Category: Command Center

Setting Up a Command Center That Works for YOU!!

Have you ever had trouble finding a bill before it was to be paid? Ever missed a birthday party because you couldn’t find the invitation? Have you ever been late because you couldn’t locate your keys?
If you answered yes to any of these questions than you may be entirely over due for creating some sort of command center in your home. Yes, we’ve seen them (in fact I showed a bunch as inspiration on this post just the other day). And while you may have admired them from afar, maybe you weren’t quite sure how to make something like that work for you and your family.
You’re in luck today. Because I devoted today’s post on just that:
As we know, a command center can take many different forms. As I showed the other day, it can be hung on a wall, inside a cabinet or pantry, or simply be placed inside a file box on a counter or desk. The arrangement can vary but the function is relatively the same: to serve as a sort of motherboard for our daily lives. It keeps all that “stuff” that enters our homes organized in a way that we can reference and use at a moments notice. No more searching for school lunch menus or field trip permission slips. Everything is accessible yet put away at the same time.
Crazy idea I know, but it is possible.
First you have to ask yourself some questions. Because this isn’t something just to look at and admire. It actually has to work for YOU and YOUR FAMILy. And let’s face it, everyone is different and so are our families.

Answer these questions for you and your family:

WHERE WOULD A COMMAND CENTER MAKE SENSE

FOR ME AND MY BROOD?

Take a moment and walk through your day. Think about where you typically enter your home. Where do you drop things such as your purse, keys, backpacks, mail? Where do piles tend to form?
Now that you have an idea as to the general location that would be most convenient, take a moment to think about and ask yourself:

WHAT TYPES OF THINGS TEND TO CREATE THOSE PILES?

Do you have a general place for kids’ homework to land, bills to be paid, and schedules to reference? Start writing down a list of what kinds of things either pile up, get lost, or just look and feel cluttered.

And to help you think I came up with a list of possible ideas:

(These are in no particular order and are not limited by any means. Again this is to work for YOU so choose and add what works for YOUR self/family.)
  • 1 central family calendar for all to reference
  • Inbox for each family member
  • Message board to write notes/reminders for yourself or each other
  • Bulletin board to display other calendars/schedules, invitations, pictures, etc.
  • Place for mail–in and outgoing
  • Place for bills–to be paid and also filed
  • Place for things pending–to reference at a later date
  • Place for coupons/sales ads
  • Grocery lists/Meal planning
  • Job charts
  • Emergency numbers and other home reference information
  • Place to hang/store keys
  • Charging station
  • Place for receipts
  • Place to hang purse or backpacks
  • Place to store kids’ school work
  • Writing tools and other supplies (stapler, paper clips, calculator)
Once you have come up with a general location
as well as what you want to organize in this space, then ask:

WHAT IS MY/OUR PERSONALITY AND ORGANIZING STYLE?

Are you a visual/creative person that likes things visually appealing? Are you impulsive that needs lists to stay on task? Are you a perfectionist who needs structure and tidiness? Think about these kinds of things when planning the type of command center that will work for you. Some people don’t like things filed as it results in the old “out of sight out of mind”. Instead they need things in front of them as reminders. Be conscious of these things when planning.
Last but not least is not really a question
as much as it is just a reality with any type of organizing:

MAKE IT A HABIT.

Just because you spent hours planning and designing this super organized space for you and your family doesn’t mean it will be effective–unless you make it. And the only way to do that is through practice. Make a conscious effort to put things back where they belong and get rid of what is no longer needed. Your organized space can very quickly become unorganized if it isn’t maintained.

Here are some quick tips I have found useful

while maintaining our command center:

LABEL EVERYTHING.

When things are labeled it is easier to keep them organized because each spot has its own specific function. Do not make the mistake of labeling anything with “miscellaneous” because it becomes a catchall for who knows what and defeats the purpose of trying to get organized in the first place.

Go through the new system with everyone who will use it.

Make sure everyone understands that everything now has a place and that you are all responsible for your own part. If you are the only one that knows how to use it, you will be forever frustrated because it isn’t being utilized correctly.

WEED THROUGH MAIL IMMEDIATELY.

The second it is brought into the house, recycle/shred any junk mail. Remove envelopes as they are just extra paper.
If you receive a lot of unwanted “junk” mail, 
consider removing your name from unwanted mailing lists such as:
  • www.dmachoice.org (Sometimes takes a month of two to fully process the request.)
  • www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm to opt out of Valpak coupons.
  • www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org to stop Yellow Pages phone book delivery to your home.
 Hopefully you now have a clearer picture or idea as to how to create your own type of command center for you and your family. If you’d like to read more about how I designed ours, go here. I plan to show a few more “tweaks” I recently made to ours as well as a new daily planner I created. Tune in later this week for those!

Command Center New Addition: Chalkboards

A while back I posted about our family command center. (See that post here.)

I love most almost everything about this space because it gives a place for pretty much every bit of paper that used to land on our counters.
I say almost everything because there was one small part that was not
really easily used and made the wall look cluttered:
the bulletin board towards the top of the wall.

Because it was so high, it wasn’t very practical for someone my height (I’m only 5’1). And besides that, the pockets below were created to hold
most of what would go up there anyway.

I found these chalkboards at Hobby Lobby. They were $4.99 a piece and were 30% off of that. So I went ahead about bought six of them.

Hubs drilled a hole on each side.

He used the first one as a guide to make sure the others were all the same.
I decided to use one chalkboard for each day of the week (and one for the weekend). I found a fun font on my computer and printed out the days of the week. I simply taped them on because I’m not sure that they are going to stay that way.
You know me, always changing it up. 🙂
Each person has been assigned a color so I wrote the cleaning and laundry schedule for each day. This makes it easy to see what needs to be done (around the house) and whose responsibility it is.  The jobs are mainly mine with a few of Ryan’s (aka Hub’s). The kids have their own responsibility chart. (More on that in another post.)
I used chalk markers that I found at Michaels. They don’t rub off like chalk unless you get it wet.

I think this is going to serve a much better purpose
and doesn’t look quite as cluttered.

Wondering what happened to the bulletin board?

There was a wall behind our door leading to the basement
that has been begging for something to be hung.

Not sure what happened to the color in these pics.
The wall isn’t really splotchy like this.

Perfect place to hang those odds and ends: invitations, pictures, etc. That door is open most of the time so I don’t have to worry if it is starting to look cluttered.
**Stay tuned tomorrow and I’ll show you how to come up with a cleaning and laundry schedule that works for you as well as some free printables. 

Kitchen Command Center

I had this very tall, blank wall on the side of my refrigerator that was needing some love. Being that we spend the majority of our days at home in the kitchen/family room, and the counters can easily become a dumping ground for mail (bills, magazines, cards) and other paperwork, I decided it was the perfect spot for a command center.
The bottom portion of the wall contains three sets of wall pockets from the Container Store. They are clear so I dressed them up a bit with some pretty paper and vinyl lettering. In each of our pockets we have an “info” file and an “action” file. Info is for things that give information but need no response or action. This works well for the kids especially because once they are in school they are constantly getting paperwork sent home that is sometimes just for informational purposes that you may need to hold onto for a bit. This folder gives those types of things a home. The action file is obviously for things that need action such as something that needs to be signed or sent out, etc. The Bills to Pay and File pocket is pretty self explanatory. I again keep two different file folders in it to separate things that need to be paid or taken care of from things that need to be filed away. The Pending file is for things that are…pending. This is a partial tickler file system. It contains 1 file folder for each month of the year. This has been so handy for all of those things that I need to take care of or reference at a later date. For example: I knew we were getting our roof redone but not until later in July. So all the roof info goes into the July folder.  When I run across ideas for my daughter’s birthday party I put them in the October file. Then at the beginning of the month I take the folder out and deal with its contents.
This system has worked well for us and I’ve tried a bunch. It gives everything a place–rather than the kitchen counter. The one leftover that I usually have from the mail is magazines. These either go in a basket on the end table by the couch or on my bedside table because those are the places I will sit down and read them. (If/when I get the time. 🙂
The one must with this (as with just about any system) is that it has to be maintained or these pockets will become stuffed and therefore unusable. That leads me to the next areas of the command center.
 This area contains a small bucket of pens and other supplies that are needed often, a magnetic message board where I often keep a to do list and sometimes a shopping list, and a giant magnetic family calendar from Target. (It looks like they may have discontinued it but here is something I found that seems similar only instead of monthly it is weekly.) Each square has 5 blank lines (1 for each family members–including the dogs) and a line for the meal that day/night. Helps to keep everyone’s crazy schedules in one central spot.
Once the mail comes in, I look through everything and write down pertinent information on my lists or calendar and then decide whether I need to keep the paper or get rid of it.

 Above my calendar is a large bulletin board I covered in fabric and ribbon (just to make it pretty). There I keep my cleaning calendar and any other schedules or calendars I need to reference often (it’s summer so we don’t have too many schedules right now). I will sometimes place an invitation up there if I need to keep it for some reason. Often times, I just write it down on our calendar and get rid of it. The less paper the better.
The very top of our command center is our time zone clocks. Both our families live in different states and time zones. I thought this would be the perfect way to keep track of that. I decided to make a little sign on top and give this area a name. Since this sort of our central hub, “Waterman Central” seemed fitting.
Tip of the day: Color Coding. As you can see each of our wall pockets is a different color. I am a very visual person. I use this with our calendar as well. Each family member is written in a different color (the same color as their wall pocket). Everyone knows which color is theirs which makes it very easy to spot quickly on the calendar.