Small Organization

How We Use Our Home Management Binder

We are prone to paper clutter.  Are we alone?  I don’t know what it is, but we have lived for the past three years of our marriage with piles of papers around the house, usually on the dining room table.  We make lists and leave them out so we remember to look at them.  When mail comes in, instead of having a place for all the different types, they would sit in different piles.  I can’t stand it anymore!  So, I decided to become proactive!  I created a home management binder using mostly free printables (for now) until we know for sure it works for us.  I’m tempted to design my own binder pages one day, but for now, it seems to be working for us.  Come along on a tour of our Home Management Binder!


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Planning on the Go

I work as a nanny ten hours a day with an additional hour and a half of driving total as my commute. I am also a photographer and wedding season and just busy season in general is upon me, so I am not lying when I say I am away from my home a lot! I use my Filofax religiously to keep track of what I need to do each day while I’m nannying, while the little boy I watch naps (my productive time), and after I get home from work.  In order for me to know what I need to do, I have to bring my Filofax with me, but it’s too big for my purse, so I came up with another solution.


A few months ago, the planning/organizing online community went nuts for the Orla Kiely Weekender makeup bags at Target (link is to the version they currently have in stock that is different than the one I purchased which is discontinued, I believe).  Although, the bag is designed for makeup, it is the perfect size for planners, pens, scissors, and other planning accessories.  I pinned one down and bought it just before they discontinued them.  It fits perfectly in my Thirty-One tote I bought a couple years ago that I bring with me to work every day along with my laptop in the pink sleeve.


I love getting inspiration from others of how they plan on the go, so I thought I would share what I keep in here on a typical day.


My A5 Aqua Malden Filofax fits perfect in the left pocket.  It’s nice and safe in there and is easy to take out.


In the middle organizer, I keep extra pencils, pens, highlighters, scissors, magnetic paper clips, and a dry-erase marker.


It can fit a lot!



On the other side of the middle organizer, there is a zipped pouch where I keep some notepads.  I love me some notepads!


On the right full-size pocket opposite of the one I keep my Filofax in, I keep the following:


My rainbow assortment of Staedtler pens I used for color-coding and doodling.


My journal and two oft-used notepads.


My decorating/renovating and organization project management notebooks.


And a pencil case with some washi tape, extra pencils, lead, and a Bic Wite-Out.


Can’t it fit a lot?  Honestly, I don’t use all of these things on a daily basis, but I have used all of these things at one time or another, so it is convenient for me to have them all with me at home and at work.  The bag has held up very nicely over the past couple of months and has just worked so well for my needs.  I am dying to know how you stay organized on the go!

How I Organize Our Organizing

Okay, that sounds a little obsessive, right?  Well, with a first house, a huge renovation, and my Type A personality, I think it is perfectly sane to organize our organizing!

What exactly do I mean by organizing our organizing?  Well, last week, I wrote about how I use Pinterest to keep track of specific ideas for our home and break it down by each room.  As promised, I’m back today with a video about how we keep track of the projects in a more tangible way by using notebooks.  Watch the video to learn more and then scroll down for links to things I mentioned in the video.

Links to things mentioned in the video:

For the Lady Who Hauls it All

Would you believe me if I said that I searched for a purse (and I mean searched) for eight months with no luck?  Seriously, who does that? Unfortunately, it is true.  You see, I am slightly picky when it comes to shopping, especially when it comes to shopping for something I will use all the time.

Back in November, I realized that I wanted a purse that could fit everything I want to carry around with me.  As a business owner, it is important to me to have my planner on hand so I can respond to client emails on the go with dates I am available and so on.  Plus, my brain retains no information, so it is important for me to have a place to jot down any information that would otherwise get lost in my head.

I had just a few requirements for my new purse.  It had to have the option to be a crossbody bag because I was sick of having a sore shoulder from carting around a heavy purse on one side of my body.  It had to be either light blue (or mint green) or a light gray.  It had to be high-quality because I plan on using it for a long time.  It had to be just the right size – not too big or too small.  Because I am constantly going into and out of my purse, it had to have an easy way to close it.  It had to be somewhat affordable (read under $100).  And, it had to be cute.  No big deal, right?

Wrong.  Very, very wrong.  I spent a few whole days scouring the internet for the perfect purse over the course of a few months, I visited store after store, I asked for suggestions on social media, I regularly checked stores that I loved to no avail.  Eventually, I realized I needed to think outside the box.

As a photographer, I bought a cute camera bag a couple years ago for weddings and everyday use.  It is the Betsy bag in mustard from Jo Totes.  I love how versatile it is, the amazing quality, its affordable price, and how it does not look like a camera bag.  When I really got serious about finding a purse because I could not wait any longer, I searched Jo Totes for a camera bag that I would use as a purse.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

Then, I found her.  The Allison bag in mint.  When I saw the bag online, I was certain that it had met all but one of my requirements.  The only thing I was unsure of was the price.  So, using the dimensions on the website, I made a mockup out of paper and carried it around my house.  Nerdy?  Probably, but it helped me make my decision.  I was able to lay out all of my purse necessities on the paper mockup version and a few seconds later, she was purchased.

Because it was such a struggle for me to find the right purse, I wanted to give you a detailed look at this particular purse and what I keep inside of it.  You know, in case any of you carry your whole life in your purse like I do.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

This purse is definitely just as beautiful and well-made as I thought it would be.  It has a front pocket with a flap, a main compartment that easily zips close, two zipped pockets within the main pocket, and a back compartment that also has a zipped pocket.  The main compartment is velcro lined (the soft side that doesn’t stick to everything) and it comes with a couple dividers should I decide to use it as a camera bag and want to divide it into sections.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

This is a view of what I keep in the main compartment.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

I keep my wallet, my planner, a pen case, business cards, a tablet, and a portable keyboard in the open part.  I’m going to break down each item as well.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

This is the wallet I use for my everyday purchases.  It is this Merona wallet from Target.  I hold my debit cards, license, library card, loyalty cards, and medical card in here.  I also keep a checkbook and my own personal blow money (money allocated in our budget that I can use to buy anything I want).  Later on, I will do a few posts on how we budget since we use a cash budget (envelope system) and how we keep that organized.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

A few months ago, I bought my first Filofax planner.  I had used an Erin Condren Life Planner before that, and although I loved it in so many ways, I needed something smaller and more customizable.  I actually recorded a two part Youtube video about this subject (Part 1 and Part 2).  I currently use the personal sized Dakota Filofax, but it is no longer for sale on the Filofax website.  I actually purchased it in their sale section because I did not want to pay big bucks for the Filofax I really wanted before I knew if I liked the system.  I am sure I will do a more in-depth look at my Filofax (especially when I update it), but for now, the Youtube videos give a lot of information.  The pen case I use is this pink and white one from Target.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

A little over a month ago, I received a Nexus 7 tablet (and this case) for my birthday along with a Zagg Flex portable keyboard.  I really wanted this combination for business purposes.  Eventually, I hope to get a calendar going that I can sync to my iPhone and my tablet so that I can easily add reminder and appointments for my business.  I also love that I can surf the web, add notes to my Evernote, and use my apps on the go, so it was extremely important that these could both fit in my purse.  I don’t carry them around with me always (like when I am just running errands), but I carry them often enough to need room for them in my purse.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

In the front pocket, I carry the items I need the easiest access to.

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

This includes my phone and two sets of keys.  On one key chain, I hold our house key and the key/remote for my car.  On the other keychain, I keep the keys to my husband’s car (as well as a whistle – I used to be a teacher and you never know when a whistle may come in handy).

Allison Purse in Mint Jo Totes Organization

In the two zipped pockets within the main compartment, I hold the little items I don’t need all the time but might need at some point.  I did not picture my feminine products (I don’t think we need a visual of that).  I keep a Thirty One case with tweezers, nail clipper, bobby pins, and some hair bands.  I have a purse hook to keep my purse off the floor at restaurants.  I also carry chapstick, some tissues, a compact mirror, a flamingo keychain (I found it years ago and I don’t get rid of it in case it brings me luck!), a mini six-foot tape measure, and a whistle and pepper spray in case of an emergency.

All of that fits into my purse with some room to spare!  And, my purse isn’t huge with tons of space for everything to get lost in.  Although I’m really happy with my purse organization, I always love new tips and tricks, so feel free to share yours in the comments!

Sidenote: I am not affiliated with Jo Totes in any way and did not receive any compensation for this blog post.  I simply love their products and wanted to share my love with others!