Living Columns & Blogs

Household tip No. 1: A notebook

A reader suggested weekly household tips. Loved this idea. Truly I love it.

Then I got to thinking about it...

And realized that *I* am the one who needs tips. Lots of them. I like to think we have moved out of survival mode, but reality presents itself too often. Survival mode it is! So I do have a few tips and things I rely on, but what I really need is tips from the readers to make this work. Post them or e-mail them to me. Each week I will feature a new one. --------------

So in order to kick it off... here is one of my biggest contributors to keeping my household moving somewhat in the right direction... my notebook.

Since I use a computer for my "daytimer", I don't really have need for the redundancy of a day planner. About 90% of it would go unused. What I do need though is a single place to write everything down.

My solution is a 4"x 6" vinyl covered notebook split into four color coded sections that I picked up for under $2 at Target. I am on my second one and picked up a third the other day for when I run out of pages in this one.

I carry it in my purse and when at home I keep it out on the counter. At work, it sits on my desk in front of me. I can flip it open nearly anytime and jot whatever down.

In some attempt at organization I like the four sections for different things. The first section is my ongoing "To Do List". I just love crossing something off of there. And when the whole page is done I can rip it out, wad it up and throw it at one of my kids. No, I don't advocate throwing things at your kids, but this is a piece of paper and it is oh so funny when mommy throws something at them. Don't aim for their eyes. My daughter is the good one, daycare has taught her well and she picks it up and takes it to the trash. Thus starting a game of keep away between my son and I because once she gets the wad, into the trash it goes and the game is over.

Ok, so I digress. Ever find yourself sitting in a meeting when it dawns on you that you haven't had an oil change in like 6 months? That never happens to me. But if it did, I would pull my notebook out and scribble in there "GET OIL CHANGE!" as quickly as I could. Don't ask me how long this has been on my list though... not that I am admitting to having pulled out my notebook in a meeting or not getting a timely oil change.

The second section is food related. Anything food related. The first page I list every routine, blah work night meal option I can think of (goulash, baked potatoes, sloppy joes, etc.). This page stays there until it gets ratty and ugly. Then I rewrite it. This is for those days when my husband calls and asks if I have any ideas for dinner. I pull out my trusty notebook and start listing off options, avoiding the ones that I know we don't have the fixings for -- such as crab cakes… not sure why that is on my list as it isn’t an every night type of meal. The next page is my running list of new and interesting dinner ideas that I have seen online, in a newspaper or magazine along with a note as to where I saw it and the ingredients I need to buy in order to make it. This is for those nights when I need an escape from Blahs-ville and have the time to run by the grocery store to pick up obscure ingredients. It doesn't happen often, though that Gorgonzola Chicken Breasts note I have on there right now looks tempting...

Return to reality. The remainder of pages in this section is devoted to grocery lists and Costco lists. Just in case you are ever in a meeting and all of a sudden remember that you need dark chocolate, you can pull it out and write it down. Not that that ever happens to me, you know.

Section three. This is my section for random lists. Yes, I admit it; I have a thing for lists. Right now, I have a Home Depot list (with a single item, Grout Repair kit listed under the heading, after the weekend it will have more I guarantee) and a Target list that is just ongoing. As soon as I leave there I need something else. My iTunes list -- those songs that I might want to download someday... you know the ones that you might think of while driving in your car... or sitting in a meeting.

Section four I reserve for blog ideas. Because I don't just sit down and have loads of ideas float in my head at once. If I don't jot them down, they are gone.

The last page of the notebook is one that never gets torn out and may be the most helpful page of all to me. My list of important numbers. The pediatrician, the dentist, the local Urgent Care (which I have used plenty of times for a "heads up we are on our way your direction" call), the dog groomer, a few babysitters, the admins I work with and our frequent-flier numbers (because I can NEVER find those when I need them). How many times are you presented with a form to fill out or update (think daycare, doctor's office, etc.) and they invariably ask for ALL of your other physicians phone numbers and sometimes your dog groomer's phone number? At least this doesn't happen in meetings.

So everyone run out and get yourself a little notebook. Personalize it as you see fit and fill it with lists.