Have you ever noticed how many sayings we have about our homes?
Home is where the heart is. There’s no place like home. One’s home is one’s castle.
Our homes are very special to us. At the same time, does it feel like those sayings are missing something a lot of people feel in their homes?
A bit of chaos, maybe?
Home is where the heart is. In addition to your heart, you’re gonna find stacks of papers that need filing, a note-to-self that you’re low on dog food, and a bunch of dust bunnies behind the laundry machine.
Our homes are the centers of our lives—which can make them feel overwhelming. In this article, we’re going to talk about your new secret weapon for keeping your home running smoothly.
That secret weapon? The home management binder.
What is a Home Management Binder?
If you’ve never heard of a home management binder before, you’re not alone. What exactly is this organizational tool?
Simply put, a home management binder is a collection of information, reminders, and planning tools that help you stay on top of running your home smoothly. Its major components include:
If you have a plumbing emergency, who do you call? When are all your in-laws’ birthdays? What’s the phone number for your child’s pediatrician?
These are all important pieces of information, and in many homes they’re scattered around lots of different locations. That makes it difficult to retrieve them quickly. A home management binder collects all those important names and contact cards together in one place.
You probably already have a planner that helps you focus on personal and work issues. Because running a home can be so complex, trying to cram all your home tasks into your personal planner can feel overwhelming. If you’re overwhelmed by your planner, you won’t use it at all—and that leaves you even more overwhelmed!
One way to think of your home management binder is a second, home-focused planner.
Planners tend to do a lot of important things. They help us achieve big, meaningful goals by letting us break those goals down into day-by-day, doable steps. They help us keep up with the everyday “maintenance” tasks, like clearing out our inboxes or running the dishwasher, which helps us feel calm and in control. They help us remember important dates and tasks coming up.
Your home management binder can do all of that for running your home. You can break down a big goal—like decluttering the basement—into manageable tasks. You can keep track of both daily tasks like wiping down the counters and semi-annual tasks like changing smoke detector batteries.
Running Lists and To-Dos
Quick: what kind of canned beans are in the pantry? Who are you sending holiday cards to this year?
We tend to keep these lists on scratchpads and post-it notes around our house, or even just try to keep them in our heads with no paper involved. But that means an accurate, complete set of information is rarely available right when we want it. Maybe you can’t find the right list, or maybe you just can’t remember everything on it.
Home management tends to involve a lot of lists, and a home management binder is a perfect place to keep them.
Why Use a Home Management Binder?
Putting together a home management binder can seem like a lot of work (though we promise it’s not actually that much!). If you need a little extra convincing, let’s look at some of the home management binder’s big benefits:
All of that information and paperwork we listed above tends to live in a lot of different places. You may wind up keeping a bulky piece of paperwork—like a handyman’s brochure—in a pile on your desk when all you actually need to keep is a business name and phone number.
A home management binder lets you compile all of those important papers and mental lists into one location. That means no more stockpiling random pieces of paper or keeping running mental lists.
Whether your home management binder reduces your physical clutter or your mental clutter (for most people it reduces both), a cleaner and more organized space is going to make day-to-day life feel calmer.
Information Accessible For Everyone
There are lots of reasons you may be away from your home. Everyone needs to be prepared for emergencies, and someone else may have to look after things for a bit.
There are lots of not-so-alarming reasons to prepare for a brief absence too. Maybe you do most of the cooking in the house, but you’re going away for a weekend and your partner needs to step in. Maybe you want your babysitter to have the important contact numbers during your date night out.
A home management binder helps those responsibility hand-offs go smoothly. Whether it’s cat-sitting instructions during your vacation or help looking after your home during something more serious, the binder’s contents can lower your going-away prep workload and provide ease of mind.
A Sense of Accomplishment and Calm
Why do we want our home lives to feel uncluttered and organized? While there are lots of practical reasons, for a lot of people it comes down to mental health.
Studies show that visual evidence of clutter actually diminishes the cognitive resources we have available for other important tasks. Without those resources, we have a harder time focusing and become more vulnerable to anxiety.
A home management binder helps reduce that stressful clutter. It also helps us streamline tasks, leaving more time for meaningful, rewarding activities like family time.
Neuroscience also confirms what a lot of to-do list users already know: checking off boxes feels good. Most people can feel overwhelmed by big home tasks. You may feel “stuck,” like you’re barely keeping up instead of making meaningful progress.
A home management binder helps you break big tasks into small ones with checkboxes next to them. Checking those boxes can provide a little mental boost. It’s a small daily reminder: you’re making progress on big goals and staying on top of routine ones.
Supplies For Your Home Management Binder
Are you sold on creating a home management binder? If so, your next step is getting supplies.
Your binder can be as complex or as simple as you want. That means your supply list can be as long or as short as you want. Here are the basics:
One (or More) Binders
Most people prefer to use binders for their home management files. A binder lets you add, subtract, and rearrange pages as you want while still keeping everything compiled and compact. Some people prefer to keep everything in one binder, while others prefer to split things up.
There might wind up being many, many pages in your binder. Dividers are crucial for creating ordered sections. Tabbed dividers let you locate and quickly flip to any section you need.
Plastic Page Protectors
These have a lot of home management binder uses. They can protect pages you reference frequently, like phone number lists. They let you store documents you don’t want to punch holes in.
You can store many pages in one protector (like back-up printables), as well as smaller items like receipts and business cards.
A Hole Punch
Any binder system needs a good hole punch tool to quickly add new content. While three-ring binders and punches are more common, some people swear by the durability of four-ring binders, which require different hole punches.
Pens and Pencils
You can get as creative as you want here. Some people do best with a simple erasable pencil.
Others prefer a multi-color pen system. You could assign a pen color to each task category or to each household member.
Labels and Stickers
Labels and stickers are optional, but many people find them helpful for creating a cleaner, more polished look. If a nicer-looking binder will help you use it more, or if you just like pretty planners, go ahead with whatever labels and decorative elements you like.
How to Make a Binder
How do you make a home management binder? Because everyone’s home management needs vary, the perfect binder creation process will vary as well. Here are the basics for getting started:
Make a List of Sections
Sections are key to making your home management binder navigable and usable. To come up with a section list, think of the information you find yourself referencing, looking for, or writing down frequently while running your house.
Gather Important Information
Part of your binder will just be information you already have, like your eye doctor’s phone number. Hunt all that information down and start transcribing it into the appropriate section.
While this part can feel like a lot of work, it can also create a big sense of accomplishment. Whenever you record an important piece of information, you can toss out the old paper holding it.
Print Planning Sheets
There will probably be many different kinds of planning sheets in your binder, from daily chore check-offs to seasonal house maintenance task lists. Each category of tasks may need a different kind of planner.
Luckily, there are lots of printable planning sheets and planner ideas out there on the web. You may draw inspiration from the planning styles that have worked best for you in your work and professional life. Remember, you can take pages in and out, so you can also switch planning sheets if one isn’t working out.
Divide Up Your To-Do Lists and Goals
Stressing out about Christmas shopping probably isn’t going to help you clean the bathroom better. To reflect that reality, divide your goals into different categories. When you break your goals down into manageable steps, those steps will also be in different categories.
Experiment and Adapt
The first home management binder layout you try may not be the best one for you. The great thing about this system is its adaptability. If anything—whether it’s just a one-page layout or an entire section—isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to rework it until it does.
What Should Be in a Home Management Binder?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Your home binders content’s should reflect whatever is most crucial to keeping your household running smoothly.
Just to start with, those contents could include:
- Emergency contact information
- Daily chore lists
- Seasonal chore lists
- Financial Account Information
- Important bills and due dates
- Holiday plans
- Monthly and weekly budgets
- Shopping lists
- Meal plans
- Children’s school and activities schedules
- Trusted babysitters and tradespeople
- Coupons and important receipts
- Important house information (room measurements, inspection dates, etc.)
- Preferred cleaning products and procedures
- Favorite recipes
The list is truly endless. It’s important to remember, however, that your home management binder should only contain information you’ll need at least semi-regularly. Don’t overwhelm yourself with paper that’s better off in a filing cabinet.
What Order Should Everything Be In?
This is another question without a one-size-fits-all answer. Some people prefer to keep important reference lists at the front. Others prefer to keep pages they update frequently, such as chore check-offs, in the front.
Always remember: don’t be afraid to rearrange if you realize a different order would suit you better.
Home Management: Getting Started Today
Interested in learning more about home management? Read up on our home management ideas in this blog post.
Maybe after reading all this, you’re not ready to dive into a home management binder system. Maybe you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options, or you just prefer something more digital.
I’ve put together a home management system on Trello, an online planning app that helps you organize and streamline complex goals. You can access it right now to get started. A perk of using a digital platform is that you can access it from your smartphone anywhere!