A major life change often forces reexamination of even the most tried and true organizing strategies. The irony is that during a major life change we are likely to say to ourselves, “I don’t have time to get organized” or “things are too crazy right now”, even though organization is what you may need the most.
I can vouch for this because I am in the midst of a huge life change. The influx of paper that comes with a home renovation (on top of a move) is rapidly catching up with me.
I’ve been touting around a spiral notebook for a few weeks; stuffing price lists and kitchen plans loosely inside as I dart from home improvement store to tile shop to home. But anytime I sit down to work, I become buried in piles of paper.
I was originally working at my desk, but it couldn’t even handle the mess! I relocated to the kitchen table only to find that I was soon overwhelmed there too.
I swear this pile feels more daunting than it looks in this picture (10 bonus points if you catch one of the hidden side effects of clutter). This is not the look I am going for, especially since the renovation is amping up. I’ll keep the cute kid and her drawings, but the rest has to go.
Organization grounds us. Knowing where your most important documents are at a moments notice, or having a routine you can count on is sure to offer calm and reassurance in the midst of chaos and change.
I know this, and yet still I’ve been avoiding finding a solution. It’s time to break out the trusty and true paper organizer from our school days, a binder! I’m going to create a home project binder.
Now I know this may not sound revolutionary but I know that sometimes it’s the simplest ideas that can make the most difference. And I must admit, at first I was a little hesitant to try a project binder.
I am a fan of a home management binder, but I’ve tried it before and it wasn’t a good fit for our family’s day to day operations. The binder was bulky and so I avoided carrying it around. The home management binder ended up taking up room on a shelf instead of being referred to daily. But I’m willing to give it a try again.
I found a small half inch binder in my stash of office supplies, and I knew right away it could help solve the problem I’d had before. The super thin binder is perfect for toting around from store to store, all while keeping my papers in check. Plus, I’d have an automatic home for papers to return to once I was finished referring to them at home.
I usually divide up one paper into 4 quadrants to be able to see everything on the same page while still having multiple lists going.
The first page features lists labeled as such:
- Talk with Dave (my hubby)
- Materials to Buy
The other pages following are more for long term task lists.
This future project page is where I jot down all the ideas we want to do sometime in the future, but won’t be touching during phase 1 of our renovations. These ideas come sporadically and there are lots of them, so I need one trusted place to record them all.
I’m usually a huge pinterest fan (and trust me, I have loads of home reno idea boards going); but I also need a less high tech idea catch all for when I’m not in front of the computer (I have an iPod but no smart phone for this gal).
Planning the Move
Since we will be moving in a few months, my mind often starts trying to plan out the logistics for our move at the most random times. I want to capture the moving ideas without spending a lot of time thinking about them.
I quickly add whatever random idea or worry might come up to my “moving list” page. I know these notes will be there to process and organize as we actually get closer to the move date.
I have been comparison shopping for quite a while now. Tile, carpet, sinks, faucets, windows…the list goes on and on for all the materials we’ll be buying. (Did I mention the house is a wreck?) It doesn’t take long for all the numbers to blend together.
There is a great app that I’ve used for grocery store comparisons on my iPod; but for me it is easier to have a list of prices for one store followed by another stores prices right below. Low to no tech is working for me in this case.
This is about when my fabulous Post-it tabs come into action. I love how quick it is to add, move, or remove a section with these re-stickable beauties.
As you can see in this pic, the regular lined paper does need to be kept in the front of the binder or the divider tabs would be covered by the wider sheet protectors.
The 2nd half of the binder is made up of plastic sheet protectors. I’m mainly using plastic sheet protectors because I have a ton of them at home (gotta love using what you already have on hand). They are also a good choice because I love the ease and speed of adding new pages to the binder without hauling around a 3-hole punch.
I use them much like a pocket to carry multiple papers together like all the pictures of the kitchen plan, or various receipts. When I get to this section of the binder, it’s a cinch to flip right past one big group of papers instead of thumbing through each page individually.
My sheet protector sections are:
- kitchen plans
- measurements/ layout
I used one project pocket I had on hand for inspirations and ideas. Project or slash pockets are a little heftier so it makes a great holding spot for these keepers until I decide how to incorporate everything. It is mostly magazine clippings from my sister. Thanks sis!
Towards the back of the binder I have the 2nd most well used page, after my to-do list, a sheet protector for receipts. For anyone who has ever done any type of home project, you know the home improvement store soon becomes your BFF.
I need a spot to keep track of all those miscellaneous expenses, especially if we need to make a return.
In front of the receipt pocket is a simple table to track miscellaneous spending. Nothing fancy here, just enough to get the job done.
One of the first things for me was to start a contact list of suppliers, contractors, and our new utility companies. I used a simple excel document in the beginning for the ease of addition and deletion as well as links to websites. Now that I am out and about I printed out a hard copy to have at the ready if I need to make a few calls.
The contact list and receipt pocket are purposely in the back of the binder for easy flip-to-ability.
So far the binder has been a fabulous addition to my many shopping trips and brainstorming sessions. Now it is funny for me to think about tromping around with just a flimsy spiral notebook. No wonder I couldn’t keep everything straight.
How about you? Do you swear by the organizing powers of the binder? Do you use other tools for keeping your major projects on track?