Is your desk or counter constantly covered in paper piles?
Do your keys always seem to go missing when it’s time to leave?
Or maybe getting out the door in the morning feels like an impossible task.
A family command center can put an end to all that.
Whether you’re wondering what is a family command center, or thinking you’ve already tried to make a command center in your home, and it didn’t work, I can help.
How to Set Up a Family Command Center
Frankly, I’d never even heard of a command center until we walked through the model of our current home. So, first let’s answer the question what is a family command center?
A family or home command center is a central hub for organizing your family and running your household. It allows you to keep track of schedules, calendars, bills, incoming papers, household supplies, files, and anything else you need to keep your family organized.
The first step in creating a family command center is to consider what your household needs and the space you have.
- How would you like the space to function?
- What do you want to gain, or what problems are you trying to solve by creating a family command center?
Keep those answers at the forefront of your mind to help you define, plan and create a functional space or your family.
Where to Set Up Your Command Center
Once we moved into our home, I was eager to take advantage of our built-in command center. However, if there’s not a built-in desk area in your home, here a few other command center ideas.
- Kitchen Command Center – you can create a kitchen command center on the side of your refrigerator. Newer homes are being built with a pocket office off the kitchen. This is a great option for a home command center.
- Closet Command Center– turn an empty or underutilized closet into a command center. I love this option because you can close the door to hide any messes. If you don’t have a spare closet, try repurposing an armoire or even a bookcase.
- Pantry or Cabinet Door Command Center – Use the inside of doors to hang a calendar, memos and important papers. You can even attach a file organizer to the back of a door as long as there’s enough room to close the door.
- Entryway Command Center – use the wall space to hang hooks for keys and coats and add basket to collect mail.
- Wall Command Center– Use available wall space to hang a wall organizer, memo board and calendar.
- Corner Command Center – turn any unused nook, such as under a stairwell, or empty corner into a family command center.
As you consider which area of your home to use, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is there an area that everyone regularly passes through?
- What area of my home does my family naturally use for setting down keys, mail, incoming papers, jackets, bags, etc.?
- Are my family members using the current family command center? Why or why not?
- What are my family’s needs? For example, do you need desk space for a computer or printer. Will you need wall space to hang a family calendar? What type of storage space would best serve you?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you narrow down your options for where to set up a family command center, guide you in the command center layout, and determine what supplies you need.
Family Command Center Must-Haves
Since every household is different, no two command centers will look alike. Even so, there are a handful of organizers and supplies that come in handy in most situations.
Calendar – the calendar you use will depend on where your family command center is located and whether you prefer a physical or digital calendar.
- If you’re command center is in the kitchen, try a magnetic calendar to display on the refrigerator.
- For wall calendars, you could hang an inexpensive paper calendar, a dry erase calendar, or a chalkboard calendar.
- Desk calendars are an option for desks and countertops.
Mail Sorter – Mail sorters come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on your space, you can go for a wall hanging sorter or one that sits on your desk.
Filing system – An easy filing system helps you organize important papers and makes them easy to find.
A paper shredder – Use a paper shredder to safely discard expired credit cards or documents with personal information.
Hooks – Add hooks for personal belongings such as purses, keys and bags.
Basket – Baskets are perfect to use as an out box for store returns, library books, mail, etc.
Bill organizer – Use a bill organizing system for whatever paper bills you may have. Otherwise, try going paperless and setting up auto payments with as many bills as possible.
Personal Items – Adding personal items such as family photos, momentos or your favorite flowers not only brings style to the space, but gives a little joy, too. You can add personality by incorporating your favorite colors, photos, some of your favorite things, and treating yourself to some pretty desk accessories.
Planning the Layout
For our purposes, a layout is another word for space planning. This simply means looking at your space and determining the best way to use it. You’ll want to take into account how much wall space, surface area, and storage space you have available and the best way to organize your command center within it.
- Walls are great for hanging calendars, hooks, memo boards, clocks, wall hanging file organizers.
- You can use desktops or counter surfaces as docking stations for printers, charging stations, computers, desk calendars and other desk supplies and organizers.
- Cabinets and drawers are perfect for storing school supplies, office supplies, files, household items like light bulbs and extension cords.
As you plan and organize your home command center:
- Allow plenty of time for your project. Consider how much time you think you will need for your project, 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. Save money by shopping your home for containers.
- 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’ve 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.
- Remember that empty shelves give your eyes (and mind) a place to rest and leaves room to grow.
- Know that necessity really is the mother of invention. You’ll be surprised by how creative and resourceful you can be when you need to be.
How to Keep Your Family Command Center Organized
If your command center starts to get cluttered or some of the systems aren’t quite working, be encouraged. More than likely, there’s a fix for the problem.
I’ve emptied my home command center with hopes of fixing what wasn’t working at least a handful of times at this point. Chances are, this will be the case in your household. (That’s how sustainable household organization systems are built.)
The solution is in identifying the problem and asking yourself why. It’s relatively easy to identify the problem, but without taking the time to discover why there’s a problem, you’ll end up right back where you started.
In order to find the why, study your habits, pay attention to how your family uses the space, including what is working, what’s not, and of course, why. This step may take some time, but it’s the key to creating a successful organization system.
After some trial and error, I’ve identified several common problems that can crop up as you use your home command center.
5 Command Center Organizing Mistakes to Avoid
Failed Communication – Your family has trouble keeping up with each other’s schedules and routines resulting in scheduling conflicts, unavailability, missed appointments, and not knowing each other’s whereabouts.
Be sure to choose the best scheduling system for your household. I tried using a digital system, but at the time, our family just wasn’t tech enough. I started using a physical calendar which worked much better. Your family may prefer a large wall calendar in a prominent space or a magnetic calendar on the fridge where everyone can see it, or maybe a digital family calendar like Cozi would work best.
Trial and error is your friend. It all comes down to your stage of life and what works for your family as a whole.
Paper Piles – Papers continue to pile up and take over your desk.
Paper clutter usually happens when a filing system doesn’t suit your lifestyle or organizing personality. In my case, the “TO FILE” folder was in a tight space making it difficult to access, and our filing system was:
- outdated and
- visually boring
During the reevaluation process, I realized clutter is a huge deterrent for me. I also learned someone with ADHD (that’s me) needs stimulation when it comes to performing mundane tasks. The fix was simply to update our filing system with a visually appealing, color-coded system and to create a filing schedule I could stick to.
Consider your current filing system and compare it to how you think, how much time you have to file, and whether or not there’s a place for every type of paper that enters your home.
The solution might be a portable filing system that stays on your desk, a color-coded filing system, scheduling filing days and sticking to them, or some combination of these.
Overdue Bills – Bills keep getting overlooked and end up not being paid on time.
If that’s the case, try scheduling as many bills as possible for autopay. If autopay isn’t an option, set up email or text reminders and write the due date on your calendar. Then schedule a reminder to pay the bill before the due date.
Missed Deadlines, Dates & Appointments – Event tickets, appointment reminders, invitations and other important papers get lost in the shuffle resulting in forgotten plans, missed deadlines or skipped appointments.
While this problem is similar to paper piles, I want to mention it separately because it’s these types of incoming papers we typically don’t know what to do with.
I suggest adding events and appointments to your calendar, including special notes like addresses, early arrival times, any prior paperwork that needs to be filled out, or where someone is registered. Then toss the invitation or reminder.
You might prefer keeping tickets or purchase receipts in a mail sorter or pinning them to a memo board until you need them.
Things Aren’t Being Put Back Where They Belong – Everyone’s shoes sit next to the shoe shelf instead of on it. Backpacks and coats land on the floor instead of on hooks, or home office supplies keep disappearing.
When this happens, it’s important to remember there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to organizing. There are potentially as many organizing systems as there are people in your household. My answer to that is ‘when you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’
If setting shoes on a shoe rack is a struggle for any of your family members, set a basket in the spot where they naturally drop their shoes. Try the same thing for wallets and keys. Or if your kids are more prone to drop backpacks on the floor instead of hanging them on wall hooks, use a bench, stool or chair to set backpacks on.
The more you notice everyone’s natural tendencies, the more you’ll be able to customize your household organization systems. It takes time, but it’s worth it. And before you know, you’ll start to notice less clutter and more belongings in their place.
3 Benefits of a Command Center
The benefits of having a family command center far outweigh any challenges that might pop up. An effective command center provides structure and a sense of stability in your home. It also results in:
- manageable mornings that don’t feel hectic or rushed
- more margin time in your day
- improved communication
- easier evenings as everyone comes home and settles into their routines
- peace of mind with your household running more smoothly
Ultimately, your command center will allow you to live more simply and intentionally. And your household will be happier for it.
For more home organization tips, read:
- How to Organize Toys and Keep Kid Clutter Away
- Practical Ways to Organize Your Closet Like a Pro
- How to Declutter Your Home and Life
Be sure to sign up to get step-by-step help, including resource pages with shopping lists and video tours of my home command center, filing system, and drop zone/mudroom. (Be sure to choose the Back-to-School edition for a discounted price.)
Wishing you peaceful days ahead.