October 09, 2010

"My Brain" (Dayplanner... Planner... Control Journal...)

I've had a lot of questions lately about my planning binder. A long time ago I talked about setting up a planning binder for school, but over the years it has changed quite a bit. Some of those earlier binder posts are linked down at the bottom so you can compare if you are a detailed, list-making, analytical sort... but I figured I'd just tell you what I use TODAY. Since those early days I have simplified a lot. I tried keeping everything but the kitchen sink in my binder - and that broke my back. I tried having a separate school binder and personal binder, but that never seemed to work. Too many things to carry and I always had the wrong binder open when I needed to add information. Worst of all, I was using two different calendars - which was WAY too confusing... and balls got dropped.

SO, this post is about the 'evolved' version of my homemaking, scheduling, blogging, business and school planner. It's everything in one spot - which is why the kids nicknamed it "Mama's Brain". Fancy that - my brain looks like a 3-Ring Binder... and is lime green, too!

The first thing you'll notice about my binder is that it has tabs (see close up of them in the top photo). I use colored tabs with pockets on both sides - plastic ones that are harder to rip. Inside some of these main tabs are smaller, flat, non-pocket tabs for further dividing.

Here below is my 'Brain' tab structure:

- Prayer List
- Resolutions
- Prayer Journal Ideas
- Back pocket full of notes/scripture cards/Parent's Prayer

- Front Pocket full of notes/learning style quiz/tips
- To Do List
- School To Do List
- Reading List
- Dailies/Weeklies/Monthlies
- Back Pocket empty

School Organization
- Rules
- Punishments/Rewards
- Routines for Kids
- Educational Objectives (school year overview)
- Chores
- School Supplies List
- Articles
- TAB: Attendance
- TAB: Schedule
- Yearly Overview Schedule
- Weekly Subject Schedule/Workboxes
- History Overview
- Science Overview
- Teacher Notes
- TAB: Assignments
- Blank forms
- Science Curriculum copies hole punched
- Rubrics

- Front pocket with week's coupons/product request forms for Grocery Store
- Sheet protector with week's menu
- Pantry inventory
- Back pocket with meal ideas/grocery list forms/recipes for week

Calendar (see calendar open on desk in photo above)
- Monthly blank calendars (www.calendarlabs.com)
- hole punched items scattered throughout in front of their month (brochures/event clippings/invitations/fliers)

- Book lists for library (has a list of books we want to read and the italic ones are available at the library)
- Reference charts for history timeline and artists
- Notes for book recommendations
- Back pocket with bookmarks

- Blog calendar (blank with my notes) for Homeschool Post
- Blog calendar for Sprittibee
- Author list for the Post
- Homeschool Blog Awards notes and info
- To-Do list and post idea notes
- Back pocket with sticky notes, recipes to post on my recipe site, etc

- Front Pocket with blank sticky notes
- blank notebook paper
- Back pocket with stickers, postcards, stamps

- Photography pricing sheet
- Photography expenses sheet
- spreadsheet for 4 paydays worth of upcoming projected bills

There you have it... my 'Brain' exposed. I'm sure there are things I need to add and probably some things I should remove that I don't use any more.

1. Homeschool Tracker keeps track of my homeschool attendance, so I don't use that tab at all.
2. It used to contain a business card section that was really handy for local businesses and I kept an extra library card in there, too. I took it out because I had too many business cards and didn't refer to it that often. I miss having it to refer to, though - especially lately since we've been having so many doctor appointments.
3. I have so many notes about the Relevant conference floating around that it would be handy to put this in my Blogging section under a new tab - maps, brochures, budget, phone numbers and addresses, schedules and agendas, etc.

This is the nitty-gritty current state of my organizational 'Magnum Opus' (masterpiece). This binder is ever-evolving in to something more simple that fits my needs at the moment. How about you? How to you keep on top of the paper trails, things to do and places to be?

Quick Links:
Order of Operations: How I Stay On Top of it All
Homeschool Tracker Software (my record keeping program)
Last year's review of TOS' School Planner
Konos Planning for Dummies
Homeschool Planner Setup

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Cheryl said...

Heather-WOW-Seriously, you're brilliant! I've been wanting to make my own brain for a while but didn't have any idea where to start. I love this and I'm going to use it as a template to make one.

Brittanie said...

I wouldn't get nearly as much done without my Home Managment Binder! We don't homeschool, so we don't have that section. My sections are all in pocket folders with some things in page protectors, and I use dry erase markers on them. My sections are. To Do page, then a cleaning section ( which I use the most), then financial, where I keep everything we would need for pretty much any financial dealing. Then a folder for each kidlling. And a grocery folder, with coupons, recipe's, meal planning. I also have a random folder, right now it has birthday party ideas for the older kids party, A list of Christmas gifts we already have ready, ideas for Christmas gifts, and also a list like yours of books for each of us.

Hodgepodgemom said...

I like all your subcategories within the main categories.

Samantha said...

I feel like going into an OCD attack just looking at it! I want to do that, I have a pre-made hs all in one I use now, and a separate mom binder, but I am having similar issues. Next year we will have too many kids for that system, as it is only set up for 4 children. I may have to try your system. Or I may just self-destruct!

amoebamike said...

As a type B person, this blows my mind! I'm glad it works for you and I'm not knocking it... it really does just blow my mind.

Sprittibee said...

Cheryl - I'm sure that others have thought of this type of thing before me. :) I wouldn't call it brilliant - I'd just call in necessary for me to function. I'm pretty ADD, so I like to have my 'Brain' handy in case I flake out and wonder "What's next?"

Brittanie - I've seen so many different variations of a management binder and it is so cool that it is fully customizable. I like doing it in a binder because you aren't tethered to someone else's boxed ideas - you can take out and add sections, folders, dividers and such - at will. I usually have my Christmas list in mine, too - close to the to-do lists during the holiday.

Hodgepodgemom - The subcategories are the ones with the 'TAB' written beside them. The rest are actual things inside the section itself.

Samantha - OCD is the name of the game, baby. ;) Self destruct is likely. Story of my life.

Amoebamike - So what do you do to keep track of everything? Are you the bill payer? Cook? Homeschool teacher? Field trip chauffeur? Etc?

Michelle said...

Mine is also lime green! :) I started it several months ago and it is SO helpful!!

Hannah Braboy said...

Oh my lands! That makes my list-making heart go pitter pat.

Skip'sMKGirl said...

that is exactly what I want to be when I grow up <3 Seriously, I've played with several calendars, notebooks, ideas like this over the last few years. My biggest concern is that if anything would happen to me, my husband and family would have no clue where to start! What a great idea you have shared that I can customize for our life, THANKS!!

Hanna said...

Hi there! I am your newest follower. I found you from the blog hop. I think it was an old linky so I'm extremely late but here none the less. I love finding new blogs and your is lovely:) You can find me at www.bouffeebambini.blogspot.com

Summer said...

What a fantastic idea. I have all my stuff spread out right now. I really like the idea of having it all in the same place! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

revisedexpectations said...

Awww...burst of nostalgia, here! When I first began gearing up for homeschool, yours was one of the first homeschool blogs I "discovered". I spent *hours* reading through your site and bouncing around the internet to various links you provided. I recognize that page you have with the full year of small monthly calendars with lines for notes alongside! Anyway, I had forgotten just how many things I took from your site when I first started, including an organizational binder. :)(Mine has never, ever been as thorough as that--whew!)

Great post.


Kimberly said...

Wow, I aspire to such organization! Beautiful glimpse into your well organized brain!

Shannon said...

Thank you for sharing, Heather! I am getting the supplies ready to make my own version of your organizational binder. This is just such a neat thing you have created!!!

K3 Visa said...

wow...! You are brilliant. I want my brain like your brain. You are great.



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