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Thread: Creating your own home manual
04-21-2006, 12:44 PM #1
Creating your own home manual
or Control Journal as flylady calls it. Flylady's site has good instructions if you want to follow her method, and so does Organized Home for a somewhat different model. Bonnie McCullough is where I first learnt to build my own manual.
Whatever you do, DON"T over organize. When you spend more time shuffling the paperwork of a system than you do actually using it to save time, it's NOT WORKING!
I found that out with a super duper home school manual system that I bought that had more ways to organize home info than I could hope to cope with, and keeping up to it was taking twice the time it supposedly saved.
So keep it simple. Here are some of my own ideas.
Get a zippered binder with carry handles. Nylon cloth covers and handles in a 3 ring binder type is sturdy, you can sponge it clean, and the handles won't rip off. Flylady sells one, but so do most office supply stores and back to school time you see TONS of them for very cheap at Walmart etc.
Mine happens to be a light leather binder with zipper and pop up handles that I recycled out of a cast off day planner system from my husbands work place. I used it for years as a homeschool planner (again, I did my own version after the fiasco above)
Put an A-Z set of dividers in there, and just pencil in businesses and peoples names and address, phone numbers and emails. Most of the time you won't have enough to need filler paper, but if you have extra M's for example slip one in. I find most of my stuff fits right on the divider itself so less paper to carry.
Less is more remember.
Why pencil? Pencil these in so you can erase and change as needed! Divider paper is sturdy.
Put a 12 month set of dividers in there. Pencil in BIRTHDAYS on each month and any monthly, seasonal or annual things you need to do to maintain house, landscape or car or appliances. Oil changes, furnace maintenance that kind of thing.
Draw a LINE THRU each divider, save the top half for birthdays, bottom for chores. You will check on these once a month, a week before the month turns over to give time to buy a card, or phone the furnace man or air conditioner man.
NOW for some regular dividers, with plain tabs. These are for several divisions mostly relating to routine things. I have a divider for the following:
Menus, master grocery lists, master pantry lists. May I suggest you have a master list of dinners you like to cook, listed by meat, and with the cookbook and page number to find them.
So when you have a super little crockpot stroganoff recipe as I now have, you remember that it came from Leanne Ely's Low Carb Menu Mailer (which it did) and that way you are set to use your best recipes, and any new ones that your family gave a 9/10 or 10/10 rating to (which they did)
It really makes menu planning MUCH easier. You have an overview of favourites to choose from.
Finances-- budget outline, goals, a list of upcoming expenses (this is where you should remind yourself you will need a new washer soon, or that the roof shingles are cupping and will need replacing soon) You aren't as likely to forget and blow that nice windfall on something stupid and soon forgotten. You spend it on the needed upcoming expenses as it should be.
This section also has a list of where our accounts are, insurance stuff etc, and photocopies of our wallet cards, and passport numbers.
Photo copy your wallet contents by putting the cards on the copy machine, copy, then turn them all over and copy again. KEEP SECURE this isn't info you want to fall into anyone elses hands! If one of us dies, the info in here will enable the other one, or our children to wind up our estates without a lot of searching and hassle. If a purse is stolen this has all the numbers ready to read off to the card companies.
Daily, weekly and monthly routines-- this has a page for each in the division. It is my master lists for these chores.
Home Improvements interior and exterior. I put my paint chip numbers here, the number of gallons it took to do the back bedroom, or the number of cubic feet of barkmulch I ordered and who from. This is for tracking the best businesses, which I list, for buying bark mulch or paint from, and what they charge. I put favourite phone numbers and businesses here for landscaping supply, or handymen etc as well as in my phone numbers.
I have a few pages of notes that I've scribbled about the overall plan I'm working towards so that I stay focused, and my decor reflects a thought out plan, not a mish mash. When you are on a budget and can't afford to re buy something it pays to keep the overall plan in mind. You can recognize your bargains when they come along.
Packing lists and Emergency Info. This is a list of what I need to pack for routine trips, but also a checklist in case of forest fire evacuation.
When our kids were little back in Prince George a nasty fire started in a nearby forest, and our neighborhood was on evac notice. We had friends who had to leave on a few minutes notice. They had a baby and forgot diapers and formula in the panic. I wasn't ready either then. Since then, I've had another time of potential evacuation alert and I refined the list.
Flylady is big on this and has a good checklist on her site. I recommend it, but I also recommend you personalize your own emergency bug out list.
Put it together in whatever way works for you.
Some people have wardrobe and gift idea dividers but I don't bother. Too much detail. I have a list of movies I want to rent on the back of the calendar on the wall, but that is another section that I prefer not to load myself down with.
Don't overload yourself.
04-21-2006, 12:50 PM #2
Flylady's version has a bill paying envelope in there, where you stuff bills to pay, then deal with them on the road. She keeps some office supplies too, stamps, envelopes etc.
I found having stamps in a pocket is useful, but the bills I keep at home in a drawer. Her method might work better if you spend a lot of time in the car though, because you can do a lot of paperwork while waiting in the car for someone.
04-21-2006, 12:53 PM #3
Depending on how secure your binder is, you may wish to keep that section with the wills, insurance and credit card and passport info in a separate central drawer at home.
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04-21-2006, 01:05 PM #4
me and my notebooks.... thanks for the info, i can update and rework my homekeeping notebook with this!
04-21-2006, 01:30 PM #5
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Thanks for the info!
04-21-2006, 01:55 PM #6
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Great info, thanks!
04-21-2006, 05:31 PM #7
here is a great custom list for menu and grocery list
print off a few and then go to
and click on the links for a quick tutorial on menu planning. this is pretty much my system. Here are the steps in a nutshell.
Pick 5 meals per week (I do 2 at once so 10)
Write out everything you need to make those 5 on that custom list.
It becomes your master list and you copy it, don't mess it up. NOW IT SITS IN YOUR BINDER FOREVER because you can recycle this set of meals, and it fits YOUR family with YOUR recipes.
Copy it exactly-- use a copy shop at 5 cents a copy or whatever is cheap or re write by hand.
Next cross off everything you have in the house, that you don't need to buy on that copy leaving what you need to get.
And finally add in everything else that you have on your running grocery list on the fridge or wherever you jot down stuff you need to buy next payday.
You now have a complete menu, customized grocery list that you can use forever whenever you want to recycle your very own menu and list.
What you need at the store will change, but because you didn't mess up your MASTER menu, it's ready to copy and use anytime you like.
Do a few more weeks like this and you can have a months worth of menus for YOUR real life family, and then repeat for the other 3 seasons.
KEEP THESE MASTERS in your binder. Copy as needed for no brainer cooking and shopping.
05-02-2006, 12:20 PM #8
some notes on simplifying the household chores, in the daily, weekly, monthly lists.
Put the month dividers in a section, and just in front, put 3 filler papers for daily, weekly and monthly checklists. This is where most days, you open your binder to, to see the shape and colour of today, what the basic bare minimum is to get done, before you can hike outside without fear that you will return exhausted and the mess will be having babies in the corners.
Daily is the page where you jot down the stuff you absolutely HAVE to get done either before or after work, or thru the day if you are a homebody.
Weekly is for the bare minimum project du jour. Things like changing the sheets, or shopping for food. Again it's the absolute have to's.
Monthly is the bare minimum chores for the month, without which the house stops running or you get asthma. (this is my reminder for washing the mattress pads and pillow covers, and vacuuming the mattress and flipping it or rotating it and spraying with Febreeze allergen reducer and washing the furnace filter).
NONE of these pages need to be junked up with stuff you can reasonably push off till tomorrow.
This is the stuff that if you are in hospital and dh needs to know what to do, you can hand him off the lists, and he can keep up a reasonably healthy sane household. If you are ill at home, these are the things you usually struggle to get done. It is a MINIMUM.
(you can do extra chores later if you wish and have the time and energy, but as Peg Bracken comments on her housekeeping backwards list, when the chips are down, and the fun is elsewhere you want to boogy thru the house and get out where the living people are and grab you a slice of life too!-- or words to that effect!)
05-02-2006, 12:55 PM #9
The BARE MINIMUM concept again:
One of the biggest obstacles I routinely stumbled over was self created. In all the years I"ve been doing household chore to do lists, ever since Pam and Peggy's card file days back over 20 years ago now
I've noticed the strongest tendency is to try to list everything that I THINK should be done. I see it in others too.
NOT what actually gets done, or the bare minimum that actually needs doing to keep people fed, clean and safe and the bills paid on time.
FIND your OWN bare minimum and see HOW LITTLE you can get by on. THAT is your list.
(you can create a second list, an "if I have time" list to look it, and IF YOU HAVE TIME look in and pick. That is the job jar principle)
You can even have a 5 minute list of tasks to do while waiting for a kettle to boil, someone to call you right back, or while you are on a cordless phone call and have a hand free. That is a useful thing to post somewhere, and pick one and do it.
But these are NOT MINIMUM MAINTENANCE.
Minimum levels are NOT A COMPETITION either with your mother, sister or best freind or the others here on the village. LOL you KNOW what I mean!
I have asthma, and my minimum is different. It's different for everyone.
I wash laundry in hot, being a bit more prone to infection than my friends. Others wash in cold and survive fine.
Most people without asthma won't need to go flipping mattresses, washing furnace filters, and dusting so often or feel the need to spray with allergen reducer febreeze. I find if I don't, I'm couphing and my chest feels tight or worse yet I get right into an asthma cycle when outside pollens and dust levels rise (which I can't control).
Finding YOUR minimum level for things like:
garbage removal (dejunking too)
and basic cleaning
is more about figuring out the LEAST you need to do to keep it all together.
It's not about what SHOULD be done, more just what YOU need. Really need. When you don't do it, things start falling apart, or the kids get asthma, or you find yourself doing a lot of take out meals.
Last edited by canadian gardener; 05-02-2006 at 12:58 PM.
05-02-2006, 01:04 PM #10
remember that over organizing, trying to add on too much, fill every last second of the day
kills more good attempts at a system than anything else.
That comes from guilt I suspect, guilt over not being busy, guilt about resting, guilt about feeling lazy when we find a minimum and use it and free up LOADS of spare time.
05-03-2006, 06:47 AM #11
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Wow, you've produced an excellent tutorial here! This is great!
05-03-2006, 11:32 AM #12
thanks. Strawberry could tell you my reaction to that overloaded over organized home school planner system. It was when I first realized that fatal tendency of nearly everyone beginning to organize themselves to over do.
I've written a lot about the bare minimum in other threads, but it goes double where a planner is concerned. If it gets too big, it's hard to use. If you try to track everything, rather than what you use M-F then it is harder to use.
Putting the organizer on a diet:
It was an epiphany of sorts when I realized I could desecrate the dividers, by writing ON them, and skipping the filler paper in the A-Z and Jan-Dec dividers. No filler paper needed often, reducing weight and shuffle time to find the info.
Another planner diet tip! You keep it home near the phone or some central place, but lugging it on shopping trips????? give me a break!
When I realized that for me, tracking sizes of people and rooms etc in the household planner wasn't a great way to do it --
INSTEAD --it does help to have a little 3x5 index card in the purse with dh's shirt size, pant size etc and jot a list of gifts to look for thru the year for family--
since a 3x5 card in the purse is there when you need it. You CAN'T carry the household organizer book so easily when shopping.
Have another card for measurements of windows, duvet measurements (fabric sales) or room sizes (paint sales) with lamp heights etc. Paint chips can go in there, fabric samples too, if you put it in a standard sandwich zip lock.
Putting a card for books you want to read or movies to see, means that it's in the purse when you are at the library, second hand bookstore or DVD rental.
Keeping it simple. Don't track what you don't need to.
05-03-2006, 12:11 PM #13
And in the menu section, make a pay day cycle menu that is CHEAP and EASY that will get you thru a tight payday! The set of dinners you know you can make, using a lot of what you have on hand, or can get cheaply. It needs to be easy because if you are sick or under stress you don't need added effort.
This is an ace in the hole, a port in the storm. I still have several of these that I've created over the years, that work for me, don't cost a lot and I can fall back on in tough times.
05-18-2006, 06:56 PM #14
Man, this sounds way to complicated for me - I would spend more time organizing than actually working. I have I think it is called birthdayalarm.com and it reminds me of all the important dates, get three notices starting I think two weeks in advance. I let Flylady keep track of all the jobs I should be doing and sometimes follow it very ardently and sometimes slack off but she does keep my house in good order. I keep a very well stocked pantry and freezer and usually only buy to replace what we have used and I can open the door and tell at a glance how many tomato soup I need cause it is a loss leader this week. Shop about 95% from loss leaders. The only list I might have is a note on the end of the cupboard of something very basic I have run out of and the first person going by the store picks it up. Bills are all paid at the bank in person by my husband or myself the first day of every month and I do have a ledger to keep track of deposits and bills paid. My husband is very good about looking after the truck and car and they get fully serviced twice a year, once in the Spring and once before winter - I never even have to think about this. I have a vast collection of recipes but never make any menus up in advance - that is too organized for me. I do a lot of cooking in advance like making four meatloaves at a time or cooking three or four roasts or a whole crockpot full of porkchops so meals are pretty easy. Just different strokes for different folks I guess.
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