Long live the trapper-keeper.

Zippered shut. Color-coded insides. Hidden pockets stashing crumpled love notes. The interior showcasing your superior academic skills. The exterior plastered with images of Barbie, Hello Kitty or basketballs, expressing your amazing design sense.

Remember when trapper-keepers were all the rage? For me, it was sometime between grades third and sixth. The concept so simple, but an absolutely vital social accessory and academic organizer.

Well, the trapper-keeper hasn’t died. In fact, instead of delivering insta-popularity in grade school, it’s bringing hope for an organized and efficient home life.

In case you haven’t yet caught on, I must warn you: this post contains a high dosage of organizational tips and tricks. If you’re closer to a type-Z than A, and if words like “simplify” and “declutter” cause your eyes to glaze over, you may want to tune out now. Just sayin’, I go a little overboard sometimes.

For those of you who are still with me, congrats. If we aren’t already, we should be buds.

How a trapper-keeper can improve your home life…

It starts with a simple binder. (Or two.)

Repurpose if you’re able. Mine are actually from my junior year science fair project. (The same project that landed me in Phoenix, AZ, where I met my hubby. And changed my whole life for the better. No biggie or anything.)

My binders are skinny, hence the reason for two. Binder numero uno is devoted to the less personal, more household-focused stuff.

And it covers, well, practically everything. Like:

  • yearly goals
  • monthly to-do lists (stemming from the yearly goals) focused on health, home, spirit and play
  • to-don’t list (because it’s silly to write “don’t drink pop” on a to-do list…. but maybe that’s just me?)
  • menu plans (including quick breakfasts, sack lunches, homecooked suppers, snacks and drinks)
  • fresh home weekly and bi-weekly cleaning skeds, such as:

Of course, I don’t beat myself up (well, not too much) if life gets in the way of my cleaning schedule. It serves as a checklist, for the moments where clothes-washing leads to dusting, which leads to trash-emptying, which leads to gutting the entire pantry to find a single garbage bag, which eventually leads to exhaustion… and then the dryer buzzes. The list is meant to prevent the never-ending-Saturday-morning-cleaning fest which rattles nerves and destroys peace in the home. It’s also meant for more eyes than my own (ahem-Kelby’s).

Next, we have:

  • shopping list
  • groceries (including a list of ingredients we typically have on hand)
  • household supplies (again, including kitchen, bathroom/toiletries, cleaning, laundry, office and other random supplies) – check it:

The point of these lists is to avoid multiple trips to the grocery store or Target. You know you’ve done it… where you go to buy shampoo and, soon after returning home, realize you’re also out of razorblades and your mascara’s getting clumpy. It happens to the best of us. But, if I can remember to scan over these lists ahead of time, I may prevent a follow-up errand run.

And, while we’re still under the shopping list category, I’ve included:

  • what to wear lists, for both of us (so we know when it’s time to purchase some snazzy new duds… and to avoid impulse buys, speaking of which…)
  • budget (yep, I keep it right next to the shopping list. Sneaky, huh?)
  • home projects (a master wish list of improvements we’d like to make, when said budget allows, of course)
  • packing list (notice how it falls after “home projects” – as if us homebodies would ever spend our disposable income on trips to exotic places over trips to the hardware store!)

And that’s it for binder #1. On to numero dos, the more personal of the two:

Instead of writing “dear diary, I’m in love with _____” like I’m sure I did in my fourth grade trapper-keeper (not to mention, it would get pretty old and boring to read “dear diary, I’m in love with my husband” day in, day out), this journal has a different set of priorities, such as:

  • health (including mine and his checkup dates and any concerns)
  • food tracker (cals in)
  • sweat log (cals out)
  • this simple way to reflect on my blessings:

And other non-traditional journaling topics, like:

  • learn to lead (inspiration from devotions, books, song lyrics, Bible verses)
  • love & serve (ideas of how to fulfill my duty as wife, daughter, sister, employee, friend, member [of organizations, community, church] and whatever other roles I play in this life)
  • entertaining ideas (because I’m always planning a party)
  • birthdays (so I can plan gifts, cards and cupcakes accordingly, obviously!)
  • prayer list
  • blog ideas (because, even though I don’t post that often, my brain’s constantly publishing ideas)
  • simple ponders (in other words: a catch-all for everything else)… kind of like a kitchen junk drawer (because even the most organized of us have one!)

That’s it. Simple does it. Binders, some cardstock and a pack of loose-leaf notebook paper and, voila! You have one very organized 2011.

If you’re rolling on the ground laughing at my OCD tendencies, shame on you. I have a life, I promise.

And if you’re inspired to make your own, kudos to you.

But, remember!

No matter how much we try to plan and organize our lives, the ultimate truth is that we’re not in control. There’s nothing wrong with being hyper-organized, but there’s no getting around the fact that He’s guiding the pen, writing the story of our lives.

If life feels like it’s spinning out of control, don’t turn to a silly trapper-keeper. Look to the Keeper of the stars.

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3 thoughts on “Long live the trapper-keeper.

  1. Your binders are even cooler in person!! Why did all the organizational genes go to you?? :)

  2. Pingback: Baby to-do’s. «

  3. Pingback: Why I choose to work outside the home. | living simply + loving deeply

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