We packed so much into the last week of 2017 (Christmas, Brendan's birthday, New Year's Eve) that I've been extremely thankful to have this past week to recover. We came home on the first day of 2018 and have spent the past week getting organized both in typical ways (grocery store, unpacking, laundry, putting away Christmas decor) and in atypical ways (we're in the process of cleaning out the office to make way for baby girl's room).
Today, I wanted to share a couple of easy organization projects that I am really enjoying the results of. The first is an idea that came from my friend Emily Shewmaker. You know those people that Martha Stewart has nothing on? Emily is one of them. I always admired her recipe binder in graduate school, but for some reason, my own recipes (collected from friends and family and magazines) ended up folded up inside of a recipe box or inside of a file folder. The recipes would get wet, torn, or lost, and I had to look through a big stack to find the one I wanted. I knew there was an easier way, but I never got around to making my own binder until this week.
The supplies list is simple. You need a binder (mine is just a regular one inch), a package of page protectors (I bought 50, which was plenty to start), and tabs (I recommend the kind you can peel and stick onto the pages rather than dividers which take up space.
If you let your husband design the cover, beware that it may turn out like this:
But whatever. It took me about an hour to catalog something like 50 recipes. I used both front and back sides of each page protector and made tabs for new categories as they came up (I ended up with breakfast, drinks, slow cooker, pizzas, pastas, casseroles, beans, stuffed veggies, Mexican, salads, sides, & desserts). I have extra tabs and can easily make more when I need them. Make sure to blow on the tabs to avoid smearing (I smeared a few, so I could pass on this lesson).
The page protectors worked perfectly for typed of recipes and those I'd torn from magazines.
It also was easy to slide index cards into (and I like that I can take them out when I want to). I didn't obsess over making it perfect (no alphabetizing and my categorizing isn't 100% accurate as some magazine pages contained more than one recipe per page), but it's certainly more useful than the file folder and box method. I also like that my recipes are protected from liquids and other ingredients.
I plan on filling this binder and then starting on "Vol.2" (I can't wait to see what the cover looks like for that one!).
Our next project involved a file cabinet that I purchased at an antique store a few years ago. We've always used it, but the way we used it was a joke; we just stuffed important papers into it and never looked at them again. We could never actually find anything, and so, of course, it wasn't useful.
This project was more time consuming, but we made it through in a few hours. The only thing we purchased was a box of 25 hanging files. If you want to get fancy, you can use the computer to print on your divider tabs, but we wanted the project to go faster and just hand wrote on each tab as new categories came up. Again, I didn't worry about perfection here (some of our categories may seem random, but it is what we needed, and I didn't worry about alphabetizing). Some of the categories we ended up with are: grad school memories, Stacy's evaluations, Brendan's evaluations, cars, investments, insurance, letters of appointment, Brendan 0-18, Stacy 0-18, house papers, tax forms & appraisals, photos, and my favorite category: old papers (whatever that means!) We still have plenty of folders if we decide we need new categories, which I'm sure we will.
Some tips for this project:
You'll probably want to throw out some papers you've been saving if they are digitally backed up or outdated to the point where they are no longer relevant. We recommend using a paper shredder, so you don't throw out any documents containing your personal information.
We plan to go through our file cabinet about once a year and purge anything that's no longer worth saving.
I hope these projects give you some ideas for worthwhile organization techniques. I'm excited to share a future post on how we work around not having a home office. We've already found several ways to make more efficient use of space...post coming when we truly get all the kinks worked out.
Hope everyone's 2018 is off to a good start!