Do you dream of turning your family “Drop Zone” into a neatly organized and attractive family hub? Setting up a Family Command Center is the best way to tackle the piles of paper, stay on top of bills, appointments, menu planning and provides a home for things like lost keys and permission slips.
First, Find the Right Spot
A place where everyone passes through is best. It could be a kitchen nook, mudroom or hallway, as long as it provides a place for a calendar and files.
Think Short Term
A successful Family Command Center holds things only for the current month, such as unpaid bills, upcoming school activities, appointments and events. Keep things like projects, magazines and long term filing elsewhere.
Eliminate the Paper Piles
Set up file folders by family member or by category for things like monthly bills, sports, school, clubs, so you can quickly put your fingers on schedules, permission slips and important paperwork. You may want to use a color coding file system to make it easy for everyone to know what files belong to them.
Make a Date with Your Filing
Set aside either 15 minutes a week or 60 minutes each month to purge your files and move necessary paperwork to long term filing. Add it to your calendar.
Give Every Family Member a Tour
Your best laid plans and most beautifully staged area can only be successful if everyone in the family knows the system. Let your kids know where their important school papers to be signed should go. Also, communicate how events and appointments should be added to the calendar.
Keep an Eye on Paper Storms
Once your Command Center is set up and running smoothly, you will more easily discover where the paper piles are coming from. Are you getting too much junk mail? Is your budding artist bringing home a piece of artwork home every day? Is your high schooler receiving a deluge of college mail? If so, consider setting up a larger file elsewhere and make a point to sort through it at least once a month.
Let Your Space be a Place for Inspiration
Your Family Command Center is a great spot to bring a smile to you and those your love. It’s a wonderful place for a special “good luck on your test” note, a positive quote or humorous cartoon. It may even encourage your kids to leave special messages too!
Make it Work for Everyone
Whether you use your Family Command Center for to-do lists, menu planning or keeping track of appointments, it really depends on the needs of you and your family. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space; perhaps a standing file and calendar is all you need. Some families have great success using calendar sharing on their cell phones. Take notice of what is piling up and what things fall through the cracks. Do keys always go missing? If so, find a home for those items. If appointments are frequently forgotten, make it easy for everyone to write down, post or communicate their schedules.
Schedule Time for Fun
Busy schedules and family activities can create chaotic moments and is often the most challenging phase of our lives. Yet, they are most often the times we will look back on and say, “Those were the days.” The next time you’re feeling stressed out, add a mystery appointment on the calendar for free time, game night, or a family outing. That will keep them guessing and looking at the calendar more closely!