Simple Family Organization:
A Kitchen Command Center That Works
Command Center for Organizing Mail, School Papers, & Junk
Solves the problem of… losing important mail/papers AND having mail, papers, and other junk flood my kitchen counters.
How the Command Center Works
My Command Center may not look as pretty as the fancy ones you’ll find on Pinterest, but it is unique in three ways:
- It requires almost no maintenance. About the only thing I need to do is empty the recycling bucket, pictured on the left. (Which I didn’t bother to do before taking this picture.)
- It fits in a walkway. My Command Center, pictured above, is in a major walkway, between our kitchen and the rest of the house.
- It has a place for all of the junk that accumulates on the counter. The black and white canvas bins (pictured to the right, under the light switch) are each labeled with a major room in the house. If something lands on my counter that doesn’t belong in the kitchen, I dump it in a canvas bin. If the canvas bin begins to overflow, I start throwing things out. (See item #1, above.)
The upper bins (mounted on the wall) are for sorting things that require action.
The lower bins (in the shelving unit) are mostly for storage: children’s important papers (one bin per child), receipts, papers that need to be filed (which is technically an “action item” vs “storage”, but it is not a time-sensitive action item), phone books (yes, phone books… I’ve been caught without internet service and in need of local services), and other odds-n-ends. A few bins are even empty!
The clipboards are for:
- Upcoming events. (Upper, left) Invitations, directions, and details for future events are kept here.
- Sunday Meeting. (Lower, left) Things we need to discuss at our next Sunday Meeting are kept here.
- Miscellaneous. (Upper, right) This clipboard was originally where we kept record of weekly “points” for our allowance system. We ditched that system and now have a place for the pretty recipe I’ve been wanting to try.
- Grocery list. (Lower, right) This is where I keep several copies of my pre-made grocery list (see my Menu Board) for easy access.
How to Create a Command Center
Every house is different, so your Command Center will be different from mine. Mostly, you need it to serve two functions: manage “action” items and organize “storage” items.
To get started:
- Consider everything you need your Command Center to accomplish. Sort everything that has been accumulating on the flat surfaces in and near your kitchen into “like” piles: bills to pay, mail to sort, school papers for child 1, school papers for child 2, receipts, etc.
- Label each pile with a sticky note.
- Group those piles into two main categories: “requires action” and “storage.”
- Determine how many clipboards and bins you will need for each category, “action” and “storage.”
- Determine how you could arrange folders and/or bins. Aim to keep “action” items visible (such as my upper bins and clipboards). Storage containers should be just as accessible, but can be less visible (such as my lower bins.)
- Draw a simple blueprint of your space. Use small post-it notes to move labels around until everything fits comfortably.
- Purchase your supplies. See below for a list of my supplies in the above picture.
- Assemble your organizer!
The following is a list of items pictured above:
- Decorative storage cabinet
- Clipboards. (Quantity determined in Step 4, above.)
- 3-M hooks. (One hook/clipboard)
- Wall-storage bins.
- Wall-mounted stationary holder.
- Flexible Household Organizer. (The black organizer with the white, canvas bins.)
Simple Family Organization: Three Rules for Success
This is just one post in my series “Simple Family Organization.” Find a full directory of additional posts, here. I’ve been creating systems for students and businesses for more than 20 years. In that time, I’ve found three “rules” that make systems successful for all ages:
Three Rules for Success
1. They must be easily accessible. Everything must be within easy reach for every member of the family. Also, whenever possible, supplies should be accessible with just ONE HAND. If you need two hands to move or manipulate something, the rate of compliance drops significantly.
2. They must require little maintenance. I have found lots of beautiful systems on Pinterest. But, I always ask, “What’s required if I need to change something down the road?” (Such as add a new meal, or a new ‘task’?) If making adjustments in the future will require more than a few steps, I’ll never get around to doing it. So, I keep it simple from the start.
3. They must be “80% Successful or better.” Not one of my “Simple Family Organization Systems” has been used accurately, 100% of the time. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes the kids forget. Sometimes our rhythm is thrown off for some unforeseen reason. But, overall, these systems have made a dramatic improvement in our lives at least 80% of the time.
Make it happen!
Susan Kruger, M.Ed.
Mom & Founder of StudySkills.com
Six Steps to
Conquer the Chaos
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