Home Management Notebook: Thinking Through Your Needs

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source: Nina Scaletti

source: Nina Scaletti

Typically kept in a 3-ring binder, a home management notebook holds everything you need to run your household in one convenient location.


The overarching purpose of a home management notebook or binder is to build a command central that holds all of the information anyone in the family needs regular access to; however, there are many different ways that individual families use their notebooks.

For instance, I take care of most of our “household management” tasks, including the finances, homeschooling, managing our contact lists and calendars, etc. As morbid as it sounds, I worry that if something were to happen to me, my husband would be left floundering to figure things out in the midst of his grief and while trying to take care of our girls. For me, having a home management notebook is a way to ensure that he has all of the information he needs at his fingertips.

For some people, a home management notebook becomes more of a “second brain” on a day-to-day basis. It houses their to-do lists, brainstorming and more. The benefit of using your notebook this way is that you keep everything you need in one place rather than having multiple systems. The downside is that a binder is much larger and less portable than a small notebook or day planner.

And still other people create yearly binders in place of a filing system so that the whole notebook can then be archived for recordkeeping purposes.

As with all organizing projects, the key is to have a clear vision for your notebook as you decide which information to include and which to keep separate.

Choosing Categories

The truth is that no two household management binders will look the same. There are several basic categories that most people will want to include, but the rest should reflect your own lifestyle and needs.

Before I list some common categories, I want to stress one important point. Please do not look at this list and allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the thought that you have to include every category. Some notebooks contain as few as five sections, while others may contain eight or more — or even span several separate notebooks.

If your vision for your notebook seems overwhelming to start, pick up a couple packs of tab dividers and then leave the tabs blank for now. Start with three basic tabs — for example: emergency information, contacts and calendars — and fill those sections without worrying about the rest. Once those are done, you can begin working on additional sections. Your notebook does not have to be completed in a single weekend, and you’ll find that it becomes a better resource if you think of it as a work in progress rather than a one-time project.

Choosing Categories

Use this list of example categories as a starting point for brainstorming about what you want to include in your binder:

:: Bible Study (lessons, notes, resources)

:: Calendars (your family calendar, sports schedules, school calendars)

:: Christmas Planning (gift lists, traditions, activities, recipes, to-do lists)

:: Chores (daily, weekly and monthly chores, chore charts for the kids)

:: Contacts/Phone Lists (your address book, team phone lists, church directories)

:: Daily To-Do List

:: Emergency Information (emergency contacts, basic medical information)

:: Family Goals & Mission Statement

:: Finances (budget, financial goals, account information, passwords)

:: Holiday/Seasonal (home decor inventory, project ideas)

:: Homeschool -or- School Records (records for each child, curriculum, upcoming events)

:: Ideas/Brainstorming (blank paper for jotting down ideas, page protectors for magazine articles)

:: Inspiration (inspirational quotes, articles, etc.)

:: Menu Planning (weekly or monthly menu plan, favorite recipes, recipes to try, pantry and freezer inventory)

:: Shopping (shopping lists for each store, list of coupons in your stash)

:: Schedule/Routines

If you work at home or run your own business, you might include those records as well. You also might have a section for your hobbies — gardening or quilting, for example — or for your volunteer activities or organizations you’re active in.

Getting Started

Today, start thinking about the information you want to include in your notebook. Gather any papers you have scattered throughout your home — for example, those in your kitchen junk drawer or across the top of your desk — and begin sorting them into categories to get an idea of the type of information you regularly refer to.

Think through your vision for your notebook. Is your goal to create a notebook to assist you in your day-to-day management of your home? Or is your focus on having a reference binder or yearly archive?

Also take some time to think about the supplies you want to use. Are you hoping to create a “pretty” system, like the Carolina Pad set I’m currently giving away, or is the function all that matters to you? How many tabs do you want to use? Will you be choosing a set number of categories or leaving blank tabs so that you can expand over time? Do you want to include a zippered pouch for pens, markers, highlighters, etc.?

Do you have a household management notebook already? If so, which section do you refer to most? If not, what’s holding you back?

About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5, 3.5, 2 and a new baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

12 Responses to “ Home Management Notebook: Thinking Through Your Needs ”

  1. I am a organizing junkie too! Once I have hit an area and have it all organized, I go and grab my supportive hubby, excitedly take him to the area and giddily show him my hard work. He is never quite as excited as me, lol!

    Anyway, I do have a household binder but it is not pretty enough for me and it certainly needs to be thicker as I have 2 school aged girls. So I am going to do a revamp very soon. I am going to add some sort of area for pens, stamps, a zippered pouch sounds perfect. I would also like to add an area for my brain dump so I don’t have lost thoughts or papers every where. My school info section is the most referred with a pocket for each girl.

    I am enjoying this series. It is giving me some ideas and getting my wheels turning! Thanks.


  2. That is a great idea with a binder. It definitely gives you a plan in place.
    Gourmet Candles´s last blog ..Fall Scented Jar Candles My ComLuv Profile


  3. I use my notebook daily, especially for school. I have a plastic, 3-hole punch expandable file folder that I got for $1 at Target. I keep what I need for our daily morning time at school in it, I love that it’s all in one place. I also have my calendar, though I am trying to switch to google calendar. Lesson plans, menus, shopping lists, cleaning schedules, and newsletters from different groups are all in it, too.
    Angela Mills´s last blog ..Too Many Books? Here’s One Solution! My ComLuv Profile


  4. I have been using the same home management notebook for years. I have been wanting it to ‘do more’ for all those years, also. It could be better, more expansive, and certainly more attractive!
    Please enter me to win!


  5. I am in the process of making my binder. I bought the binder about a month ago and have printed out some of the categories that I will be using. I don’t have many but it’s what works for our family. I am sure as my boys get older and life changes, my binder will change too! I am excited to add my MOPs things as a category!


  6. I LOVE my notebinder from Mead to hold my lists and planning pages. It is so portable and I can fold the front flap all the way around so that it lays flat on my lap to write.

    Of course, I use it to store all of my ListPlanIt pages in it :-) I put my calendars and To Do Lists in the front section, and use the other sections for managing my website and blogs.

    Jennifer Tankersley´s last blog ..list of time management techniques from our readers My ComLuv Profile


  7. Hello from “the other Mandi” … this is such a great article! It’s been on my TO DO List for a while now, so this is so helpful to get me started!! I’m headed over to your giveaway post now:)
    mandi @ it’s come to this´s last blog ..Top ten – the most mundane My ComLuv Profile


  8. Most of the time I feel like I can never get organized. I know each attempt helps me reach my goals.


  9. My family is all grown with children of their own, but I do have a suggestion for a category to add to your notebook: online memberships with urls, user names, and passwords.

    In this age of social media, blogging, and community Websites, it’s hard to keep track of everything. Even though you may have all this information stored on your computer, what happens if your hard drive fails or a virus requires you to purge all your files? Also, this is a good way to keep tabs on what your children are involved in online.
    Mihla´s last blog ..Is rudeness increasing in America? My ComLuv Profile


  10. I have created one, it’s not complete but a work in progress. In mine I have a yearly calendar and then a weekly list of things that I would like to get done for cleaning. I have a section for each child ( I have 2) it includes a school folder, sunday school, a folder for dance class for my dd and and afolder for scouts for each kid. I have a section for food, blank menus for me to fill in, and grocery lists for me to hang on the fridge each week for me to mark off what I need. I have important numbers list. I have a section with monthly tabs for keeping track of bdays and anniversaries. I keep my holiday stuff seperate in another binder.


  11. What fantastic products! These would certainly inspire one to be more organized. I’ve been working on a ‘home management’ notebook in excel, but think I’m ready to finally print things out and put in a notebook!


  12. I just browsed the store and think the “Eye Candy” collection is so cheerful!


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