Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Managing My Home :: Homemade Organizer {Tutorial & Free Printables}

I recently noticed that there are two different words often used to describe a Mama's role in her home...'Homemaker' and 'Home Manager.'  I never thought much of it until recently, when I had something of an aha moment.  Each word has a slightly different meaning, and both are very necessary to my role in my home.  'Homemaker' seems to best describe the aspect of my work that cleans, decorates, nests, and makes our home feel, well, homey....and 'home manager' best describes the aspect that keeps my family's schedules rolling along, plans life and doesn't forget that there's a homeschool group meeting in two weeks for which I'll need to bake some cookies, and bring a list of other things!

I love homemaking...nesting, decorating, crafting, nurturing my family.  Those are all things that I love to think about and do.  But home managing is a bit of a different story...I definitely need to work harder at this aspect of my work!  It doesn't come naturally to me, and therefore it's an area I'm always searching out ways of improving and learning how to do it better.

Which brings me to my story about organizers.  Many years ago as an overwhelmed, newer Mama, I checked out a book from the library about home management.  To my surprise, it ended up being mostly about how to manage your time using a daily planner.  I wish I could remember the title or author, because it was so inspiring - and for me, life changing!  I immediately ran out to the office supply store to buy one.....and was disappointed to see how expensive they were, and also that most of them were designed with working ladies in mind.  Even the few planners geared for Mamas were meant for school-bound families (not homeschoolers) and just didn't have provision for the things I needed to plan.

SO, I began to experiment with making my own planners, soon discovering it was much more fun to use something homemade!  Something tailored to all my little quirks, as well as the rhythms of my family.  I've been making my own planners for several years now, and they've worked out so well for me that thought I'd share it all with you.  Of course, your quirks and family rhythms are probably going to be different than mine.  But if you've never used a planner before (or found one that worked for you!), then perhaps this will be enough to get you started on your way to creating your own unique system.

Please keep in mind that when I say "homemade".... I really do mean homemade.  The printables that I'm sharing here are definitely not intended to look professional!  But as I said, my intention is to encourage and bless, so if these might be of help to you, then "may God receive the greater glory."  :)

.:: Here's what you will need ::.

one 3-ring binder (5x8)

set of tabbed page dividers
~ OR~
thick scrapbooking paper/decorative cardstock for making your own tabbed dividers (pictured)

printer paper
pack of 8x5 notebook pages

three-hole punch

optional :: plastic zip-pouch for keeping pens, sticky notes, etc.

Step 1 ~ Set up your Binder :: This is the easy step (and the most fun, I think!).  My favorite binders are the plain white variety with clear plastic pockets on the covers.  This way I can customize it with my favorite colors and designs using decorative papers.  Most of the time, I use a sheets of scrabooking paper that I buy when it goes on sale....but other things that could work (and would be truly unique) are wrapping paper, pretty gift bags if they aren't too thick (cut them to fit the binder), or make a collage out of miscellaneous things like postcards, birthday cards, lace, ribbon, etc. (it just can't be too thick).

Step 2 ~ Set up your Tabs ::  Pretty self-explanatory if you are using a store-bought set.  I made my own using stiff (cardstock weight) paper by tracing an old set of tabs and cutting them out.  If you don't have tabs to trace, I am working on a printable patttern for these. Hopefully they'll be ready for posting in the next week or so.

Step 3 ~ Label your Tabs :: This will depend on the things you need to plan for your family.  My labels (currently) are Calendar, Weekly Pages, Master Schedules, Monthly To-Do List, Projects, Meal Plans and Blog.  To determine what labels I really needed to include in my binder, I tried to think of what things are written on all of the miscellaneous papers I had been leaving all over the house!  These are the things I spend my time planning, and those papers need a home.  I decided not to include homeschooling in this binder (I keep a separate notebook for those plans!), but that might certainly be another label to consider.

Step 4 ~  Set up your Calendars ::

 Here is the printable for my calendar pages.

I like to print out a year's worth of calendars & fill in the months and dates all at once, because then everything is ready for me at-a-glance right when I need it.  Another option would be just to print out a few at a time, to save space in your binder.  I place all of these under my Calendar tab with the current month on top.

You might notice that each calendar's week begins with Monday....that, there, is one of my little quirks.  I really just like to look at my weeks in that order.  Sundays are non-essential to me in terms of planning my daily work, because I try not to do any work on them!  So I placed them last as a little reminder to myself of keeping them clear (except for fun things...).  BUT, I am working on another printable with the traditional week set-up placing Sundays first, so if you prefer that...stay tuned.  (**note: I posted the traditional calendar here.)

 Step 5 ~ Set up your Weekly Pages ::

Here is the printable for Monday through Thursday.

And the printable for Friday through Sunday.

I like to print out six weeks of these to keep in the binder at one time, along with the following pages that I use to write all of my weekly lists.  So each week has eight pages altogether: Monday/Tuesday, Wednesday/Thursday, Friday/Saturday, Sunday, To-Do This Week, Errands, Library, and Grocery.  I put a line down the middle of each page to make them easy to cut out (I always end up cutting things crooked otherwise!).  I keep these filed under Weekly Pages, with the current week on top.

Just a little note for you....  If your week's lists are different than mine, it would be very easy to make your own.  You could use Word to type up your own list titles...or maybe just use some lined notebook paper with handwritten headings in the top margin (what I used to do).

Printable is here...

 Printable is here.

And now you are ready to get started organizing your plans!  Check back again soon, as I will be posting the printables mentioned above over the next few weeks or so....along with more thoughts and ideas about how I am making the different areas of this system to work for me, plus a peek inside each of my tabs.

Have a Blessed Wednesday!

Linking up:

Growing Home


  1. This is lovely, thank you for sharing. We seem to have a lot in common so I am going to stop by when I have more time and do some printing! I have wanted to make one of these for myself but time has not been on my side lately. Thanks for your hard work in advance! ~ JES, who also has a love of antique roses, homeschooling, homebirths, homemaking and Charlotte Mason Style of education with Jane Austen in between!

  2. I LOVE your organizer! I just discovered your blog through the WLW link-up and it's such a pleasure to meet another homemaker/home manager. I too find it much easier to pretty up my house over managing it well.

    I do believe I'll be using your printouts! Thank you for making them available for free!

  3. I love posts like this one!!!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share, as it TAKES TIME to explain and post things like this.

    and for sharing your free printables.

    I like the idea of tracing thick card stock and creating your own tabs!!

    Would you believe I still just grab a piece of scrap paper when I have a grocery list to right???? Not anymore!! ;-)

    Love Carissa


  4. I like your organizer! I've been using one (off & on) for a couple years and would be lost without it. You've now inspired me to give it a bit of an update! Thanks! :)


  5. I meant "write"... Must be the sickness! ;-)

  6. JES and Jacinda - Thanks for stopping by! I'm looking forward to getting to know you ladies :)

    Jacinda, I was actually just visiting your blog when you left your comment here, lol!

  7. Carissa, LOL! - I do the same thing with grocery lists on scrap papers when I'm not keeping up w/the planner! And school plans...and to-do lists...

    Papers. Everywhere! And then I can never find the one that I need, lol.

  8. Thank you, Jessica! I'd have a hard time getting by w/o a planner, too - especially through the Holiday season, lol! Glad you were encouraged! :)

  9. Using beautiful organizers just makes doing the task more pleasant! These are so pretty. As for me, I'm still down in my basement cleaning it out. sigh.

  10. Love me some home management binders! Yours turned out beautifully!

  11. I meant to comment on this post when I first saw it but someone interrupted me! Your binder is *beautiful*!! I love it. Mine is just a plain old black "leather" organizer. I'm looking forward to updating it next month. Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. I am so printing these out. Love it! Thanks for providing them for us!

  13. Hi Colette, I love your printable and want to thank you for sharing. Have a great day. God bless you my dear. Hugs

  14. Hi Colette, I love your printable and want to thank you for sharing. Have a great day. God bless you my dear. Hugs

  15. Hi Colette, I love your printable I want to thank you for sharing. God bless you my dear. Hugs


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Things are pretty busy around our house, so I can't always leave as many replies as I would like to. But please know that I look forward to reading every note you send my way - they brighten my day! Blessings,Collette

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