  Putting a home directory notebook together requires some effort on the front end of the deal.  But after that, it’s just a matter of keeping it updated—and that’s only needed when you can’t stand the messy notes in the margins anymore!    


GETTING STARTED IS THE EASY PART

Gather the materials.   In fact, you probably have most of what you need already available.    Here are the main ingredients: 

          a three-ring binder (I prefer white with a clear cover)
          a nice piece of 8.5 x 11 stationery (copy paper will work) for the cover page
          copy paper (white or colors, speckles, whatever) for inside pages
          tabbed dividers, semi-optional…to keep things organized
          page protectors, optional… to keep things neat & clean

Get some pretty stationery or scrapbook paper from your local craft store for the front cover.  A sheet might cost you 50-cents—go ahead and splurge.    Themed with your home d├ęcor you’ll think you’re something special every time you use it!   Give yourself permission to buy nicer paper for the inside pages.  I used white stuff with speckles in it one year, and creamy ivory another year.   I felt like a real CEO—a home executive, that is!  


THE HARDEST PART

Gather the information that you’ll keep in this book.   Locate your utility bills, bank statements, school calendars, team rosters, phone books, and websites (etc).   Lots of the things posted on your fridge are great sources.   

Then, using your computer, type up a document using the documents you’ve gathered from your files and your desk and the fridge.    Use underline and bold format options to organize the info.   Then arrange in two columns (sort of like a phone book or a dictionary) so your listing doesn’t waste space on the paper.   Mine looks like this: 

Medical

Chiropractor                                                                989-XXXX
                Dr. Brian Brost, Blair

Dentist                                                                                             .                       
                Dr. Kevin Cook, LaCrosse           1-608-782-XXXX
                Dr. Bill Baxa, Independence                  985-XXXX

Notice I’ve formatted the category heading in a larger fancy font (“shadow” format) so it stands out, and is EASY to locate when I’m on the phone (distracted) or in a hurry.   I also enter the names either in order of how much we use them or in alphabetical order (with the city location).  All of this expedites retrieval.    Multiple entries are listed separately like the one for our dentists.   Include account numbers in this area, too, if you like.


MORE ON FORMATTING YOUR DOCUMENT

Leave a one-inch margin around the edges, plus some “white-space” between categories because it’s visually pleasing and makes locating info easier.   I like mine to be justified on the right margin—rather than ragged.

Also when entry info has changed, or when I learn the doctor’s assistant’s name—while I’m still on the phone with the agent or appointment desk (I actually say something like “could you hold for a moment so I can update my files?”—and they always are polite about it!), I pull the page out of the protector, jot the new number or name in the margin near the entry (using arrows and stars to make sure it’s noticeable).  Then the next time I make a call or when I update the directory (yearly), the info is right where I need it.  


BEFORE HITTING “PRINT”

Proof-read and double-check details.    Clean up the margins (if that sort of thing bothers you).     Add some clip-art if you like that sort of thing.    Add a frame around the page.   Whatever you like---it’s your book!

Once printed, insert the new sheets into page protectors (back to back), then into the three-ring binder.   Page protectors keep the papers neat.   If you don’t use page protectors, then just three-hole punch them on the left side of the paper and in they go!  You might want to add hole reinforcements (little white stickers that encircle the punched-hole).   

Yes, it was that easy.


SAVING THE DIRECTORY

Because you’re going to update this thing from time-to-time, make SURE—when you go to save it—that you give it a name that you’ll remember!   One folder in the word processing section on our computer is called “Deb’s Stuff.”   Within that folder, among other things, is one that’s called “Home Organizer Notebook.”   This is where I file my Home Directory Notebook document as well as a slew of other documents that go in my notebook!     More on that another time.


Tomorrow I’ll post the various categories within my Home Directory Notebook.   So check back for that.


In the meantime:  here is  verse or two from Proverbs 31, to remind you of WHY doing this is part of your job description as a wife and mother:

“A wife of noble character—who can find?  …. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value….She sets about her work vigorously.…She sees that her trading is profitable….She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.   She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness….her husband…praises her.” 

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