Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Organize: Brain In A Binder

This is from Karen Ehman and she is the creator of Brain In A Binder and she wrote this note on her facebook page today.  I have made a Brain In A Binder after hearing her at a Conference and it is here on my blog if you want to see it.

Here is what she has to say:
Okay ladies….I have a break now to jump on for a few minutes. Here is a tool that I came up with that has saved many a headache at our house and has helped me to keep up on my piles of paper.
It is what my family & I like to call my “brain in a binder”. This tool has enabled me to greatly reduce the refrigerator clutter at our house. It is a folder designed to hold your short term files, keeping them at your finger tips for those times you need to refer to them.
I have known many women who have used various folder systems to keep their papers is one place. After much trial and error, here’s how I like to keep mine. (Don’t let this idea hem you in. Modify it. Tweak it. Make it your own. The point is to get those annoying papers off of the fridge!!!)
First, choose a one or one and a half inch binder. I think it is fun to have one that has a clear plastic cover designed to hold an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper. You can make a collage of pictures of your family to slip down in that slot. (This, ladies, is the extent of my scrapbooking efforts. I simply stink at it! But make one cute page? Well that I can handle!)

Next place in the front one or more clear page protectors. You may use these sheets to place any of the following you wish.
• Your mission statement as a woman, wife or mom
• Some quotes or Bible verses that help you keep your eternal perspective
• Any routines or weekly plans you may have (Monday is laundry; Tuesday is menu planning & shopping; Wednesday is laundry & weekly cleaning; etc…)
Some gals like to purchase 8 ½ X 11 inch calendar pages from an office supply store and put these in the front as well. In this way, this binder would serve as your calendar as well.
Maybe you want to add an address book, or a three-hole punched notepad, whatever goes! Just make this tool work for you, keeping you on top of things and helping to alleviate those dreadful piles!
Behind these, place as many three hole punched folders that you need. (I like to use sturdy, vinyl ones) Label them with a computer label or peel and stick name tag. I have one that says “mom”, one that says “dad”, three more- each with a different child’s name on it and one that says “speaking”. In these I slip fliers, invitations, emails, maps, class lists, team rosters, sports schedules, directions to women’s groups I am speaking at, etc…. Any papers I may need to refer to at some point in the near future. They all go into the folders, divided according to whose activity it relates to.
These folders help me to keep organized in several ways. First, they alleviate the constant clutter on my fridge front. All of the papers are still nearby. I can get to them when I need them. But they no longer make my refrigerator door look messy. I don’t insist on a bare fridge door but I’d rather see some of my kid’s artwork or photos of family and friends. Even an occasional recipe to try or funny quote is fine, but I don’t like a kaleidoscope of colored activity fliers screaming at me and falling off when I open the fridge door..
Secondly, these folders help my calendar stay looking neater. How so? Well, instead of trying to squeeze in all of the info about particular event, say a baby shower, like the time it starts, the address, driving directions, RSVP phone number and stores where mom and baby are registered, I can simply write the event and time on the proper square on my calendar. Then I put the actual invitation in the folder labeled mom. When it is time to shop for a gift or to drive to the shower, all I need to do is grab my “brain in a binder” and retrieve the invitation to read any info I might need to know.
I can also transfer all of the dates from the various schedules that come my way- sports, school, church etc… onto our family wall calendar or my own personal planner. Some moms color code their kid’s activities- blue for family; red for Emily; green for Austin; etc… I am not that detailed. I actually prefer to write in my planner and on my wall calendar in pencil. That way if plans change, it doesn’t end up looking so nasty if you have to change them on the page.
This tool also helps to reduce parental headaches. If it is my turn to make treats for my boy’s homeschool co-op class on a Thursday, I can simply turn to the proper folder to see how many students are in the class. If my ride suddenly falls through for baseball practice, I can easily flip to my son’s folder, pull out the team roster and call another parent to see if he can carpool with them that night.
My kids also love this folder. If they need to know any information about one of their clubs, sports or organizations, they can grab the binder and look up the needed paper. But they know the two most important rules. PUT THE PAPER BACK IN THE PROPER FOLDER ONCE YOU HAVE LOOKED AT IT AND NO ONE REMOVES MOM’S BINDER FROM HER DESK TOP!!! This directive is to be strictly adhered to!
This “brain in a binder” doesn’t need much upkeep. It usually is pretty good at weeding itself out. When an event is over, toss the invitation in the trash. Is it the end of a season? Pitch the papers for the sports that are now through.
Clear enough? I really encourage you to try this idea at least for a few months. As I said, it is not hard to throw together. It is actually kind of fun. Why you could even have an Amazon Women night and you and a few friends could go out for coffee to brainstorm, make a trip to the office supply store and then swing by the grocers to get a few snacks before heading to someone’s house to assemble your ‘brains’! Don’t forget to bring along some pictures of your clan and a few scrapbooking supplies to make a clever cover for the front (and back, if you wish!) Perhaps you will want to add even more to your brain in a binder. That’s great!! Customize it in a way that works for you.
Happy pile-busting!!!

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