Photo by Vero & Vincent
I don’t collect much, but if there was one thing I have a weakness for, it’s journals. For some reason, I’m attracted to them like a moth to a flame. Don’t know if it’s my passion for writing and their blank pages just beg me to scribble, but whenever I see a well-crafted one for sale, I have to at least stop and admire.
This should tell you that yes, I am a paper gal. In a world of more digital, online resources than we could possibly explore, a major part of me relies on the tried-and-true method of pen and paper.
Digital tools have their place in my home management process – but so does paper. Here’s how I use it to maximize my efforts at home, while still aiming for a clutter-free home.
My Home Management Notebook
I already wrote a series about how to create a Home Management Notebook, so there’s no need for me to rewrite the beauties of having all your necessary paperwork in one spot. Mine serves mostly as a point of reference and a base for paper storage.
I use basic clear sleeves to house my papers inside, and I divide them with adhesive divider tabs. My sections right now are Daily Dockets, Weekly Checklist, Grocery List, Monthly Budget, Baby Steps, Cleaning, Ideas for Kids, and Emergencies. These change as our family’s needs and agendas change.
• I print about a week’s worth of Daily Dockets at a time, using both sides of the page. I store them in a clear sleeve, and keep that day’s Docket in the front inside pocket of my notebook, for easy scribbling.
• My Weekly Checklist and Grocery List are master copies that I keep in their sleeves. When I need to mark something, I use a dry erase marker – and then wipe it clean at the start of a new week.
• Because I maintain our budget and accounts on Pear Budget, I print a master monthly budget and keep it in the notebook, just for quick reference. Our budget evolves regularly, so about halfway through the month, after I’ve entered receipts and updated our records, I print another copy to keep me relatively up to speed. I also have a zippered pouch where I keep already entered receipts – if I don’t need them (and I usually don’t), I toss them at the end of the month.
• I doodle out our plan for the Baby Steps and keep it in the notebook, mostly for motivation and encouragement. When I feel like it will be forever to save up at least 20 percent for a down payment, I look at these numbers (and the ongoing sketches of our house plan ideas), and I get a boost of encouragement to keep on “living like no one else.”
• I house my room cleaning checklists and recipes for homemade cleaners (the ones in my ebook), so when I need them, I’ve already got them there.
• The internet is chock full of craft and activity ideas for kids. I store most of them in my Delicious account, but when I want to plan a week’s worth of stuff to do with my preschooler, or when the craft involves printables, I keep them here.
• Finally, I keep a master list of contact numbers for emergencies and basic info about my kids, in case another adult needs them for reference.
I use my Google Calendar for meal planning, blog planning, keeping track of family events (so that I’ll automatically get reminder emails), and for hashing out my basic daily routine. But I need a regular break from the computer screen – and it’s simply not practical to get on the laptop every time I need to check something. So I keep a paper master calendar for the family.
MomAgenda sent me their “desktop” calendar to test drive and review. My initial reaction was – why must a simple calendar be so pricey? But after using it for almost a month, I have to say, I think it’s worth the money. I’m a cheapskate at heart, so even I’m surprised at my reaction here.
The main reason is because it’s more than a “simple calendar.” Yes, it has a traditional monthly calendar for the 2008-2009 school year (and I love that it starts in August, instead of the traditional January), but it also has weekly calendars that are just made for moms.
There are four different rows for different family member’s agendas, each day of the week. This is easily customizable – for example, since I only have a 3-year-old and a baby (let’s face it, they don’t have a jam-packed schedule), my four sections are labeled “family,” “house,” “work,” and “blog.” I use these blocks to map out my week’s agenda in advance. If you want to see the basic layout of a weekly calendar, you can download a PDF sample.
I do wish there was a little more room for customization, but for now, I use the blank pages in the back for that. They make a variety of calendars, so perhaps a different type would more fully meet my needs. Heck, I’d love one with my Daily Dockets pre-printed inside, but I guess an additional 365 pages would make for a pretty hefty book. It kinda reminds me of a Moleskine – it’s a joy to write in a well-made notebook. Overall, I’m impressed with the desktop calendar.
momAgenda also told me they wanted to extend a coupon code for Simple Mom readers – so if you do choose to go with one of their calendars, enter in “SIMPLEMOM” for 15 percent off $75 or more.
My To-Do List
At the bottom of my Daily Dockets, I jot down my day’s to-do list. Lately I’ve been using the Todoodlist method of writing my to-do list, and it has been a lot of fun. It helps me focus on one thing at a time, even when one task involves several steps.
Overall, I find a good happy medium between the digital world and classic paper work best for me. It’s easy to get sucked in to the beauty of technology and the myriad of ingenious resources online, but for me, I go brain dead when I spend too much time online. I need a break from the computer – and paper works beautifully when you’re on the go.
Yes, I store my recipes online in Delicious, and yes, I plan our weekly and monthly menus online. But when it comes to actually being in the kitchen and cooking, I rely on paper. I keep my online recipes printed full-size on plain paper and in clear sleeves (easy clean up from splatters), all in a master cookbook. I have traditional cookbooks, of course, but when it comes to my recipes found on the internet, I’d rather print them on paper than lug the laptop in the kitchen. I still store them online so I can find them again easily, just in case, and so I can refer to them for menu planning. And fyi, I think Recipezaar‘s recipes print out beautifully – well laid out and easy to read.
Are you like most people, and thoroughly enjoy manually crossing something off a to-do list? What’s your preference, digital or analog? And how do you handle keeping paper to a minimum, so that you’re not adding clutter to your home or wasting natural resources? Please share in the comments!