Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Life Management Notebook

Note: If you haven't read the post I wrote about being inspired to do this, you should start with this post.

This week I spent about a day making what I have termed my "Life Management Notebook." I saw that many of these binders are known as home management binders-- but mine went beyond that because I wanted it to encompass all my writing, ministry and other parts of my life than just the running of my home. So, I took some photos just to provide you with a visual:

This is the cover-- I covered up my phone number, but it's on there. One of the things that resonated with me when I was doing all my research of other similar binders that are out there on the internet was Elizabeth Foss' post about making her notebook visually appealing, so she would want to handle it. I had originally intended to use some pretty paper from Michael's-- but when I was unpacking a box and found an old Mary Engelbreit desk calendar, I had an idea. I could use her whimsical artwork and wonderful quotes to decorate my cover and make cover sheets for each section. Because the notebook I bought had clear dividers, I wanted to have something underneath as a cover sheet just to dress it up a bit. My cover says, "It's Good To Be Queen," "I'm In Charge Here," and "The Queen Has Spoken."

Here is the first section of the notebook--- entitled, "Things To Do." Behind this page is a set of copies of the "Personal Secretary" page from Heart of the Matter. I am looking forward to using these pages weekly.
Here is another section of my notebook, just to give you another visual. This section is titled 'Writing Stuff." In this section, I am keeping stuff my publisher has sent me, writer's guidelines, and anything else I might need for writing. All the quotes on this cover apply to the theme of pursuing your dreams, because writing is a dream of mine.

This is the last section of the book, and it is actually not a designated section but a page protector that I can slide recipes I clip and want to try into. I seem to clip stuff but never use it-- I think having these more accessible to go through when I am planning menus and making grocery lists will mean I am more likely to actually use them. Behind this page protector, I have a calorie counting guide, a list of fifty ways to make chicken that I wrote, some sample menus, and more page protectors for overflow recipes.

So, here's a "table of contents" of the sections of my notebook:
Things To Do: includes the "My Personal Secretary" pages
Prayer Journal: includes a page called "30 Good Names To Call Your God," a set of the "Prayer Journal" pages from Heart of the Matter, and a guide for praying for your children and your husband
Kids' Stuff: includes school forms, a schedule for the fine arts classes my younger two are taking, the info for a dance school I am considering for one of mine, the graduation requirements for my two high schoolers, etc. I eventually want to have a few typed sheets of info about each child-- weight, height, sizes, SS #, etc. (You know, the stuff you always need to have on hand when you are filling out forms!)
Homeschool: includes a typed sheet of our schedule, our course of study for this year, a list of read alouds, a list of books I would like my 3rd grader to read, a list of the lapbook themes by month that we are going to cover, a list of the classes and on what day the kids are going to be involved in, and a list of the people we are covering for our "biographies kids should know," with a beginning list of picture book biographies that our library carries for each person. After that, I have a set of these planning forms, which I will use to plan out each week. I also have a sheet of the phone numbers for the ladies at our church homeschool group, the attendance sheet our state requires, and a copy of the card our state issues to homeschoolers.
Family Celebrations: will include gift ideas, planning lists, party plans, menus, guest lists etc.-- anything to do with birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, fall, Easter, etc.
Personal Notes: includes notes from seminars, blank paper for future notes, and the essay called "If I Had My Life To Live Over" by the late, great Erma Bombeck
Life Skills And Home Training: includes copies of my friend Ginger Plowman's "Wise Words For Moms" which is a handy list of scripture and questions for when you are dealing with a child who has disbobeyed, a list of living skills and what ages they can (or should) be taught, and the "Operational Definitions of Character Qualities" handout I got at a parenting seminar years ago.
Home Keeping: includes a list of projects that we still need to do in the house, clipped decorating ideas, a routine/schedule for cleaning the house (still working on this), a list of services and service people we have used, with their phone numbers, and some ideas I printed off for making your own household cleaning projects
Writing Stuff: I already explained this one, above
Habits And Goals: Includes all the habits I want to implement, with a plan of action and also any goal setting I need to do, with a deadline, if need be. I have a chart of yearly goals I copied from Gayle Graham's book How To Homeschool: A Practical Approach years ago that I am going to begin using again. I used to fill out one of these every year. It would be easy enough to make your own. This one has personal goals in the area of "Relationship with God," "Husband/Wife Relationship," "Daily Living," and "Ministry/Service." Then below those is a space to set goals to work with your kids individually on in the areas of "Academic," "Spiritual," "Physical," and "Practical."
Finally, In the back of my notebook, I have masters for all my forms in a page protector and "The Gospel Alphabet" card I got from Operation Christmas Child years ago.
All in all, I am very happy with the way my Life Management Notebook has turned out. I think it will be a very useful tool and I am already feeling like my life is much more orderly and, well... manageable since I started using it!
Please let me know what you think, and if you start your own I would love to hear about it!
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Joni said...


Love this! I hadn't been keeping up with your blog because it's not registering new posts in my bloglines. But, I saw your CM Carnival posts (loved them also) and got caught up. Hope all is well with you!

Anonymous said...

oooooooo! marybeth, this is AWESOME. i love all the sections...i am dreaming of a day of solitude with a large cup of starbucks and my own old calendar clippings...and making my notebook! wonderful!


amada said...

This is SO great. You wouldn't have known it, but it's not just a great mind thing, I think we actually are somehow connected and you were reading my mind! This is the post I am actually working on right now (household notebook), it's in my drafts! hahahahahah! fun.

Thanks for coming by! I can tell that I'm gonna like you ;)

You are my very first commenter on my new blog, congratulations! :)

Trujillo, Peru

Anonymous said...

I received your Notgrass notebook yesterday-thank you again and again! It is just what we needed and cane at a time that the finances would not allow a new purchase. Blessings!
Jennifer in New Orleans

Anonymous said...

Wow Marybeth! What a wonderful idea! I don't know why I didn't think of this. It's exactly what I need to get my life organized...LOL! I plan to start on it right away. By the way, I truly enjoy reading your blog every day. It is so inspiring and creative. I just love it! Keep up the good work!


Christine said...

I am definitely a home management binder chick at heart, but I find I don't use all of the sections when I have them! I have a binder now and I'm using the homeschool section and not much else. :( I do use the google calendar which works really well for schedule. I love your idea of keeping your goals, writing, et.c in your notebook!

Bonita said...

Your notebook looks great! I had something similar for quite a while, but recently switched to having files in a drawer of my desk for each of the things that was in my notebook. For now, this system works better for me.

I do, however, plan to start something that I've seen around blogs. It's a homemaking journal which you do very much like a scrapbook, only mine will be more similar to your notebook. You write, put magazine pictures, etc... in a journal form that you can continually add to. It's not designed to organize your life, but rather to be something where you record your homemaking journey, can pass down to kids, and can look at on those days you need a little extra comfort.

Okay, girl, hand over the 50 ways to make chicken! Unfortunately, now that my son works at Chick-fil-A he is chickened out and will eat something else any time I make chicken. However, that won't stop me from making chicken because I love it so hand over the ideas!

Shanna said...

Okay...I want one!!! But, will you make it for me? Ha, ha :0).

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