So that incredibly inspiring photograph up there is my binder. It's the 7x9 size, so half the size of a regular binder and easier to carry around. This has been the other key way I've been able to keep my desk clean for two weeks now. The binder is now the place I write down all the little things I didn't want to forget that I had scrawled on scraps of paper and strew across my desk.
Inside the binder I have lined paper, divider tabs and clear pockets. I also have a small calendar I keep open and tucked in a pocket inside the back flap. I use the divider tabs and clear pockets to divide the notebook into sections. The first thing I see when I open it is the day's schedule. (I'll explain each section in detail later.) I then have my general morning check-list, followed by a list of current, general to-do items, and my evening check-list. The next sections are as following: homeschooling, books, hospitality, adoption, Monday-laundry, Tuesday-sewing, Wednesday-desk, Thursday-kitchen, and Friday-shopping.
I made these sections because these are the areas which I find myself making the most mental notes about. I just can't keep it all in my head any longer. (Actually, I couldn't keep it all in my head before and ended up forgetting a lot of things.) I love having a place to write everything down where I know I'll find it again. The whole thing makes me more relaxed.
So, a brief outline of what I do with each section:
Current day's schedule: The night before I look at the calendar and my to-do lists and create the next day's schedule. This helps me to remember what is coming up and what I need to get done.
Morning schedule: This is in a plastic sleeve since it doesn't change (the plastic sleeves are for things that remain constant that I use as reference). I don't look at it everyday, but it does help to have it written down.
General to-do list: Things that don't require immediate action, but will need to be done. It is the page I look at when I know there is something I could/should be doing, but can't think what it is.
Evening schedule: Same as for the morning schedule.
Homeschooling: I keep lists of what everyone is currently working on, plans for future projects, supplies/books we need, etc. Really it's anything I need to remember having to do with school.
Books: Library card numbers and passwords are listed and live in a plastic sleeve. Then there is a place to write down all the books I hope to read someday. Now, when someone gives me the name of a book, I have somewhere to write it so I can find it again. This is especially helpful when I'm at the library and suddenly can't think of the name of a single book.
Hospitality: Lists of people we would like to invite over, ideas for parties, food ideas, etc.
Adoption: I'm still gathering a dossier together. 'Nuff said.
Monday-laundry: Since I focus on one area each day of the week, it helps to remember from week to week what needs to be done next. With the laundry, it's really just a matter of which special project I was hoping to get to... such as washing a comforter or working on getting a stain out of something or cleaning the laundry room.
Tuesday-sewing: Lists of projects I want to make, supplies I need, bits of information I want to remember.
Wednesday-desk: There always seems to be paperwork and this was often making up the bulk of any to-do lists. This way I spend one day a week working on it. I have a general list of what I need to do (filing, balancing checkbook, updating calendars, etc.) and I keep a running to-do list as well. Need to write a thank you? I put it on the list. Copy and send in papers? On the list. Write our sponsored children? On the list. This one single area has been so helpful to get in hand.
Thursday-kitchen: Lists of things that need to be done in the kitchen (or things I notice that need some cleaning). For instance, if I notice I'm starting to run out of ground flour, I'll make a note to grind more flour on Thursday.
Friday-shopping: Surprisingly, I don't keep my weekly grocery list here. That system was worked out long ago and it's working so I don't want to mess with it. I do keep a running list of all the things we need that are not available at the grocery store. That way when I'm out, I can see exactly what we need and not have to guess.
I still have room to add other sections if I find I need them. For instance, I think I'm going to make another section on the house... projects we need to do, things that need to be fixed, etc. So far I'm happy with how it's working out. I wish I could make it a bit smaller, but I finally gave up on finding a small enough binder which would allow me enough room to put in everything I wanted. And really, I don't go that many places where I have to have it. (I just don't go that many places, actually. But don't worry, I'm OK with that.)
I may have to check back in six months from now and let you know if it's still working and what I would change, but for the moment I'm liking it.