"A command center enables an organization to function as designed, to perform day-to-day operations regardless of what is happening around it, in a manner in which no one realizes it is there but everyone knows who is in charge when there is trouble."
A home command center or information center helps your family stay organized. It keeps track of the essential information you need to manage the household and to run your family's daily activities.
The 4 essential elements of a home command center are:
1. why 2. purpose 3. location 4. organizing style.
You'll learn how to identify what your family needs in a command center.
You'll find out how to customize your home command center to compliment your organizing style and space allotment.
Remember when it comes to keeping your family on schedule, the home command center is your sanity saver.
ELEMENTS OF A HOME COMMAND CENTER
1. YOUR WHY
Creating a home command center will keep your daily home life running smoothly. It puts you in active rather reactive mode. You'll know where you’re going and how to get there.
Having a home command center has become more important than ever since coronavirus (COVID-19). Many of us are working from home or schooling from home for the first time. Having a system to manage fluctuating schedules is key.
A command center manages four activies: the papers coming in, what to do with these papers, papers going out, and reference information. Your home command center can include whatever you need it to. You might use it to sort important mail and documents, plan chores and schedules, your shopping list, your meal plans, your daily goals, family time and more. Having a dedicated information center at home will keep your home running smoothly.
A command center keeps much of the day-to-day clutter at bay. The command center can be a place to drop all your paper items when you come home, kids artwork, papers you have to sign, coupons, takeout menus. For the papers you want to keep, set up homes for them to keep it off your kitchen counter.
Your home command is also the one place for all the important things: YMCA schedules, appointments, invitations, chore lists, grocery lists, meal menus etc. Imagine, after working all day you go to your mailbox to find, some weekly flyers, a few new bills, an invitation to a retirement party. You sort through the mail quickly, open your bills, write their due dates on the calendar, and then add these bills to your “Bills,” wall pocket. Then you look through your ads, recycle them, or place them in a wall pocket marked "later" or "to-do". Write the date of the retirement party on the calendar and pin the invite to the cork board. Easy!
Gallery Wall Command Center
2. YOUR PURPOSE
What is the purpose of your command center? Decide on the top areas in your home life that need the most structure and incorporate them into a dynamic information hub - your family command center!
The following questions should help you decide which areas need the most structure.
a. What paper clutter irritates you the most when you enter a room?
Newspapers, magazines, flyers, mail, bills, receipts on various counter tops? Create a containment system for your incoming mail - such as a file folder for all of the things that come in the door. You could also use a simple basket or, a wall hanging system for a mail sorter.
This is the place that you drop your school papers, bills that need to be paid, all of that paper clutter that needs a designated home.
b. What information does your family need available?
Examples: cell phone numbers, phone numbers for doctors and dentists, emergency numbers for fire, police, hospital and poison control, health insurance info, shot records, parent work schedules, bus schedule, kid’s extra curricular activities, list of chores, etc. and anything else you need to refer to frequently. A weekly meal plan is a great addition and will help you make up your grocery list
c. Do you, your children, and your partner know what’s happening every week?
Set up a large centralized monthly calendar (paper or a dry erase) to plan chores and schedules, in your command center where you can note all the things that the family has going on. If you’re handy, check Pinterest for lots of DIY suggestions for creating family calendars.
Cupboard Command Center
3. YOUR BEST LOCATION
Where do you need it?
Where do you have space to set up a command center?
If you want your command center to be really effective, pick a high traffic spot near where you enter or exit your house. An ideal location is often the kitchen, as it's the hub of the house. You could also create a space in your office if it's on the main floor of your home. However, if you use your computer for scheduling or contacts, you might locate the center near the computer. You can use a wall, cupboard, closet, shelf or desk to create your center. Primarily, you want it to be a functional space where everyone can see it regularly!
Closet Command Center
4. YOUR ORGANIZING STYLE
What is your organizing style?
Do you hide things because you hate visual clutter?
Are you a piler or a filer?
Do you need to see things because, “if they are out of sight, they are out of mind.”?
If you like things hidden you might like your command center in a cupboard. Attach a corkboard to the inside of the cupboard door so that it's out of sight but accessible. Or use a desk where you have a drawer(s) for supplies or try a stylish accordion file folder on your kitchen counter.
If you like to pile instead of file use a labeled box or basket.
If you are visual your magnetic chalkboard or corkboard could be on a wall. Pin up your calendar, notes for one another, invitations, children's artwork and inspiring quotes. Try hanging wall files for paperwork.
Small Desk Command Center
Now more than ever information organization has to become more efficient so that you can keep track of everything (and everyone!).
Figure out what is driving you crazy in your house and start building a system to deal with it. It will take some time to plan your command center for your family! Fine tune it until it works for you and your family.
Create a system that suits your organizing style and fits into your space. There is no point spending a lot of money because it looks pretty but which does not suit how you like to organize. Use what you have on hand. (a nice big calendar, baskets, files, clipboard) before you spend money on organizing systems. Try it for a while and tweak the command center until it suits you and your family. It is more important than ever to establish and maintain routines and schedules to feel more in control of our lives. Your customized home command center will save your sanity and keep your family life running more smoothly.
Cathy is an active member of Professional Organizers in Canada where she received her training. Her transition to professional organizer follows a career as an inner-city high school teacher working with people ranging in ages from 12 to 70 speaking over 60 first languages. If you'd like to talk about helping to set up your home command center, we'd love to chat. firstname.lastname@example.org