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Getting (re)Organized: The Folders

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Confession time! I didn’t have a clue what I was doing keeping house or managing a household. We got by! We had fun!  But cleaning up, or finding something right-this-minute … um, no. Not so fun.

Then along came the internet, with Fly Lady and Messies Anonymous and Organized Home. (google those if you’re interested) I made a lot of changes, implemented a lot of tricks that worked — still work! — and learned how to sort, store, discard, manage my cleaning time, keep up, and all that. I’m not perfect — at times far less perfect than others — but now, at least I have a clue!

That brings us to today’s post! My version of “The Household Notebook,” a bit of household organization that every person in your house can make use of, and that can be customized to just what you need from it.

Mine is ready for its next evolution today. But I thought I’d show you what I started with — you see a good example of how I have, for decades, gotten creative in color, except this time it’s not relating to anything artsy/craftsy/foodsy/sew-y!

In my opinion, a household notebook should never be a (single) notebook! I can’t imagine that a 3″ or 4″ binder full of tabs and papers and pockets of stuff, holding both everyday reference plus the obscure stuff suggested, could EVER be convenient to use. Can you imagine flipping through all that bulk? So I created my version years ago…

It is the Household Notebook: Folder-Style.


It started with some colored folders like these (pockets front and back plus brads to hold sheet protectors in the middle,) a box of 3-hole punch sheet protectors, and some clear packing tape for reinforcing. We had 6 of them, and they were kept in a plastic magazine holder by the phone/desk. They went like this:

Yellow: the “Yellow Pages” for all rosters, phone lists, and a sheet for each person’s important phone numbers (I always knew where to find other parents’ phone numbers!) and other Important numbers, too. I actually used the free printables from the links. These particular pages didn’t go into sheet protectors because I wanted them to be easily added to.

Green: the “Green for Go” folder for all papers relating to places we had to go.  Flyers listing the band concert dates and times. Athletic practice schedules. The school year holidays calendar. Permanent maps to kids’ schools (and the vet.) Almost everything in this folder went into sheet protectors, but the pockets held things like party invitations, the directions to the upcoming weekend’s soccer game, the parent-teacher conference slips, etc — the one-time events. We used a wall calender, too, but this folder had all the details.

Turquoise: for “Food Planning.” This one never really got up and running. For a while it worked well as a place to put the recipe printouts I was going to use for the week. Ideally, it should have held menu plan ideas, clippings, and nutrition/cooking notes… but I ended up with a different system. My idea behind using blue for this one? It’s the color that’s supposed to keep you from eating too much LOL

True blue: “Chores and Household Routines” from when I was being really strict with myself about those routines, and when the kids had one 10-minute-or-less chore to do each schoolday (but more on the weekends!) We haven’t used this one in years, and I’m not re-creating it.

Purple: “Menus” for takeout, and restaurant coupons. You’ve seen this one already! The most used folder in my system ;)

Red: “Emergency!” This is the folder that goes into the ambulance or to the ER. (Thank heavens we’ve never had to use it that way!) I tried to keep it up to date with who was taking what medicines, recent health challenges, and any specialist’s names and phone numbers as well as the info for our health insurance and primary care docs.

So there you have it — hat’s what worked for us. Other categories of information that people suggest putting into a Household Notebook, we used files in a filing cabinet for.

This outgoing set of folders hasn’t been replaced in many years (some are actually older than others,) but they don’t get handled as much as they used to. Kids grow up; life calms down! That “Yellow Pages” folder has seen some pretty hard use, though!

I used to put clear packing tape in strategic areas so the paper folders lasted longer. But I’m done with THAT look!

Now I am wanting a … hmmm… more sophisticated look. I found these black vinyl folders at one of the major office supply stores. Black’s sophisticated, yes? I don’t do a lot of sophisticated LOL But I am glad to be done with the need for that tape.

I have color-coded the top of the spine, which is a little more subtle than full-on crayon colors. All I did was cut a piece of cardstock to a size that barely fits between two of the fasteners (height) and when the width is folded in half,  it fits right into the spine’s creases. With this super-snug fit, I didn’t use any adhesive. I actually can’t get them back out without destroying them!


The insides look pretty neat and tidy. I used a lot more inner sheet protectors, and stuffed less stuff into the pockets. That should work well enough these days.

I picked up these black chipboard magazine holders at Ikea to try. They’re less bulky than the basket and I love the way they look. If I turn them sideways, it also gives us more desk surface!

We don’t need as much info in these folders as we used to (the last kid will soon fly away from the nest) but my hubby and I are still trained to use the system and the color code, so we’ll stick with it for now.

We might even think of some new folders for our Household Notebook: Folder-Style system: orange might be good for Exotic Vacation Plans…


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