Use your home binder to keep house and pet sitters up to speed and save yourself some time.

You know the drill. You’re getting ready to head out of town and it’s beyond hectic. Between packing, wrapping up work projects and errands, you can’t wait to take a nap on the trip!

The last thing you need is to write last-minute instructions for your house sitter or the pet-sitting service. Even if you use a regular sitter, some concerns have popped into your head during the past week of planning and running around that you want to be sure to communicate. Enter the home binder!

If you’re not familiar with the home binder, here’s a quick synopsis: It’s a three-ring binder with tabbed sections of just about everything you need to run your home. With sections on maintenance, menu planning and gardening, you can stay more organized all year long. Add a few sections to make sure your pet sitter or house sitter has all the information needed to care for your home and domesticated critters:

Emergency information. Include your cell phone and phone numbers of a few willing friends or family members to call if the sitter has an emergency or even a problem or question that the sitter would feel more comfortable bouncing off someone who knows you and your pets well. And add your veterinarian and local emergency animal clinic numbers and locations. Alarm company information can be tricky, but you might want to back up information already disclosed.

Your neighborhood. Include information about neighbors who can help out in a crisis and whether any of them might have back-up keys should the sitter become locked out. Just let your neighbor know the dates you’ll be gone. If you have a neighborhood watch or homeowner association, you should have the contact information in your binder, even though it’s unlikely the sitter will need it.

Pets. In addition to the basics, like feeding amounts and schedules, along with medication instructions if necessary, include names and photos. A brief synopsis of favorite treats, toys or playtime activities can make the time away less stressful for pets. If your dog tends to bolt when the gate opens, let the sitter know in the binder.

Houseplants. If you need house or garden plants watered, put a schedule in your binder (if you haven’t already!) and if you can, include photos or descriptions for the pickiest plants, or simply refer sitters to the garden or houseplant section of your home binder. You can’t assume that a sitter knows the names of plants in your home or garden. Make it fun to avoid being condescending to green-thumbers.

Weird and tricky stuff. Is it normal for the key to stick in the deadbolt on the front door? Do you jingle, pull out or lift to loosen it? (And is there a note in the project section of your binder to fix the darn thing?) Sitters who stay overnight especially need to know the nuances you take for granted. Your binder already might include a section on how to work your television and various components. What about the thermostat or the faucet that drips if not twisted tightly? Do you need to leave a WiFi password or microwave operating instructions?

What’s terrific about the binder is that you only have to compile all of this once, saving it in your computer to update as necessary. Then simply instruct the sitter to “check the home binder” and leave it out in a conspicuous place, open to the sitting section.

Now, take that trip, and that nap.