Do you know how many times I’ve emptied the command center with hopes of fixing what wasn’t working?
At least a handful, probably more.
There was the time that I didn’t want a clunky old desktop computer and printer taking up all of the desk space, but the printer never found a home.
And the time that I tried to recreate the command center from a Southern Living idea house, but that was strictly decorative.
Then I decided that the command center should do double duty as a sewing room, so I designated one side of the desk and cabinetry for “command center” stuff and the other side for “craft and sewing” supplies, yet I rarely sew.
Add one more time to that because I had some tweaking to do after living with this system for nearly a year.
The big mistake I made all those times before was this: I knew what the problem was, but I didn’t take the time to discover why there was a problem, and not only that, but my solutions were hastily implemented.
But this time, I made it a point to study our habits, pay attention to how we used the command center, as well as to what worked, what didn’t and why. Identifying the problem areas is the easy part. The real work comes when we search to discover why these problems exist.
In order to successfully solve these problems, we need to become a student of our own behaviors as well as our family member’s and consider them in light of the system we have in place. This step may take some time, but it is the key to creating a successful organization system.
Although it took me awhile to finish this project, and even though the printer is back and the space is more practical than pretty and I gave up my sewing area, I’m so pleased with the results.
Happy Update: I finally got the printer off the desk! See my DIY solution HERE.
Command Center Organization
There was nothing wrong with the systems I used in the past. They just weren’t the right ones for me. As I’ve said before, the only organizers that work are the ones you use. Once I identified why they weren’t working, I was able to address the problem areas in our command center organization.
Problem #1: We weren’t always up to date on each other’s comings and goings or our family plans.
The Why: We didn’t have a family calendar. I tried to keep an electronic calendar with intentions of syncing it to our cell phones, but that just wasn’t practical for my non-tech family
The Solution: Put a calendar in a prominent place.
And it’s working! My family intuitively started using the calendar from the moment it was hung.
Problem #2: Filing was neglected
The Why: The “TO FILE” folder was in a tight space and was difficult to access, and our filing system was 1. cluttered 2. outdated and 3. visually boring. During this process, I realized that clutter is a huge deterrent for me, and so are tight spaces, and I learned that the ADHD minds need stimulation when it comes to performing mundane tasks.
The Solution: I allowed more space for the “to file” folder so that it has plenty of room to expand as papers are added,
updated our filing system with a visually appealing, color-coded system and created a reasonable filing schedule.
Problem #3: Bills were getting overlooked and not being paid on time.
The Why: The “BILLS” folder was never sorted through or updated. Out of sight, out of mind.
The Solution: I learned that if papers are out of my sight, I will forget about them. So, my solution is to keep bills in a budget binder that gets frequent use as well as stores monthly calendars notated with due dates and method of payment.
I already feel more on top of our finances.
Problem #4: Invitations got lost in the shuffle.
The Why: The “RESPOND” folder was also “out of sight, out of mind.” Not only that, but once the papers started piling up, I gave up on my mail sorting system altogether.
The Solution: Create an easier-to-use system for paperwork that requires action.
Now when paperwork needs attention, I pin it to the corkboard side of my chalkboard easel. Then, write a reminder note on the chalkboard side.
The clutter is out of sight, but the task is still visible. I really feel like I’ve set myself up for success with this new system.
Problem #5: The memo board was full of visual clutter that hung in too prominent of a spot for my liking.
The Why: The board itself was actually functioning the way I had intended. However, when lots of memos are pinned to the board it looks cluttered and messy.
The Solution: Move or do away with the memoboard in favor of a system that looks tidy.
This mail sorter was the perfect solution! All incoming papers like tickets, invitations and receipts along with a few other office supplies have a home. And they look so much neater in a sorter than pinned all over a memo board.
Problem #6: My family had trouble finding things, and I had trouble remembering where I put them.
The Why: Everything that would logically be in a command center was stored in various places around the house.
The Solution: Centralize storage of all home management related items.
I finally finished putting together the binder system that I started a year or so ago. Both the binders and magazine holders house items that we frequently use such as my goal planner, daily planner and the bills binder.
The next shelf holds printer paper on one side and notebook and graph paper on the other, also within easy reach. The top two shelves hold batteries, light bulbs, extension cords and chargers.
Tip: Put frequently used items within reach and place seldom used items up high.
The cabinets to the right store school supplies, cards, gift wrap necessities and my Chalk Paint® stash.
Once the new systems were in place and the cabinets reorganized, it was time to add some personality to the command center.
Adding personal items not only brings style to the space, but gives a little joy while you’re working, too. You can add personality by incorporating your favorite colors, photos, some of your favorite things and treating yourself to some pretty desk accessories.
I adore these owl push pins I found at Target last Fall. (Target still carries them as well as the chalkboard easel .)
I am so proud of not only the results, but the thought, time and intention that went into organizing our command center. I learned some valuable lessons in the process, and I took notes.
- Allow plenty of time for your project. Consider how much time you think you will need, then double it.
- Give yourself thinking time. Thinking is still progress and maintains momentum.
- Wait to buy storage containers until you’ve determined what you need and measured your space. Even then, look through your home first for containers that can be switched out and items that can be repurposed.
- When you get down to the last few loose items, gather them together along with the rest of the organizers you have left, and start putting together the puzzle pieces so to speak, even if that means rearranging some of the items you had already organized.
- Avoid putting a “to-do” on your shelf, or under the desk or in a temporary container or somewhere ’til you can get to it. The likelihood of ever finishing that task is very low.
- Empty shelves give your eyes (and mind) a place to rest and leaves room to grow.
- Necessity really is the mother of invention. You’ll be surprised by how creative and resourceful you can be when you need to be.
3 Benefits of a Command Center
Completing this project provided a HUGE sense of relief, but the relief and the sense of peace that comes from order is just a bonus. An effective command center provides structure and a sense of stability in your home.
My home felt so off while our command center was disorganized and dysfunctional. It also reduces stress over lost belongings, missed deadlines or late bills. And a command center can help facilitate communication.
I’m sure there are many more benefits that I will come to realize and appreciate in time.
Where to Set Up Your Command Center
I’m fortunate to have a floor plan that includes a separate area off of the kitchen for the command center. However, if you don’t have a built-in command center you can create one on the side of your refrigerator or section off some wall space. You could place a small desk under the stairwell, or convert an armoire or bookcase into a command center. The only real requirement is that your command center is located in an area that everyone in your household routinely passes through or uses.
Command Center Resources
Let’s talk about what should go in a command center. The systems you implement will depend on your household’s needs. Even so, there are a handful of organizers and tools that I believe are necessities in any command center. They are listed below with source links (where possible) to products and affiliates I trust.
- A mail sorter or memo board for incoming paper items such as tickets, invitations, receipts, etc.
- Filing system
- A shredder. I haven’t found one to recommend. Ours is very basic and too light duty, so I need to do some research. Do you have a recommendation?
- Hooks for personal belongings such as purses, keys and bags.
- An out box for returns, library books, mail, etc.
- Personal or decorative items such flowers and photos. This gives you a chance to express your style which goes a long way in setting the mood of your command center
- Chaos to Calm – A course to help you set up your command center.