As much as I tend to store information digitally, slips of paper still manage to sweep into our home, such as gym schedules, school lunch menus, and event flyers. That is why I have set up a central home binder. It offers a safe haven for important papers, vital contacts for anyone to access, and a receptacle for health information.
I personally set up a very simple system for less than $15. Here is how to create one of your own:
First, decide what categories best reflect the kind of information you refer to often and that you want to store in your central home binder. Categorize by type of information or by family members’ names, or both. I keep my categories to five or less for simplicity — I don’t want the binder to be an overstuffed catch-all for everything.
The Categories (one per binder tab):
- Health & Fitness
- Simple Binder
- Plastic Pockets for In Between Tabs
Select a binder size to match the number of categories and size you think you’ll need. Unless you have many people sharing the binder, a 1 to 1.5-inch binder should do. I use a simple, 1-inch binder with a plastic cover that’s sturdy yet malleable. It’s easy to squeeze it in between cookbooks in a cabinet beneath the kitchen counter.
Use the number of tabs to match your categories. I purchased a package of five by Avery with large, easy-to-read tabs and printer-friendly labels.
Plastic Pockets for In Between Tabs
Some sheets that come into our home will simply be 3-hole punched and placed in the binder, such as a sports schedule. But others, like smaller pieces of paper, can be stored in clear pockets.
Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts here. Phone trees, especially for your child’s classmates, are great since entering everyone into your address book would be unnecessary. Permission slips can go in the front pocket, too.
Food: Insert standard shopping lists and meal planning worksheets in this section.
Health and Fitness: A blank sheet of paper to record prescriptions fits nicely under this tab. Note which prescriptions need to be renewed and when. Jot down free medication sample names so that you know who and what they’re for in case you need a full prescription. Use pockets to insert doctors’ notes. Store exercise programs and fitness class schedules here also.
House: The section pocket is a great place to temporarily store recent house maintenance receipts for things like plumbing bills. That way, you have quick-access to the information in the event of a repeating issue. Also include cleaning checklists in this section.
Travel: If you employ a babysitter, this is a good section to include maps to locations your children may have to travel while you’re not at home. Google maps directions to music lessons and sports practices are appreciated by the people who aren’t a regular part of your routine. If you have frequent house guests, store a city map in this section to easily have on hand.
What systems have you used for your home-central information? Let us know in the comments, we are curious to know what has worked best for you.