Creating a command center in the home: why it is important

I have a passion for organizing offices.  Sure, I get excited to organize chaos in any area of a house and yes, I’ve been called crazy because of it. But organizing offices really blows my skirt up!

It’s one of my favorite things to do.

It’s no wonder I have a love of order and organizing spaces that provide a basis for efficient operations. Prior to starting my career as a professional organizer over 17 years ago, I worked in academic administration —  organizing the operations of an undergraduate college just outside of Boston.  I loved the challenge of that work.  There were so many opportunities for me to create order and systems and continually work towards more efficient ways to produce.  And that efficiency made a lot of people happy.  Me included!

My office was my base, my command center and it felt good to be in it.

It was organized.
It had great systems in place.
I could find what I needed, when I needed it.
It felt “lite” because everything had a home — {no clutter in that space!}.

While I am sure the term “office” makes people think of a place outside the home where you go to work and spend most of your waking hours in order to bring home a paycheck, the truth is, you need a similar “center” in your home.

Everyone must have a place in their home from which to manage their life, whether a conventional office or simply a desk.

The place you call office should be efficient, comfortable, organized, lite. It might be used to not only manage your life but to run your own business or do work from home. And while there are ideal places an office can be, the truth is that an office can be almost anywhere in your house.

Check out this sharp looking office in a kitchen that I’ve pinned on Pinterest

Command center in the home

For many, this clearly defined and well organized space is missing from their home and the result is chaos — not only with finances, kids schedules, the mail and even relationships, but with other areas of the house.  Chaos is contagious. It trickles into other spaces, and it finds its way into your mind .

Having a central, organized, efficient spot is the best way to combat the chaos and infuse some lightness in your space and life.

Here is what you need to create your command center:

1.Determine a space in your home that allows you to store and access key materials for the running of the home.

This space can be a desk, a specific area of the kitchen, an isolated shelf in the den. Don’t get caught up with it needing to be a 10×10 room, with 2 windows and a french door entryway.  Once you’ve determined the space, call it your office.  And let the family know it is as such. It is the place for you to stay on top of the consistently moving parts of managing a home and a life.

2.Create a correspondence area in your office.

This is all about having at your fingertips the tools needed to correspond with others, whether in the home or outside the home.  The correspondence area allows you to easily pay bills, mail letters, temporarily store an invite or a child’s permission slip.  Keep bills (that aren’t paid on line) on a shelf, or the corner of the designated flat surface of your office. Use a graduated incline sorter (like this one from Staples) to keep them, and similar to-dos, in your periphery.

For the most part, the sorter I use stays empty because I pay everything on line. But on occasion I get a random paper bill and it needs a home.  I designate the extra slots for any correspondences that needs to be mailed or given out — a birthday card, a thank you note, a permission slip.

3. Contain your tools.

The tools needed to do all the corresponding all need a home as well. Contain and store tools like your checkbook, calculator, postage stamps, envelopes, return address stamper on a shelf in a basket or bin, a clear shoe box container, or in a desk drawer.  Whatever works for you. All that matters is that you have the correct tools at the ready.  Have one designated spot to store these “like” items so you can find them easily, and save valuable time. This is what the drawer that houses my correspondence tools looks like.  It is in a top drawer, on the right side of my desk. Whether I have to stamp an envelope, or write a random check, my tools are contained, and easily accessible. And that makes for lighter work.

Command Center in the home

4. Make a promise for how you will handle the mail.

When it comes to the mail, I tell clients this consistently: don’t get the mail unless you are ready to address it. Then practice sort and discard. Discard what is junk or to be recycled and then make a decision on the rest.  Does it need to be filed or paid; does an email need to be sent in response? Put items in the space where you will handle them. File only necessary papers. Put the mail in your correspondence center. Use your list to note the email task, writing down all pertinent info. Then temporarily store the corresponding paper using this tool. Once you have labeled a manila folder specifically and contained those papers, you can now store them vertically. Hence making easy work of finding them again.

You have to make a promise to yourself that you will handle the mail appropriately every time you get it. Don’t let it sit in your “office” or on any flat surface for too long.  It’s a recipe for clutter. And for making a mess of your organized command center.

Having a command center means you’ve created the ultimate home for the administrative items that are often randomly stored.  Having this home is an integral part of running your home efficiently.

And staying on top of the many moving and ever-changing parts of this thing called life.

Where is the command center in your home?  Does it meet the standards of organization to run your busy life?

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