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Vlog: My Very Simple Homemaking Binder

I was first introduced to the concept of a “Homemaking Binder” when I first started reading blogs almost seven years ago. I read about all these incredible and massively-detailed binders other women had put together and thought, this is it! This is going to solve my homemaking issues and help me have a beautifully organized home and life.

So I tried to make up an elaborate system but quickly discovered there was one major problem: The system wouldn’t work unless I worked the system! And because I had bitten off more than I could chew and was trying to make someone else’s system work for me, it left me more frustrated than ever. To be honest, I even felt like a failure when I just couldn’t make a Homemaking Binder work for me and it seemed it worked flawlessly for everyone else.

Over time, I’ve learned that it’s okay to do what works for me — even if it’s much different than what works for other people. So instead of trying to conform myself to another person’s system, I’ve set out to create my own.

This video tutorial walks you through what I’ve been using for the past four months. It’s working really well for us right now, though I can’t promise that it will be what I use for the rest of my life. I’m learning that tweaking and overhauling things as seasons and needs change is what works best.

But I share this in hopes it might inspire some of you. Please don’t copy mine — because it likely won’t work for you! — but I’m hopeful maybe those of you who are struggling with home management might be able to glean a few ideas from it.

By the way, all of the pages I use in my binder can be downloaded for free here. You can also read more details about our daily schedule here.

Do you use a homemaking binder or another system to keep your home and life in order? I’ve love to hear what works for you!

Next Monday, I’ll share the final installment of the Time Management series and then I’ll be posting at least 10 incredible guest posts on time management from readers here who are in different seasons and situations of life than me.

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81 Comments

  • Aimee says:

    I like your Daily Docket and how it is set up. I will use just this one page and put it in the clipboard each day…your routines are the same as mine with the exception of cleaning glass on the doors 😉

  • Dawn says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I have long been frustrated by my difficulty managing time and tasks and have tried to put together a binder system that will work. I tend to over-complicate everything that I try to implement to “simplify” my life, so as you can imagine, I don’t get anywhere doing that!

    You have inspired me to try again and I hope I can come up with my “own” thing and not copy yours, but as I read the post I couldn’t help thinking “wow, that sounds just like me!” so why wouldn’t her system work for me too?

    I have a very organized person trapped somewhere in the clutter within…I hope someday to liberate her! I CRAVE order yet for some reason simply can not overcome the chaos…it’s maddening…

    Love your blog! Thanks thanks thanks!!

    • Lauren W. says:

      @Dawn, I’ve never been able to put into words the walking contradiction that I feel like I am when it comes to organization. Thank you for your third paragraph. I am apparently not alone! 🙂
      Lauren

    • Heather says:

      @Dawn,

      I read this: “I have a very organized person trapped somewhere in the clutter within…I hope someday to liberate her! I CRAVE order yet for some reason simply can not overcome the chaos…it’s maddening…” and thought YES YES YES me too!!! You are not the only one!!

      My husband and I recently went through some of our “STUFF” and tried to get rid of it. I was ready to throw EVERYTHING away, but he didn’t have much of a childhood and is adamant about throwing away nothing from his youth since it’s all he has of it. I get it, but man it’s frustrating!

      • Dawn says:

        @Heather, Yay! Another one! My lonely, chaotic world seems much less lonely now! I have a hard time throwing out sentimental stuff, but then there’s other times I toss with wild abandon…and usually regret it later ):

    • Wendy says:

      @Dawn,
      “I have a very organized person trapped somewhere in the clutter within…I hope someday to liberate her! I CRAVE order yet for some reason simply can not overcome the chaos…it’s maddening…”

      Thanks so much for figuring out how to put into words what I feel!!

  • You are so cute! I love how simple your binder is. I am wondering if that was my mistake the first time I tried it myself? I tried to be too complex. I printed out EVERYTHING. It got so overwhelming. Maybe I need to try your more simple approach.

    Here’s a silly question though…where do you keep the binder? I am so an “out of sight out of mind” kind of person…

    • Laura says:

      I was wondering the same thing! We have an old CD/turntable/stereo cabinet in the dining room. I leave my binder on top because it fits perfectly, is accessible, yet not visible. It works like a lectern. We haven’t used the CD player or turntable in at least a decade, but I can’t get rid of my binder-holding cabinet!

  • LK says:

    Look how cute you are! I am really appreciating the personal vlogs and being able to put your face to all the posts, having been a loyal reader for a long time now!

    Thanks for all you do.

    LK

  • Yes I have a Homemaking Binder! I keep our monthly schedule in it, my cleaning lists, a blogging section, a section to write down gift ideas and things I want to include in my letters to my children. I also have a folder in it for important papers for my son’s school and one for Mom’s Day Out things! I like having everything in one place and if we have company come over, it’s very easy to pick up and put out of sight for a little while! I love the daily chart, I will be trying that out soon! Thanks for all you do!

  • Stephanie says:

    Crystal, This is great! I’ve never seen or heard of a homemaking binder – and wish I’d thought of one! I love how simple yours is and appreciate the forms you shared! This would be an easy way for me to accomplish some of those daily tasks that often get forgotten!

    Thanks for sharing!!

    Stephanie

  • rachel says:

    we have a massive dry-erase board on a wall in our home. I write to-do lists, things to remember, verses we’re memorizing, needs list and notes to each other on it. I love it~ it keeps this house a little more organized!

  • Oh! I’ll definitely be browsing through your pages 🙂

    My homekeeping binder is here: http://likeabubblingbrook.blogspot.com/2010/06/creating-homekeeping-binder-or.html

    I love it! Sometimes I stray from it, but I always come back to it.

    Jaime @ Like a Bubbling Brook

  • Linda says:

    Do you have a homeschooling binder? I tried making a homemaking binder with both housekeeping/homeschooling/and public school activities (older children go to school) and I got extremely overwhelmed. I am pregnant with number 7 and due any day and have just abandoned my homemaking binder.

  • stephanie says:

    LOVE IT! Thank you so much. I have been working on 1 for about 4 months now. I find that if I do a bit each day, its not so overwhelming & easier to keep up with it. I truly appreciate you putting together & sharing your own. This gives me ideas of what I need to add/change/ delete on mine. Thanks

  • Ann B says:

    I was looking for some input from some moms who’s schedules are inconsistant like mine. I work outside the home as a nurse prn and my schedule varies greatly. I would like to impliment a homemaker checklist/binder system, although a daily checklist won’t work for me. I’m starting out with a weekly and monthly list and we will see how it goes.

    • @Ann B, My schedule used to be a lot like yours, and it drove me crazy! What I finally started doing was writing out different schedules for different days. I had one morning routine that I did every day, no matter what. Then I had different routines that I did depending on what I was up to that day. Another thing, that I still do, is to write out a list of weekly chores and then on my planning day assign them to a specific day depending on my schedule. That way I can juggle my chores around work, etc.

  • Sarah says:

    Awesome! I have a binder that is slightly more elaborate. This is because I want to have ONE place where all the papers end up instead of having piles. I have a section for school stuff, so I always have those dates and info handy and they don’t get lost. I have a section with doctor phone numbers, and info I need to follow up on. I have a section with my husband’s work calendar so I can know which days he has lunch meetings (so I know not to make him a lunch those days). I keep bills in the front pocket. I have other things like family birthdays and gift lists in another section. It works for me to have lots of things in one binder, because then ALL my reference is in ONE spot. Most days I’m only using my daily/weekly pages, but it’s good to have the rest there so I can fill it all out 🙂 I use listplanit.com for my lists. Thanks for sharing yours!

  • Amanda says:

    Love it. My system is similar, but I need it spread out right in front of me, so I have an organizational wall. Big desktop calendar hanging on the wall w/ our commitments penciled in- each night I write my to-do list on a post-it (post-its kept in my nightstand) and each morning I put the post-it for that day on the big calendar. On the wall is also a message board and a magnet-board that displays my daily schedule (created using “Tell Your Time”) and a list of what my morning and afternoon routines entail. I have 2 open-faced binders handing on the wall, containing my zone cleaning list for that week (modified form Fly Lady) inside a page protector so that I can cross items off w/ an expo marker, and on the other binder hangs my 4-week dinner schedule, an idea from this post that has saved me from daily grocery trips (http://aprongirls.blogspot.com/2008/07/monthly-menu-planner.html). So, like I said, it’s basically an organizational binder, minus the binder. 🙂

  • Holly says:

    I think your binder is a fantastic idea…I am a stay at home mom of 3 (ages 3 months, 20 months and 5 years) and I just recently started doing your daily list to do during the day and it has really helped me stay on top of things in my household…before it was like the things that needed to get done never quite got done and now that I have a set schedule it really helps.

    P.S. It’s nice to finally put a face to all of your blogs I read everyday!

  • Jackie says:

    I love this idea! I wanted to personalize your daily docket to fit my needs, but it won’t let me make changes. Is there a way to do that? For example, I don’t blog, so I wanted to change that section to “Prayer For”.

  • Sylvia says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing this. I think it might just be the inspiration I need to get started on my own homemaking binder. I love how simple it is (I crave simplicity) and it seems like I could adapt it very easily to fit my life.

  • Sarah says:

    I like to make a small pocket planner. I use the one at pocketmod.com. I put the current week and the following week on there, grocery list, to-do list, and several lined sheets (sometimes a Sudoku- just in case). Right now, that works well since my kids are all little and my schedule is pretty open. I just like to have a place to put appointments, church nursery duty, etc. all in one place to keep on me, plus some space to make notes throughout the week.

  • Rhoda says:

    I have tried to use a binder several times, but found that it’s just another thing I have to open and/or keep track of throughout the day. My solution was to put my daily, weekly, monthly tasks on the refrigerator. I have to go to it for each meal and pass it when doing laundry or leaving the house. The list is a reminder to me to keep on task, and keeps me organized when I get “lost” in my day.

  • Rebecca says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! I’m going to check out your printables now!

  • How did you know that this was just what I needed?

    I’ve been working on my blog, and starting an online photography business. After being used to an office setting, I’m quickly finding that I need more structure to my day, and I want to be very intentional with my business plans as well.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the plans you can modify in January. Until then, thanks for sharing your system as it is! I really wanted to start a home/website-management binder, but didn’t want to start from scratch.

    Heading upstairs to print off pages now!

  • Cate says:

    Thank you so much for this vlog and all the templates! (I love that you included generic ones, realizing we won’t all have the same lists and goals!) Lately I’ve been struggling so much with getting myself on track…spending too much time on the computer, letting filth build up in my house, etc…and I think I’m going to run out this very afternoon for a binder. It’s about time I get myself organized.

  • Monica says:

    Are you walking around in my head today?! I’ve been trying to create my own for two days now! I am working in an Excel spreadsheet that I can use instead of the binder. I think I’m going to use yours in the meantime. I love spreadsheets, so when I get my meal planning spreadsheet completed, I’ll let you know.
    Thank you so much for posting it!

  • Kadee says:

    Oooh, I wish you would have posted this about a month ago! I bought a planner/calendar to get myself organized, but I think the binder would be easier – I could personalize it more. I printed out your generic weekly and monthly lists, and it was instrumental for me in organizing a cleaning schedule. I’m on week 3 of using it, and it is working so well. All those tasks that I did only when they got so disgusting that I told myself I should just do regularly are now planned out with a day and/or month. I’m not sure I like all the cleaning I’m doing now, but I’m sure liking the cleaner house, not feeling overwhelmed, and knowing I don’t have to do everything in one day. Thanks so much!!

  • Almut says:

    I love the ideas. I used the FlyLady’s online “control journal” tutorial to build my home-keeping binder and update the sections as needed. I created another binder as my office-on-the-go with all bill-pay info, pouches for collecting bills, receipts and stuff to file away at the end of the month. I keep a zippered pouch in the front with a calculator, pens, pencils and high lighters and another for stamps and envelopes, thank you note cards etc… If I’ve got some “waiting” to do, I can take care of my desk-time routine anywhere, even when the kids are at sports.

  • Jeanne says:

    I love this. I use google calendar a lot and I also use a Mom Agenda http://www.momAgenda.com It’s an excellent planner you can purchase that has a spot for your children.

  • Heather says:

    You totally need to market this. People will buy it! …people like me, for instance. 🙂

  • Chelsea says:

    God’s timing is impeccable. All day, I’ve been feeling like I’m falling short as a new mommy (I’m 6 months pregnant with my first) and a wife. But God has continued to try to show me that I’m not alone, and nobody has everything 100% put together, and your second paragraph really reconfirmed that for Me.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks for sharing. It gives me some inspiration for getting a binder together as well. I’ve tried many in the past but nothing has stuck so far. I like your advice on being flexible and learning what works for your own self and situation (which change over time!)

  • katie says:

    HI! i was wondering if you would be able to consider emailing me your daily forms/etc…in word format? i cant get pdf on my computer and i’d love to see how you organize! i have a few calanders/booklets going now and i’d like to see how i can “combine” into one binder or so….i know not every system is for everyone, but id really like to see how you do your thing…thanks! katie

  • Lee says:

    I got introduced to a journal when I did FlyLady before my second of 3 boys was born. I went back to a journal a few years later and used it until right after son #3 was born a few months ago. I found that having a new baby was to hard to stay on “schedule” with anything!

    I love that you have a monthly chore list, I may have to borrow that idea. I also like to keep a yearly calendar in mine so that when we go to the Dr. and we schedule appointments for months in advance I can write them in right away. it helps me look down the road and see what we have coming up. I also add important birthday’s to the calendar for reference.

    Thanks for sharing, I always like to see what other people do to gather ideas for my own organizational needs!

  • Shannon says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this Crystal! I’m just through my first trimester (with a toddler already) and got in a major rut with getting things done and now that I’m feeling well again, it’s as if I forgot how to organize my time! This is a great place for me to start! I can’t wait to make my binder!

  • Hollaina says:

    Wow, My Household Notebook is massive compared to yours. But, it is very organized, and it has been a lifesaver for me. I highly recommend them to everyone; Find a system that works for you, and go with it. 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    Thank you- I am going to print out your chore lists to put in. I find the older I get- and the more kids I have- the less my brain can remember everything!

  • Mommaof10 says:

    My Brain is in my Blackberry. I have my Memo Pad set to open with the touch of the side button on the phone. Then I have different Memo’s entitled, Today, Shopping, PRR Projects, Research, Info to Keep, Supplements, Memory Verses, Prayer Requests, Blood Glucose Readings, Computer, etc.

    All my notes except for banking go in my Blackberry Memo Pad. It is easy to add to and is with me wherever I go and it is easy to erase when no longer needed.

    We have a large family with 4 adult children living at home. In order to keep track of who is where and what jobs they’re working on for our family business, I use the Google GMail Calendar. I can color code for different people and kinds of calendar categories. This is our family’s journal of sorts and has saved my aging memory many times. It also allows anyone in our family to access it from any computer and see who is where and what is or has been on the schedule, including my husband…..if he would actually utilize this tool!

    • Crystal says:

      We love Google calendars — and there’s only my husband and my schedules/responsibilities to track. I think they’d be a lifesaver with more adults in one household!

  • Trina says:

    I love it! Thanks for sharing! As a new mom of three, I am feeling overwhelmed just trying to keep everyone fed, clean and well rested. Housework has definitely taken a backseat this last month. Having systems in place has always helped me and I think an all in one place binder will be just the thing to keep me on track…that and more than 2 hour chunks of sleep:)

  • Shauna says:

    Thank you for this post, this is not something I have ever thought of doing. When I was in college and working I would always map out my schedule and different goals I wanted to accomplish.
    I am excited to start doing this for my new stage of life ( stay at home mom of 3) and my mind has been working overtime thinking of how I can make it work for me.

  • Crystal says:

    I am totally going to do this! I currently just have a post-it on my wall calendar with the daily housework, but this is so much more and yet so simple! I think for the daily page (and actually all of them) I will keep them in page protectors, then use fine tip dry erase markers to make notations and check things off. That way I don’t have to use a new page everyday. Thanks for the great idea!

  • Danielle says:

    I have been both inspired and intimidated by this series, but I finally decided to give it a shot and come up with a daily schedule for myself and my kids. I was planning to put it off until I started homeschooling my oldest (now 3 1/2), but I realized that the 3 of them could all benefit from some more structure. The biggest thing it has done is help ME to stay on task with my cleaning chores, while keeping the older 2 kids involved in that process too. Being pregnant with #4, my house was starting to get very dirty due to lack of energy (organized, but dirty). Having a plan really helps! I’m much less stressed about preparing for company on the weekends because the house is pretty clean. I’m interested in trying this binder thing, but it’ll be interesting how well I can stick to it. Like Crystal said, the daily schedule is more of a guide/goal–I don’t think I’ve truly followed mine a day yet! My kids are very early risers (and very inconsistent ones when they’ve got colds), so it’s been hard to get off on the right foot most days. But I’m learning! I’m a work in progress…just like my schedule!

  • Quinn says:

    My homemaking binders are my lifeline- I find that if I’m struggling, I’ve been neglecting it. I’ve had them on my mind lately as I gear up to review the system and rework anything that isn’t working which I always do around the new year.

    I posted a series about it earlier this year:

    http://onjustacoupleacres.blogspot.com/2009/12/organization-for-new-year.html

  • RuthS says:

    My husband said, “Hey! Let me see what that woman you talk about all the time looks like.” LOL.

  • Abbie says:

    I have a binder similar to yours, except I have a page for each day. On the page I have the chores I want to do, and the people I want to pray for. I put the page in a protective cover and I use a dry erase marker to write down the meals for the day or any other activity. Then the marker wipes off for the next week. I basically have reusable pages. I also have a weekly, monthly, quarterly and twice a year cleaning list. It’s helpful, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Ginger says:

    I love your vlogs! After reading the post you did yesterday on this subject, which had a link to FishMama, I ended up downloading her fully customizable e-book. I love it! I stayed up too late last night just playing with it and making revisions. I highly recommend that e-book; well worth the money to me as it is over 100 pages of options, most of them fully customizable.

  • Jill says:

    I have a more elaborate binder. I have a section where I keep menu calendars (old ones and blank ones) I have a section for recipes I want to try and recipes that I have tried and want to make again. I also have a section for whats in my stockpile. That way when I am menu planning I can see whats in my stockpile and cross off after I use the item. I also have the binder with me when I make out my grocery list so I can see when I am low on something in my stockpile and add it to my list when I see it 0n sale. I also love to be organized but have a hard time staying organized. My goal for the new year is to have my house decluttered and to stay organized with the help of my binder.

  • QuatroMama says:

    Love this, Crystal! And it’s always great “seeing” you! Miss you!

  • Melinda says:

    I have been using your schedule for the last two weeks and it has helped tremendously! The first week was really rough, because my old method of cleaning was to clean whatever was the dirtiest, so it took me a really long time the first week. But the 2nd week was heaven, it hardly took anytime because everything had been done the week before.
    I am now trying to make sure I have a place for everything, because we have clutter everywhere. And I am trying to be more like McGuyver and instead of running out and buying stuff,I am trying to use what we already have in a clever ways!
    Thanks for all your tips!

  • Andrea says:

    I love your vlogs! One thing that might work for you since I see that your sheets are in page covers, is instead of printing new sheets for each day/week just use a fine point dry erase marker on the sheet protector. Then at the end of the day you can wipe it off and start over again without wasting paper.

  • Ashlee says:

    My problem with cleaning is how easily it snowballs and suddenly I’m overwhelmed and don’t even know where to start. I’m very new to schedules but am finding it is really helping. So far the entire downstairs is cleaned and is staying clean! The upstairs is still a work in progress, but progress nonetheless. I’m finding a loose schedule for the day and a slightly more strict schedule for the week is helping me. I’m still very new, so I’m still learning the right balance between too much on my plate and getting behind. Right now my schedules are being written on scraps of paper I find around the house. My goal is to start a binder after the New Year once the craziness of the holidays is over and I’ve had a little more time to test what works for me.
    I cannot say enough how much this series is helping me! Your specific binder won’t work for us, but seeing it has really inspired me to make a more concerted effort in finding what does work for us.

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve struggled with the same problem with a homemaking notebook that is just too complicated for me. I printed off your forms a couple of weeks ago and am tweaking them daily, but they are working better for me than anything else I’ve tried!

  • Heather D says:

    Huge fan of Flylady.net!! She now just teamed up with Cozi and will soon have her daily home projects streamed onto Cozi calendar. Then you can download it to your phone and have everything with you!

  • jaime says:

    I’ve struggled keeping up with a home management binder in the past too, but the simplicity of yours makes sense to me. I’ve just created my own daily docket with my personal daily chores. I used your idea of breaking them into before breakfast, after breakfast, etc and think that will help keep me on track! Thanks so much!!!!!

  • I love your vlogs! I used to have a homemaking binder, but I found it never got used. It was huge and overwhelming, and often got buried instead of looked at. So I came up with an alternative: I print out daily dockets and fill those out a week ahead, and keep them on a clipboard. They are easy to look at throughout the day. Then I have a personal size Filofax planner that I use as my “brain”. All my to do lists, calendars, info for the kids, financial info, etc is in there. It’s easy to take with me and the compact size means that I can’t put too much in there.

  • Emily says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I had started a notebook a while back, thanks to LifeasMom’s ebook, but kinda stalled… after reading your post I finally finished it! I got this really great zippered Mead 3-ring binder from Walmart, that has an accordion file and some zippered pockets- I love it! Now I have a place to file all those recipes I want to try, and all the coupons I printed but haven’t clipped, plus I have all my paperwork for schedules, meal planning, homeschooling, calendars/important dates, contacts, and other miscellaneous info- all organized in one place! 🙂

  • Erin says:

    I love the quote about being an organized person trapped in a messy person’s body. My husband and I have been married 3 years and are still trying to find our groove when it comes to cleaning the house. We both work so sitting down and committing to doing chores every day after work feels like torture. As I try to make up the weekly chore list I am already feeling like I will fail at cleaning the bathrooms on Tuesday nights or mopping on Thursdays. Almost all cleaning happens on the weekends right now. I would love to hear other perspectives from working women on how to get cleaning done when all you want to do after work is relax.

  • Tami Qualls says:

    You’re is so small, yet possibly do-able! I’ve made a few myself and ended up with a heavy binder that ended up on the shelf permanently.

    I love your forms!

  • You know what inspires me? How simple it is. You are very right about reading other blogs and the idea that your household notebook should be this monstrous book of productivity and organization. I currently use GraceWorks Beautiful Life Management Pages and mostly they work for me. {Though I think I need a seasonal/monthly list as well for cleaning}

    Anyway, I’ve been wondering if I’m missing out by not making a household notebook. This was encouraging..just do what works – for you!

  • Stephanie says:

    I have not been able to download copies of the forms that you provided online. Is there another way to access the forms?

    Thanks!

  • Prathee Chandar says:

    Is there a way to edit these forms according to my schedule? Please let me know. It would be greatly useful

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