September 24, 2013 by

Have you ever left home only to realize you’ve forgotten your phone, the mail you were supposed to send, or paperwork for your car registration? What you need is a “family command center,” an organized space that everyone in your home can use to keep track of important dates, information, documents, and other necessary items.

But how do you know what to put there, where to establish this center, and how to organize it? Here are some tips:

WHERE

Find a place that everyone passes through. This could be a corner spot in the kitchen, a centrally located home office, or a wall in the entryway or hallway where an armoire, bookcase, or shelves can be placed. Many newer homes have a designated “drop” zone (If that describes your home, count your blessings!).

WHAT

Determine what belongs in this space—a bulletin or magnetic board to post schedules, invitations, permission slips; a chalk or dry erase board to write lists, such as menus, groceries, to-dos, and appointments; and items such as mail, bills, stamps, envelopes, school papers, calendars, phones and phone chargers, and keys. In addition, determine what doesn’t belong in this space. Magazines and newspapers, for example, would be better on a coffee table in the living room.

HOW

Set up a system to maintain this area. One idea is to use a portable and open file box to store loose or piled papers. Files could be organized by different categories (invitations, bills, etc.) or by family members’ items. Label them in a way that makes the most sense to you. You may even decide to color code them. Some families would rather keep their papers in a binder or boxes. (For me, these work better for storing documents or ideas not regularly used). However, there’s no right or wrong way—just do what works for you. Personally, I have a file for each of my boys’ school information and separate ones for each of their extras (sports, piano lessons, appointments, church, etc.). When the school year is over, I transfer any of the items we choose to keep long-term into a keepsake bin.

It’s critical to keep files current and throw away items no longer needed. Another tip? Write phone numbers or addresses inside file folders so information is handy in a moment’s notice. (It’s especially helpful in the “home repair” file, in case you have a water leak and need to get ahold of the plumber sooner rather than later.)

WHEN

There’s no time like the present! Set up your command center today. Then, make a plan of action as to when you will sort and file (daily, weekly, etc.) and stick to it.

WHY

Sanity. Less stress. More time for meaningful and desired activities, like relaxing with a cup of coffee and good magazine. (HerFamily anyone?)

For help with home organization, contact Sheila Taylor at freshlyorganized.com or call 402-670-3271.

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