Monday, September 10, 2018

Take Command of Your School Year

It’s hard to believe that “back to school” is in full effect!  Although, the stores are practically pushing their Christmas wares already, so maybe not so hard to believe at all.  Either way, this time of year makes perfect sense to talk about setting up or taking back charge of your home command center.

There are any number of pinterest boards and blog posts with drop-dead, gorgeously-zen spaces, but they all have the same basic essentials:

1.     A Central Location—like the realtors say, “location, location, location!” It’s key.  It should be in a high traffic area where the whole family passes through multiple times a day.  If you are lucky enough to have a mudroom, or a nook, or a whatever—that’s fabulous.  If you don’t, have no fear.  Functional always trumps aesthetic.  If it needs to be smack in the middle of the kitchen then there’s always a way to make it work.
2.     A File System—color-coding optional.  Individual vs whole family?—your choice.  You do need a system for “urgent” things, like the school physical, versus “reference” things, like the PTA calendar.  Also, “incoming” versus “outgoing,” like the test that needs to be returned to the teacher.  However, there is no right or wrong as long as it works for you.   Do try to eliminate paper when you can by putting electronic reminders in your phone or putting all necessary information about an event directly into your e-calendar.    
3.     A Calendar—paper or electronic? Still your choice, but essential either way.   
4.     A Board—bulletin?, magnetic?, dryerase?, peg?, combo?—all your choice.   Color-coding is an option here as well, to save time and space.  You don’t have to write a name to every task—just assign a marker/post-it/pin color to each family member and they should know at a quick glance what their tasks are. 
5.     Bins—“shred”/”recycle”/”archive”—like for the artwork you know you’ll keep or the tax documents you know you’ll need later in the year, but don’t have time to file everyday.

What is less talked about is the fact that you actually have to use and groom your command center.  Everyone in the household needs to learn its intended use and how to make it function.  When a bin is full, it needs to be emptied.  That means that “things that need to be filed” actually need to get filed every so often—whether it’s weekly, monthly or quarterly is up to you.  And things that are out for “reference” need to get thrown away when they become irrelevant. 

For every home command center I’ve helped to re-organize, I always find the original, well-intentioned organization beneath all the rubble.  Sometimes the system doesn’t work and you have to keep using trial and error.  Most of the time, the system is fine; you just have to actually use it and keep up with it.  So, my school-year resolution for you is to take charge and stay disciplined.  Happy commanding!

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