How to Gain Control of Your Paper -Get Organized with Notebooks

Organization is the key to help any home run smoothly. When you get organized with notebooks it just makes that key turn more easily in the lock. It not only unlocks the clutter, but also can appeal to your creative nature.

Why Would I Get Organized with Notebooks?

pink, white, and purple notebooks stacked behind a pile of dividers, 3-hole punch, and manila envelopes -to help you get organized with notebooks

First and foremost, there is a psychology behind getting organized. It helps you to feel better, frees the mind, and helps to relieve stress.

In the most general sense, getting organized means ‘a place for everything & everything in its place’.  And that’s where it helps to get organized with notebooks.

We have a Things to Do list posted on our refrigerator to remind us of tasks that need to be done.  To prevent the ‘What’s for Dinner?’ question, we prepare a weekly menu, and post that to the refrigerator. And to add to that, we have a running grocery list tacked up there, too. Can we even see it all?

In other areas in the home, we have a shoebox filled with recipes we want to try.  Our filing cabinets are stuffed to overflowing. We did finally find that one document we needed last week but aren’t sure where it landed once it came out of the file.

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We have a mental list of emergency contacts.  If we go on vacation, we need to write a list out for the house sitter.  And somewhere there is a stack of forms I printed out to help me get organized, but there is no telling where they are or if they got tossed in the trash.

My biggest organizational challenge has been to know what I want to do, know I have seen something like it, but have no clue as to where to find it.  In order to combat that challenge, I began to get organized with notebooks.  Actually, it started out as one, but with all the great ideas I have found, I am now starting to expand.

If you are like me, you hate to waste time scrolling through posts, pages, and praying that you ‘Liked’ that one on Facebook and spend an hour searching through your list.  I finally gave that up, and if I really like the post and planned on trying it, I began printing them out.  Immediately.

Have you found yourself in the same boat?  Are you tired of not knowing or unable to find something you really need?  Then this is why you should get organized with notebooks. I did, and now I can find most anything that is paper related.

How Getting Organized with Notebooks Helps

notebook opened to a page on directions for weaving a scarf

Notebooks come in many sizes and colors.  They fit perfectly on a bookshelf and are usually within arm’s reach.  When you are looking for a particular thing, all you have to do is go straight to the notebook to find it.

Notebooks can also be broken down into categories using tabbed dividers.  Instead of searching through every page of a 4” binder, you can simply find the proper section and find what you are looking for in a matter of seconds.

When you get organized with notebooks, you also prevent a lot of clutter, and save time by not having to search all over the house to find one simple sheet of paper.

If you do go on vacation, lists for the house or pet sitter can be copied and put on the refrigerator.  If they get lost or misplaced, the original is still in the notebook waiting for the next vacation.

What Areas Can I Get Organized with Notebooks?

notebook opened to directions on how to make a cheese press

Just about any area of your life that requires lists, documents, instructions or anything else that goes on paper can be organized with notebooks.  These are some of the areas that work well with this system:

  • Finances
  • Documents (loans, birth certificates, deeds, etc.)
  • Manuals (homemaking, Christmas, vehicle, appliances, etc.)
  • Crafts
  • Recipes
  • Books (personal library, reading lists, etc.)
  • Planners / Schedules

These are just some of the things you can get organized with notebooks.  Some of us may have other areas, such as education (workshops, courses, etc.) and church or other organizations. 

Some categories may fit into one binder, using dividers for each section.  For me, I keep a notebook of recipes I want to try, along with tabs for techniques I think will help and an equipment wish list.

Our farm has its own notebook.  In it we keep financial information, births, deaths, equipment documentation, and more. 

We also added a manila envelope to the back to keep each year’s receipts for tax purposes.  Each year those receipts are pulled out and clipped together.  They then go into the Tax notebook which has tabs for each year – up to 10 years.

Getting Organized with Notebooks – the How To

pink, white, and purple notebooks stacked behind a pile of dividers, 3-hole punch, and manila envelopes

The Tools:

With every organization project, the first took you will need is some time.  Depending on the state of your current system, this could take a couple of hours or a few days. 

It is best to take your time and do it right the first time.  This way, once it is done and your notebooks are on the shelf, you can walk away knowing that anything you may need is right there.  No more searching through boxes, bags and closets.

The remaining tools are simple.  For each category you want to get organized with notebooks, you will need:

All of these items can be purchased at the Dollar Store or ordered online.  As for the notebooks, it may be best to get the ones that have a plastic cover, which allows you to insert a cover or spine. 

Although a cover isn’t necessary, having a spine with the title of the notebook comes in very handy when you need a specific notebook.  If your notebook doesn’t have the plastic cover, a label works just as well. Just make sure you tape these in place, as the glue on the back of labels doesn’t always stick well or for the long haul.

Notebooks also come in different colors.  You can color coordinate them with just white or black binders or add a bit of color.  Adding color adds a second layer of organization.  You will automatically know that your finances are in the green notebook, so you will search for that color when you need to do some budget work.

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A Few Extra Tips

For a Business

One of the biggest ways I get organized with notebooks is for work. As a blogger, I am always doing research on how to manage my blog.  Having a blog notebook helps me keep printouts and details on things like SEO, Keywords, Content and other information organized.

I am looking forward to doing a YouTube channel, podcasts and other extensions for my blog. Information on doing those have their own section. I also keep a running list of future posts I want to research and write about.

I also write books and newspaper columns.  In my business notebook I keep records of columns written, images used, outlines and publishing information and dates.  Several times I have had to look back to see what has been done, to keep myself from writing a repeat column. 

Whether you are a blogger or have another type of business, getting organized with a notebook comes in handy for research, legal documentation and tax purposes, and so much more.

a woman writing in an open notebook surrounded by crafting supplies

As a Crafter

I have to confess.  This is probably my favorite notebook, as well as the one most used.  My original one was created in the late 80’s and is stuffed to overflowing.  Before long, it will be time to divide up each craft and put it in its own notebook.  I have already done this with weaving but have so many more to go!

If you only have one craft, a notebook is still great place to organize all of your projects.  You can have one section for directions, one that holds a worksheet for each project (this will include the pattern, equipment, supplies, etc.)

If you only have two or three crafts, a single, larger notebook might be sufficient.  But if you have more areas of creating than that, you may want to consider a better system, and get organized with notebooks for each one.

Ready-Made Notebooks

If you are a homemaker, one of the best notebooks to have is a Homemakers Manual.  If you don’t already have one, this one is a great place to start! 

notebook opened to a workbook page for pantry inventory

The Ultimate Manual for the Art of Homemaking is already done for you.  There are worksheets you can use for things such as In the Home (cleaning schedules, chore lists, financial, ICE [In Case of Emergency], decorating, and more); In the Kitchen (inventory lists and worksheets on equipment & supplies, recipes, tips, and more), and In the Garden (seed lists, garden planner sheet, how much to grow, etc.).  

Have a Merry Simple Christmas notebook opened to the meal planning page

A second ready-made notebook can help you get organized for Christmas.  It is the Merry, Simple Christmas notebook and contains everything you need to create a happy holiday for you and your family. In it you will find:

  • Getting Organized
  • Meal Planning
  • Recipes
  • Gift Ideas
  • DIY Directions
  • Worksheets (lists, meal plans, gift planning, etc.)

Getting Creative with your Notebooks

man's hands drawing a bouquet of lilies on a notebook cover

Once you’ve had the chance to get organized with notebooks, take it to the next level and put your personal touch on each one.  Consider a ready-made or hand drawn graphic to add to your notebook spine.  If you chose a notebook with a front cover, draw or create a cover that reflects the content of the notebook.

If you have a graphics program or are familiar with Canva, you can easily create the cover, forms, worksheets and more for the interior and exterior of your notebook. You can also add smaller graphics, drawings or stickers to the divider tabs.

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Are you Ready to Get Organized?

Keeping all of your important documents, lists, worksheets and crafting ideas in a notebook is a great way to get started.  Once they are completed, anything you need can be found quickly and easily.

And when you get organized with notebooks, it may just lead you to getting the rest of your home cleaned and organized.  Just think of all the blessings that would be!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.


  1. Wow!!! Where have you been when I needed you? I’m a would be organizer too. Have too many lists waiting for your common sense style. I have the beginnings and now you give me the nitty/gritty details to fill in the blank spots. Sooooo comfortable with you at my side. Many, many thanks. Katyskid #1 here on Utah

    1. Hi, Donna! You are more than welcome! I know that if anything catastrophic happened around here, I would probably leave the valuables and grab my notebooks – they are what keeps me organized and moving forward! 🙂
      I’m glad you stopped by for a visit. If you need any help, just email me and let me know!

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