The Workhorse of the Binder: Your Daily Docket

I feel I should explain, that while I am very excited to share this series with you and do feel bad for leaving you hanging so long between posts, my post last week was very convicting to ME, resulting in some re-shifting of my time. Fact is, a few things come before blogging in my life, and finally, this week, I started to live like that was true. Yeah, it hurts to limit my computer time. To lay aside certain pleasures or lesser goals to take a shot at my highest priorities, but I gotta tell you - it’s totally worth it.

I’ve read books this week – to my kids,  and to myself. I’ve sorted my closet. I’ve spent time with my man. It’s been good.

But don’t worry – you ARE on the list. Right there, on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, when I’ve decided to ‘Work On Content For the Blog’. Whatever I get written on those two days will be scheduled and posted in the coming week or month. Just for you. ‘Cause I love ya’ll. And I want to share what the Lord has been so gracious to give to me that has brought rest and fulfillment to my days.

My Daily Docket in action

Today I want to introduce you to the wonderful, the fabulous, the amazing, the inspiring – the workhorse of your home management binder -  the Daily Docket! This is your daily ‘to-do list’. Just that day’s goals, sifted and carefully chosen from the broader vision that is the rest of your binder.

The Impetus
I created mine when I realized that I was writing the same type of lists every day on the white-board in my kitchen. A list of stuff to cook…A list of friends to call or email or otherwise connect with…A list of the housework that needed doing that day…A list of what to do on the computer…it was the same categories every day.

Once I saw the pattern, I made a page in my binder for these daily lists. And it’s become the most used, most helpful part of the book. The majority of my binder is for occasional reference, but my Daily Docket is my constant companion.  It’s here that I jot down what I have to do today to reach my weekly, monthly, and long-range goals. A daily docket is where you turn your goals into reality. (tweet this quote!)

How it works…
I printed two week’s worth of daily dockets and slid them into page protectors at the very beginning of my binder. Now all the ‘plan ahead’ thoughts I have can be jotted down on the correct day. Like “company’s coming Thursday – I better vacuum Wednesday”, or “Pot roast will work good on Sunday – gotta thaw the meat Saturday”. In the past when I had these great, think-ahead thoughts, I had no where to jot them. Now everything has a place.

At least a week’s worth of daily dockets is especially nice when leading up to a significant outing or event, like a ski trip or holiday. I had just started using my daily docket in November and it allowed me to plan out all the food prep for two family get-togethers so that it didn’t overwhelm me AND I avoided last-minute runs to the store during that crazy shopping week. Score!!!

I use a wet erase marker to jot stuff down – such a quick, smooth tool. At the end of two weeks I sit down (like I did this morning in the few minutes I had before the kids woke up) and wipe down all the pages with a damp, microfiber cleaning cloth. I usually fill in each day either the night before or by breakfast the day of, and I jot down anything else that comes to me throughout the day.

My Guiding Light
My binder lives on my kitchen peninsula between the diningroom and kitchen where I walk by it 40-50 times a day. Even when this surface is piled high with clutter (its frequent state of late) I keep dragging the binder to the top, because it’s what gets me through the day.

I’m lazy, people. And easily distracted. Given a chance, I’ll waltz right out of a filthy kitchen after fixing a meal and slump down on the couch with the laptop to browse pinterest. Without the guiding light of my daily docket which is based solidly on the foundation of priorities listed in the rest of the binder, I’d never make any progress in life. Sure, I’d eventually get the dishes done. But rise above the mundane? Learn to love managing my home ’cause I’ve found a system that works? Ever have time to pursue greater passions than empty laundry hampers? I think not. Not without my guiding light.

Not only does my Daily Docket help me get my work done, it also helps me schedule rest. If I can see that housework will get done between 9 and 10 and 3 and 4 today, then I’m going to actually sit down and read a book while the kids are resting between 1 and 2. So I write down “read” in that slot, and you know what? Often, just by the power of choosing in advance, it happens. Sometimes not, but often enough that I’d encourage you to try it.

Now It’s Your Turn…
If you’re aware of your daily rhythm you can create your own fill-in-the-blank daily docket with a ruler and pen (like I did) or with the computer (like I, a non-geek, could not!). Or you can download any of these great dockets and try them on for size:

If you’ve built a binder in the past, but never felt it actually did anything but take up space on the bookshelf, it may be you were missing this most essential element. If you hate making lists or planning ahead, you may actually enjoy the inspiring spaces of a daily docket that invites you to merely fill in the blanks. If you’re overwhelmed by all you want to do, and don’t see it all fitting in a day, use your daily docket to map it out, face reality, and sift priorities until you have a realistic plan for your day. Then you may be as addicted to yours as I am to mine!

Do you have a daily docket? A favorite source for great printables? I’ll be waxing poetic on my love of printables in an upcoming post and would love for you to share ones you love in the comments. Thanks!

“Me First!” and Other Secrets to a Well Ordered Binder

When setting up my home management binder, I started with defining and prioritizing my roles. These eventually became the titles of each section in my binder. A binder that’s organize by roles doubles as a constant reminder of our priorities.

What are your roles?
Your roles are what is required of you as an individual – what nobody can or should do for you. They may include…

  • Who you are at home – Mother, Homemaker, Daughter
  • The title of any job you work at – Teacher, Massage Therapist, Entrepreneur
  • What you like to be in your spare time – Writer, Seamstress, Volunteer
    After writing down all your roles, you may realize (as I did!) that you have way too many roles! Relax. Only your key roles need go in your binder. (We’ll talk about what to do with all those extra passions and commitments in another post) To find out which are your key roles, you’re gonna have to prioritize. This is actually a pretty easy step – painful, ’cause you’ll have to face reality – but simple. Like lining up things in size order. Start with the most important one, and work your way down the list.

    Me First!
    I took a hint from Amy Lynn Andrew’s book, Tell Your Time, and made myself my first priority. Sound selfish? Let me explain: I’m a mom, a wife, a homemaker, a writer – these are things I’m passionate about. It takes energy and fuel to live out one’s passions. If I’m not fueling up, I’m gonna have trouble reaching any of my goals. If I take care of myself first, everyone (including me!) is blessed. 

    Now, I’m not talking about pedicures and nights out, gals. I’m talking about my soul, the deeper person, who I am when I’m alone. My toes don’t matter then. I make myself a priority when I:

    • take time for washing my mind with scripture (even just a teensy bit on the busy days!),
    • make sleep a priority over clean dishes, 
    • allow myself to take the time to organize my day so I can enjoy being a sane member of society.
    So, me first – in a rather unselfish way, because the things I do for myself are actually for the benefit of those around me. I include my role as wife in the ‘Me’ tab, because we’re supposed to be one, right? Then comes my role as mother. THEN comes food prep, household chores, blogging, relationships outside the home, business ventures, etc. 

    A Daily Reminder
    I have to confess, this is convicting even as I write it, because I’ve been letting some stuff get out of balance. So, lest you think I’m perfect, let me tell you that my binder is a reminder of my goals, NOT a showcase of reality around here every day. There are definitely days I let email come before kids, and house cleaning before time with my husband, but I’m working on it. Everytime I open my binder, I’m reminded of my key roles…
    1. Trina/Wife - includes personal goals, book list, notes from stuff I’m studying
    2. Mother – where I focus on my relationship with each of my children
    3. Homemaker – menu ideas, freezer list, organizing goals, etc.
    4. Writer – book list, post drafts, blogging schedule
    5. Friend – where I jot down questions, ideas, or stuff to share with friends
    6. Entrepreneur – notes from conference calls, goals for business and personal growth
    7. Shopper – gift ideas, shopping lists, master grocery list, cash account, etc.
    8. Artist – where I keep ideas for when I have time in the studio
    Simply mapping out my priorities as defined by my key roles last fall was enough to create a major shift in how I spent my time. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much fun. I just want to testify – focusing more fully on what I was created to do and be in this season has led to three of the most fulfilling and joy-filled months of my motherhood! 

    There’s just one more ingredient to a super binder that can bring peace and order to your days – it’s the most used and helpful part of mine! I’ll clue you into that next time… (sorry, but I just love cliff hangers…)

    Meanwhile, do you have a binder yet? What do you have or plan to include in yours? What do you see as your key roles? In writing them down, did you make any discoveries?

    My New Best Friend {A Home Management Binder}

    From my latest posts you may have figured out that a home management binder is my new best friend. Today I’m gonna walk you through building your own.

    photo source

     I know what you’re saying. I said the same things when I first heard about home management notebooks.

    “I have to build something? I don’t have time to build something!”
    “I’m already a list maker, and I’m pretty organized”
    That’s for gals who can’t keep their head on straight.”

    Then I became one of those gals.
    By the third kid, I was beginning to unravel.  Although it looked like I had it all together — house was tidy, laundry got done (usually), I cooked all our meals from scratch — the truth was, my brain was wearied and confused trying to keep on top of everything. Even though I wrote copious lists and constantly worked on organization,  I was drained by the constant need to prioritize and by the fact that I felt I could never let my mind rest, for fear something would leak out.
    Enter the Home Management Notebook. When I finally buckled down and put one together, I realized how stupid I’d been to put it off. It really wasn’t that hard, and it has made all the difference!

    • All my lists are in one place. No more searching for that scrap of paper.
    •  I have my priorities always before me, reducing the mental strain of constantly weighing options for my time.
    •  I am more organized than ever, which is finally allowing me to relax and trust that IF I have forgotten something, it is small enough that I don’t need to worry about it.
    • I feel like I have space to breathe – almost as if I DID have Cinderella visit occasionally!

    So, now I have you drooling over your own Home Management Notebook, but you’re also staring at the hurdle of Building Your Own.

    It’s really not that hard – Let me talk you through it.

    First we shall collect our materials. I’m going to give you two options. If you’re desperate to start one and don’t have time to run to Walmart first, here’s the bare bones necessities you’ll need that you probably already have around the house…

    • Binder (1 1/2 -2 inch spine)
    • Lined paper with holes OR any paper and a 3-hole punch (I got mine at the thrift store!)
    • Old file folders for dividers. 

    There’s going to be sections in your book, and I’ve found old file folders, cut up the spine and hole punched, work good for dividers. The above is enough to get you started. – you can upgrade to a pretty binder or dividers with pockets later.

    This is your shopping list if you wanna get a little fancy…

    • Binder (Target has some Gorgeous ones!)
    • Lined paper with re-inforced holes
    • Avery Tab Dividers with Pockets
    • Plastic sleeves – glossy finish
    • Wet Erase fine-tip markers

    That will make you a fancy-pants book, let me tell you!

    Next step is to decide how you wanna order you’re binder.I recommend you wander around a bit for inspiration. Everyone’s got their different ways of setting it up and all. The power of your binder comes from having it customized to your goals and routines. My set-up is kind of unique, inspired by my friend Gretchen’s binder. But there’s lots of great stuff out there - I’ve pinned some of my favorites on Pinterest to get you started. If you’re already feeling lost and don’t want to wander further into the unknown, don’t worry, I’ll be back shortly to talk you through how I set up mine, ok?

    {Many thanks to my friends Gretchen, Jessica, and Diane whose examples of pursuing organization finally prompted me to build my own binder. :)}

    Not sure if a home management binder is for you? I told you – neither did I. Until I tried it! I’ll never go back. What would ‘room to breathe’ feel like in your day?

    My Personal Cinderalla, Please!

    The year I had my third child was the year I began dreaming the same dream over and over:

    I wanted a hired hand. The children outnumbered the adults and the number of arms I had. The laundry was a living thing, threatening and growing. What to feed all these little animals was a constant question. And I had nearly lost the ability to engage in anything extra-curricular, like cleaning the shower or reading a book.

    I found myself almost daily fantasizing about hired help. We couldn’t afford it, but still, I’d imagine what life would be like if I had someone to help me with a deep cleaning project (there was one calling to me from every room), do a bit of ironing, or just hang out with my kids so I could get something done without an interruption every 30 seconds.

    This desire morphed into what I felt was a justifiable need while I was at Relevant. I met so many wonderful, type-A woman like myself who were doing it all – but freely admitted it was with help. Woman I respected like Crystal Paine and Angie Toplin said it was one of the best decisions they ever made. I headed home with the goal of figuring out a way to get my hands on my own personal Cinderella, feeling it was essential to my calling as a wife, mother, and blogger.

    I brainstormed with my roomie on the long drive home about how I could pull this off, but my quest took a turn when she asked one little question. She wasn’t critical, just curious –

    “Why?” Why did I feel I needed help?

    I quickly filled her in on all of the above – I couldn’t do everything I was called to do on my own, and all the most productive woman at the conference encouraged delegation and getting help. But as I spoke, I heard tones of justification. Suddenly I began to wonder if this really was a valid need, or a selfish desire I was justifying with all my lofty goals.

    It was the very next week that the Lord began revealing to me some pretty thick veins of pride running through my life - pride concerning my blogging goals, my household goals, my personal goals – pride was everywhere! And pride, get this, was at the root of my desire for a helping hand. “If I just had help, then I could do it all!” And doing it all was what my prideful heart wanted most. 

    That’s when I let go of my Cinderella Dream. That’s when I saw it for what it was – a selfish, prideful desire, and began to trust the Lord that He would show me the way through all my desires and goals and dreams, and give me the strength to accomplish what He has called me to.

    It’s been a journey, but I want to share with you what I have learned. About the Art of Sacrifice, The Beauty of Prioritizing, and, a Trick that’s actually made me feel as though I have gained an Extra Hand around the house (not to mention a large does of Peace of Mind). If you feel like you never will get it all done or make it through the challenging season you’re in, I want to encourage you. God will show you the way. And I’m gonna make room for you on the stepping stones I’ve found along the way…

    In Which We Confess Our Mess and Vow to Be Good

    Notes from things I forgot to say…the beauty of my home management notebook is that I now can actually see where I will have time to tackle this Mt. Everest of organizational challenges. My notebook has been the final tool that has helped me be productive AND find rest in my schedule! And for me, I find rest in creating. So, gotta get the studio clean. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn with you along the way…

    Please tell me I’m not alone (’cause, you know, miserly loves company?) Do you have a mess or organizational challenge you need to tackle in the new year? Are you wondering how to find the time or gumption? I believe we could do it together. That’s what friends are for, right?

    Spinning the Island Outside of Its Box

    Last week I turned my island around. You know the one in my kitchen, with the giant butcher block on top? It had been that way since it arrived in my kitchen – in fact, I’d decided how the island would stand ever before we bought the house. Moving it seemed like a weird idea…

    But I gave it a spin 90 degrees and viola! instantly improved the flow and appearance in my kitchen. It’s amazing! Unloading the dishwasher is no longer a crowded, awkward chore. Food prep seems just a little simpler, and my counter space is a full 13 inches closer to the fridge (which lives in the next room) and let me tell you, this saves steps. Granted, this does mean that the back, unfinished side of the cupboards face my door and give guests their first impression of my kitchen, but you know what? I’m ok with that.

    It had me thinking – where else could I think outside the box to improve my household? My schedule? My attitude?

    I’ve repeatedly taken little things like food prep and folding laundry and organizing to the Lord and He has often given me inspiration. It often involves breaking out of my comfort zone, putting a different spin on things, looking at a problem from someone else’s perspective. And it’s always been a blessing when I get a fresh new angle on a task or idea. Remember, He cares about what you carry.

    Got a problem? Organizational issue? Relationship conundrum? Take it to God. Ask a friend for their perspective. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Frankly, I’ve got a conundrum with putting the laundry away. I get it all clean and folded, but I procrastinate about putting the laundry away. Got any tips?