Why You Need a Home Management Binder - And How to Make One
Imagine the scene: You are awakened in the middle of the night by a persistent beeping sound. After confirming that it's not the smoke detectors, you discover that your new smart refrigerator is making the increasingly annoying sound. But why? You try pressing buttons, opening and closing doors, and nothing works. You then search for the owner's manual, which is eventually found in a pile of papers underneath your desk, and manage to figure out the source of the beeping and fix the problem. It only took two hours, and you have a full 45 minutes before it's time to get up for work.
Or maybe you are getting ready for a weekend getaway, and you need a copy of the dog's vaccination records for the kennel or a list of important numbers for the house sitter. Instead of packing for the trip, you're searching around the house for the paperwork. You leave stressed and certain that you missed something.
These are just a couple examples of what can happen when you aren't organized. Although there are plenty of ways to go about keeping your household in order, one of the best and most convenient tools is a home management or household binder.
What's a Home Management Binder?
A home management binder is exactly what it sounds like: A binder that contains all of the information needed to make the household run smoothly. Every binder is different, but generally speaking, it's made up of sections dealing with appliances, medical information, pet information, school information, calendars and schedules, important contacts, finances and more. Some people like to include a section for menu planning, for instance, while others include to-do lists. The idea is that the binder serves as a "one-stop shop" for all of the key information that you need to keep your home running smoothly, preventing the frantic searches and missed deadlines that are all too common.
Putting together a binder is easy. All you need is a three-ring binder (the larger, the better), a hole punch, section dividers and print-outs of everything you want to include. While you can certainly design your own pages, a quick online search will turn up hundreds of pre-designed printables for everything from calendar pages to cleaning checklists that you can add to your own binder. It's also a good idea to have some plastic sheet protectors or pocket folders in the binder to hold larger documents, like appliance user manuals.
Putting Your Binder Together
Once you've collected everything for your binder, it's time to get organized. The best way to arrange your binder is in order of use; in other words, the front of the binder should have your most important, most used information.
Each section should include key information, such as what follows:
Contacts. List all important contact information, include family cell phone numbers, emergency contacts, work numbers, school numbers, friends and family, utility companies, insurance companies and any other person or business that you might need to contact in an emergency. It's also a good idea to add the number of a Denver handyman service as well as other service providers (lawn company, cleaning service, etc.) so you don't have to search when you need help.
Medical. In this section, list all of the family's medical information, including doctors' names and phone numbers, allergies or medical conditions and prescription information. It's also useful to keep copies of vaccination records and insurance cards here.
Schedules. Some binders include calendar pages to keep track of appointments, etc., but if you don't use your binder every day, or have another system for keeping track of commitments, you should still keep copies of important schedules in the binder. School calendars, sports schedules, club meetings, etc., should all be kept in the binder. You might also make a list of important birthdays and anniversaries, so you never miss an important date. Another good addition is a cleaning schedule, with tasks for each day, week or months.
Finance. A binder is a good place to keep track of the monthly bills and your budget. Store receipts in this section, so you aren't searching for them when tax time rolls around. It's also helpful to keep a list of your accounts, along with account numbers, here so you don't have to look them up when you call companies.
School. In this section, keep all of the information that is pertinent to school, including class lists, schedules, contact information and account information for online homework and gradebook systems. You might also include some pre-printed notes for absences, so you can just fill in the information when you need a note.
Menus. Pre-planning menus can save time and money, and a menu section in your binder keeps you organized. Add a calendar with the week or month's menu plan, create shopping lists and save recipes that you want to try in this section.
Appliances. Finally, add a section to store information about your appliances, including receipts, warranty information and user manuals.
When you're done, your home management binder will be a fairly hefty volume, but you'll have peace of mind knowing that everything can be easily located when you need it. Remember too, that your binder needs to be cleaned out and updated, so schedule some time every few months to make sure it's up-to-date and continues to be useful. You'll feel more organized and in control.