The truth is that starting with flylady.com's Control Binder, I have been perpetually "working on a system" for.... well, basically since I got married. And it's STILL not perfect, and I STILL have plans for it. But at least now I use it, instead of spending tons of time hole punching things, decorating them, and writing in my best writing to make them look pretty. :)
So what follows will NOT be pretty, and will most likely NOT inspire you to get organized, but instead of talking about being organized and inspiring other people to get organized it actually helped me to get organized myself. (If you want pretty, go back and look for posts on my prayer journals. Now THOSE are pretty.) My goal for these, however, is functional.
So, to begin with, what started out as a Control Journal is now an entire shelf on our homeschool bookshelf. (Seriously. My life is that nuts, and I hardly even leave my house!)
On the far left, recipes and menu plans, grocery lists etc. Next, a little binder for the St Gianna Vocation to Holy Motherhood Group I ran until very recently. Next, Prayer and Ministry Resources, Parapsychology Files (yes, where I keep the creepy notes I take that I know a few of you would kill to read and others of you would rather stick forks in your eyes than read.) Next the Book of Mottoes, a Charlotte Mason technique for keeping quotes and ideas in one place, the Book of Centuries, another Charlotte Mason technique-- this one for keeping track of World Chronology, the kids' binders where I keep their school work, my "School and Home Planner," and a book of Charlotte Mason resources I use regularly. I imagine for other people, these could all amount to ONE binder, but for us, not even remotely. There are also binders that belong to my husband for philosophy and theology, ancient history and literature, and city planning info (he works for the city.) However, I have banished these to other shelves because he refuses to put them in binders that match and type their titles instead of writing them on the spine in pen. Sad? Hilarious? You decide.
Alright, so up first is the School and Home Planner. This is the Binder I use almost every hour.
It opens up to a little plastic envelope where I keep a couple holy cards, extra keys, and scraps of paper with pictures my kids have drawn me that I have sworn to keep forever. :)
Behind it, the Clan Motto, Clan Mission, and Clan Rules, all of which were a collaboration effort between myself and my husband. Well, except for the motto, crest and tartan which kinda came with the bloodline. The Rules are our making--- There are ten, and we SUCK at keeping any of them. But we sure do try.
Then we have the calendar. Some years I can afford to buy a 8.5x11 REAL day planner like the Franklin Covey kind. This year we were pretty broke so I got to use an ACTUAL wall calendar which I got for free in the mail for hosting a rosary rally from America Needs Fatima. :D As you can see, things have slowed down quite a bit around here since dad came down with lung cancer. Nevertheless, this is where appointments, etc get recorded (when I remember to do it. Which is about half the time. The rest of the time appointments are on those stupid tiny appointment cards and in the front of the ziplock envelope I showed you so that at 8 am Monday I can jump out of bed and go "Oh my gosh! I was supposed to be at the OB's today!" and ruffle through it til I find the card and realize I still have a week and a half to go. Come to think of it, that ziplock envelope is looking pretty full. Hmmm.)
Behind that, some chore charts and lesson plan overviews-- nothing specific but more like a guideline for when I get lost along the way.
Behind that is my beloved routine/schedule. I have had a routine/schedule for every single day of every single year of my marriage with high hopes that I would be able to follow it. Instead, I am married to a man who categorically refuses and / or overrides every step of the schedule as I write it. So I have simply never used these. However I continue to faithfully make one for each new season, in the hopes that -- PLEASE GOD PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE---- we will one day have an orderly life in which every morning doesn't consist of him rushing into the kitchen where the kids and I are making breakfast and him shouting: "hurry up and get the kids dressed! We're driving across the state today to [ insert random idea here, like: "look at crab migrations/meet a blacksmith/ learn to rappel/ dig up dinosaur bones/ hear a play in Latin/ do a civil war re-enactment / etc.]! We'll have breakfast on the way, I've got protein bars in the car. Don't look at me like that, coffee is a crutch!"
Then comes the Ashtanga Primary Series. Because, you know....yoga is soothing. And exercise is a must around here. I'm sure hubby would love it if I threw in a bunch of stuff about kettle bells and lifting felled trees. But I 'm not gonna, because I stick to Ashtanga.
After that is a HUGE section with eight dividers dedicated to our homeschool. It includes curriculum, lesson plans, attendance, vaccination records (or not, heehee) field trip notes, and other relevant information pertaining to school. I'll spare you the details. Don't worry, the next part is interesting. :)
Up next? The Couple to Couple League's two page guide to reading your fertility signs/ fertile phase rules for NFP users. Yes, I'm going there. Using this handy guide helps me to nail down the exact dates and times of my fertility so I know when doing the hanky panky is going to get me and hubby into another nine month stretch of madness. Of course, since I'm in one of those stretches right now.... I don't use this much. :)
NFP Charts. Don't mind the insane scribbling in the corners and margins that say things like: "MEGA STRESS," "Tornado," or "PLEASEOHPLEASEOHPLEASEDONTBEPREGNANTYET."
After that comes a series of prayers I use daily with the kids and also the famous Deliverance Questionnaire I use when counseling people who feel they might be struggling with demonic attachments. Again, these are supposed to reflect our daily lives, right? So mine has story ideas for articles I am writing and a deliverance questionnaire I give out--- yours might have scrapbook ideas or party planning ideas. It's just a very individual thing.
Then comes a few pages of coding guides for my inductive Bible Studies. These are an inherent part of the life of a Certified Bible Nerd which, again, you probably don't have/need/want in your own planners but which I use daily.
Behind that a few pages of contacts (address book) and personal info (Credit card numbers etc) that come in handy every day and also a pocket with important documents. This is the binder that goes into the bathroom with us if there is a tornado warning because it contains all our paperwork. (and incidentally as a side note for anyone who is reading and thinking this is the gold mine you've been looking for, we have guns. Lots of guns.)
And lastly, a big plastic envelope where I put all the incoming mail and things that need to be filed. I don't keep things longer than a year, except for a few things which are in our safe. The rest of it goes RIGHT to the trash can, including cards, notes, whatever. We read them, ooo and awwwww, and then get rid of them. We try really, really hard to minimalize clutter around here, especially because we live with a pack rat. At least we know it's not OUR mess, but it's still hard to be around. Anyways, in this envelope are also a basal thermomenter for charting and a couple pens and stamps.
So that's it! The Planner is the big one I use most, but obviously I use the kids' binders daily, the prayer binder daily, and the recipe binder daily.
The kids' binder just contains their schoolwork organized by subjects and personalized so they will enjoy and take pride in them. I might share those another day.
The Recipe Binder is a little funny. We have lists of meals for like, every feast and fast day we observe, guides to etiquette, table setting guides, etc. Then we have info about specialities we make, and literal cut up pages from cookbooks I got sick of looking at, alongside recipe cards collected from friends, magazines, and notes I took on recipes we use. It also has a ten week menu plan guide including a splurge week and a cheap week in two parts for HOT months and COLD months, so I don't have to think too hard about menu planning but don't get bored either. I might share those another day too.
The prayer and ministry binder is probably my favorite and I'll save it for another post as well. It basically contains a guide to our family's liturgical year, prayers we use, a hymnal we made, and articles, notes, and stories we frequently use when teaching or praying for and with people.
That's it! Hope it helped you... the most important thing to remember is that it's more important to BE organized than to GET organized.... you could spend years making beautiful control journals you never use but love to share, or you can-- like my husband-- stick everything in a drawer and actually make it to appointments on time. Home management TOTALLY depends on you.... on what you will do and use.
So my real advice is-- don't think too hard about it. Just DO it.
On the spine of my Planner is a quote from Josemaria that reminds me of that every single day:
Work: things will change, and you'll yield more fruit than before--and it will be more savory.Amen!