One thing we should all give ourselves more time for is reading manuals. I know, I know, who has time to read the hundreds of pages that come with some electronics these days? The real question should be: Who has enough time and money to not get the full use out of the items they buy? While sitting down and reading the manual might not sound like a fun task, you are very likely to learn a new function your new toy can perform that you never would have guessed it could do. At the very least, you are bound to need to know how to do something on some gadget at some point in life. When that need arises, do you know where your manual is?
First, check the box. If you are someone that saves boxes, there is a good chance you save the manuals in there with them. It’s time to swap the top of the closet, under the bed and the attic for a binder. Binders are a great tool for organizing paperwork and manuals are no exception. Purchase a binder, page protectors and dividers for yourself. In order to figure out how many of each item you’ll need, do the organizing first on this one.
In my life (and throughout my career) I have organized manuals in many different ways. My personal favorite is the binder because you can easily flip through them all instead of digging through file folders or drawers. There are many different ways you can group items. You can group them by function or by frequency of use, but I believe it is easiest to group them by room. If you live in a one-bedroom apartment, it is likely that all of your manuals can fit in one binder. You can use the tabs to represent the different rooms. Personally, I use a 1.5” binder and everything fits perfectly!
If you have a large kitchen or a large home office with a ton of gadgets, or even a ton of new items in your baby’s room, these spaces may need their own manual binder. That’s okay! If your manuals are smaller in size and number, you might be able to fit an entire floor of the house in one binder. That is great too! The only way to really determine how many binders you will need is to gather all of your manuals together.
If you are working on the manuals for an entire home, start small! It can be daunting to tackle this project all at once, so if you don’t want to deal with everything right now, don’t! Start with the room that requires you to use manuals the most. For me, this is the kitchen. Since I have recently started my own Food Adventures, I have acquired some kitchen gadgets that need explaining from time to time. It is also really important to know how to appropriately clean the items in your house. This is not just limited to the kitchen!
Whether you start in the kitchen or any other room, the steps are the same. Take a quick inventory of the items in your room that likely came with a manual. If you store all of your manuals in one place, great! Dig them up and you are ready for the next step. If finding your manuals is a scavenger hunt in itself, take some time to do so. You might need to dig through the boxes the items came in, but that is okay, the time you spend will be worth it!
Once you have all of the manuals you plan to work with, start to name them in a way that makes sense to you. For instance, you might label the manual by the appliance type (e.g. fan) or you might think of it by brand name. Slide each manual into a page protector and label it on the outside of the page protector itself. I like to use a label maker for this process, but you can just as easily use a marker. As you create your manual-holding page protectors, lay them out in alphabetical order. When you are finished, place all of your pages together inside the binder in alphabetical order and make a list of all of the manuals. This allows you to create a Table of Contents for yourself so that you can easily find the exact manual you are looking for right when you need it!