Binders – Organizing Projects onto Pages

This is how I keep my home organized - a binder for every room. I have instruction manuals for appliances, numbers for repairmen, and anything else I might need for when things go wrong! Photo (C) Nancy E. Hill

I have a confession to make – I am still addicted to binders. Many of my friends don’t understand the fact that I insist on using notebooks in the age of laptops, smart phones and Ipads.  Though I do use those technologies, the visual-learner in me loves to hold a binder in my hands, and flip through the pages as I would one of my favorite design books.

Whether for decorating, styling, entertaining, gardening or designing, these notebooks are a way for me to put down the ideas in my head, organize my thoughts and put them into a visual format. I’ve found that a system of binders works for me and for my office staff – so I’m sharing my ideas with you! Here are some of the ways I’ve used binders and notebooks to make my life more organized –

  • Decorating – I have a binder for each room of our house – living room, laundry room, kitchen, master bed room, etc. In each, I keep photos of the room, pictures I tear from magazines or print from online for inspiration when I want to change the look, and fabric or wallpaper swatches. Perhaps, most importantly, every binder holds the instruction manuals for appliance and electronics, and the numbers of repairmen in case something goes wrong.
  • Entertaining – I divide my entertaining binder into menu ideas, table settings, wine recommendations and, of course, food. Whether it’s the bakery with the best bread, the wine shop that delivers, or the caterer who always has something fresh, it makes things easier to have their contact information at the ready.
  • Guest instructions – Having friends stay at your home while you’re away? Having a notebook of instructions for your guests and visitors is a good idea and will put everyone’s mind at ease during their stay. I got the idea from a good friend, and fellow designer, Stephanie Stokes. She created a binder for guests with take-out menus, instructions on using the TV/DVD player/Stereo system, and neighbors who could help in case of an emergency. She even had the notebooks specially bound to blend in with the books on the guest room shelf.
  • Gardening – as with the house decorating binders, I treat the gardens as a series of rooms and divide it accordingly – front drive, back patio, pool surroundings, meadow. I include the people who mow the grass, plow the driveway, clean the pool, and water the flowers. I also have pictures of fabulous gardens that inspire – bright colors and lush greens that I might want to try one day.

Using binders for organization means you have a system that evolves with your tastes and interests. If you are having a hard time getting organized with your thoughts about decorating, or even something as mundane as cleaning the basement—put together a binder and get the process going.  If nothing else, the binder will serve as a reminder of what you would like to be doing) and give you a head start once you are able to begin in earnest.

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