How to deal with your paper clutter and setup a family command center that functions efficiently to keep your home organized.
Setting up a family command center in our home has always been a big priority for me. In our lake house, I shared how I turned a small front coat closet (that we never used) into a family command center that was conveniently located right off the kitchen. In the forest house, once we had renovated our kitchen, I shared how I turned a small kitchen cabinet area into a family command center.
Location is definitely a key aspect of setting up a family command center that is efficient and truly functions well to keep your busy life organized. In our new build house, we decided that the best place for a family command center was in our laundry room as it is the first place we enter everyday as we come in through the garage. It is also right on our way to the kitchen, which is the hub of our home. And, although I have a home office, we only use it for filing those documents that are important to keep. I didn’t want to mix all of our other family mail, homework, school notices etc. up with my home workspace so locating the command center in our laundry/mudroom was the best choice.
STEP ONE: Deal with your Paper Clutter!
Dealing with paperwork is the first step in this week’s challenge (see here to learn all about my ten week organizing challenge).
I had some paper clutter to deal with, but for the most part we have kept on top of it since developing a system for it – and the command center is a key aspect of creating that system.
I took everything out and went through it all…
I wrote this awesome article on how to purge and organize your paper clutter – so if you haven’t done so yet, then this article is where you should start your organizing journey:
Top Questions Answered about a Family Command Center:
What is a command center in a house, you ask?
Well, it’s basically a designated spot in your home where you can keep all the important information, family planner calendars, and small items that your family needs to function. Think: homework papers, school notices, to-do lists, schedules, planners, keys, coupons, gift certificates etc.
Where should you put a family command center in your house?
You definitely want to locate it somewhere central and easy to access. It should be in the main traffic path of your house, like our current one is located in the laundry/mudroom, so just off our garage an on the way to our kitchen. In our forest house we located our command center within an upper kitchen cabinet that was outside of the main food prep area. And in our lake house we used an under-utilized coat closet just off the kitchen, which was on the path from the back and front doors to the kitchen and living areas.
STEP TWO: Setup a Family Command Center
What should you put in a family command center?
- A family planner calendar (see my free printable one for 2022 in this article)
- A weekly schedule or planner (see my free printable weekly planner in this article)
- A memo board, magnetic board, or dry erase board for notes, reminders, or notices
- A place to put mail before it’s deal with and/or filed
- A spot to keep things that you need to hold on to for a specified period of time
- A place to put school notices, homework, or permission slips
- Hooks for keys
- A place for wallets and sunglasses
- A cup for pens, pencils, or markers
- A hanging file for things like gift certificates, coupons etc.
- A clock(optional)
- Charging station for family phones and tech devices
You can also read this article I wrote here about the essential elements of a family command center.
How to setup a family command center:
- Choose your location. Make sure it is central and easy to access.
- Make a list of all the things you want to keep organized in your command center. See the list above – it is not exhaustive but a good starting point. There may be other elements you wish to include based on your family’s needs.
- Design how you want the space to look and what kinds of furniture and organizing pieces (like wall organizers) that you might need.
- Repurpose furniture or pieces you already own, or shop for the items that will work best.
- Put things in place – labeling as needed!
For the Family Command Center that I setup in this house, I used a small console/desk that we had originally purchased for our son’s forest house bedroom (where he only had a very tiny space for a desk). We placed it on a small, blank piece of wall directly beside the door to our garage and beside the bench/hooks area of our mudroom/laundry room.
Above the small desk. we installed a pegboard organizer system that I purchased at Costco. I’ve linked some similar style ones below for your convenience.
If you can’t find this at your local Costco, I sourced a similar one from Amazon:
The command center elements that I included on this pegboard are:
We have a charging station on top of the desk, as well as a small organizer for incoming homework papers, school notices etc. In one of the desk drawers we store our sunglasses, the other is a perfect spot for wallets.
On one side of the peg board organizer we have a memo board to pin up reminders and to-do lists etc. as well as our weekly planner…
There is also and a open hanging bin for coupons, gift cards etc. and several clips that can be used to hang up papers or photographs.
On the other side of the peg board organizer, there is a printable weekly planner calendar, as well as a printable 2022 monthly calendar that I keep on a clipboard (I have offered both of these as free printables on my blog and I’ve linked them below). There is a hanging folder for incoming mail, a cup to hold pens and scissors. We also have several hooks we can use to hang up a variety of keys.
I’m thrilled with how organized this system is, and it’s already working for our family so much better then before we put it into place!
STEP THREE: How to Organize a Junk Drawer
In addition to tackling the paper clutter and setting up the family command center this week, I also decided to centralize all of our family office supplies and create a ‘not so junky’ junk drawer!
You may have noticed all of the pens and office supplies on my counter when I started the process of organizing this week?
All of that stuff was tucked in our foyer console cabinet, but it really wasn’t a practical place. It was hard to find what we needed and you had to crouch down to search through the console to look for things. So I decided to do away with the aqua organizing units and moved those to my home office instead (they were basically empty except for a few of my work related files and receipts). All of the office supplies were purged, sorted, and organized into the top drawer in our laundry room cabinets. It was sitting empty before!!
I used some 2.5″ deep organizing trays that I picked up at Walmart (we owned one already but I got two more). I sorted all of the items into categories and then placed them by category into the separate sections.
An organized junk drawer – with all of our family office type supplies easy to find at a moment’s notice. And I love how it is all centralized now – this drawer sits only a few feet away from the family command center.
Step Four: Organizing Cords and Technology
One last thing that I decided to localize in this area of our home, is all of our chords and technology related paraphernalia. We had it sorted (very loosely) into grey baskets that I stored previously in our dining room hutch. Again, this didn’t necessarily make a lot of sense but when we moved in things just got put away without a ton of organized thought. I took it ALL out and put it on the island with the rest of our office/paper/command center related stuff…
We sorted all of that technology into categories, placed like items together into large ziplock bags, which I labeled with sharpie, and then put the bags into the baskets by theme. One basket has memory related devices, one has chords, one is full of batteries, and one has cleaning supplies and additional tech devices. These baskets are now housed in the second drawer in our laundry room (which previously held our tablecloths and napkins – much better suited to the dining room hutch then the technology was!).
Now that the like items are in labeled bags, it is MUCH easier to quickly and easily find the chord, zip drive, or technology device that we are looking for.
In conclusion, this week I sorted through and organized the bit of paper clutter that we had built up. I filed what I needed to and then created a family command center system in order to manage incoming paperwork, mail, notices etc. I also centralized the storage of all of our family office supplies, junk drawer stuff, and chords and technology related paraphernalia only a few feet away in the laundry room drawers.
Everything has a place, is in it’s place, and the place that it belongs makes sense.
Yay for finishing Week One!
Are you looking for some things to help you get organized in this area? I’ve gathered some finds that might help!
Now, for Week Two, it’s onto the kitchen…
So far in this year’s updated version of the challenge, I’ve shared:
Want this in an easy to digest e-book form? You can learn more about that here!
You can see all of the posts related to my original take on this Ten Week Organizing Challenge by visiting my challenge Intro article here.
AND…the first time I tackled this challenge back in 2017, I shared these posts for Week One
Week One: Paper Clutter and Command Center
Each week over the course of this challenge, I’m going to be sharing my process of working through this challenge in our new home with updated tricks, tips, and organizing systems.
If you want to follow along with free weekly updates for this year’s updated version of the challenge, sign-up below for my new email list: