Paperwork! It seems to be one of the biggest sources of clutter for many of us. One of the best systems I’ve found to manage paperwork and office supplies and keep our home paper-clutter free is creating a simple command center. A central place to store all the important papers, information, documents and supplies your family needs and deals with regularly.
Paper clutter has a way of piling up quickly for most of us. Between mail, bills, papers we need to reference later, papers requiring action from us, etc. it all adds up quickly. And when you have school-aged kids, the amount of paper coming home multiplies dramatically. Not to mention all the stuff that often ends up floating around random places in our homes like pens, pencils, tape, scissors, etc.
Keeping everything you need to handle paperwork and administrative tasks in your home in one place is a great way to simplify your life. Instead of losing important papers, or never being able to find the stapler when you need it, a simple command center keeps everything organized, centralized and functional.
With school and extracurricular activities back in full swing, this is the perfect time to set up a simple command center. Not only will it help you stay on top of all the paperwork coming into your home. But it will also go a long way towards helping you keep your home clutter-free!
Keep it simple!
Setting up a command center doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or time-consuming. It’s easy to create a functional, simple command center using inexpensive supplies or things you already have on hand. Although there are many beautiful examples of elaborate command centers on Pinterest, I usually find the best solutions are often the simplest.
The key is getting really clear about what you need in a command center first. Then setting it up to suit your needs and preferences. Instead of trying to make your needs fit with someone else’s design.
Today I’m sharing 6 simple steps to get clear about what you need in a command center and get it set up and functioning well. Be sure to check back next week to take a tour of my own simple command center and see how I’ve put these ideas into practice!
6 steps to help you set up your own simple command center to make life easier
1. Gather everything you want to include in your command center
Think about what kinds of office supplies and paperwork you need or deal with on a regular basis. The goal is to have everything you need in an organized, functional, centralized place.
For example, here are some items you might want to include in your command center:
- Office supplies: pens, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, tape, scissors, stapler, paper clips, hole punch, notepads, envelopes, address book, stamps, note cards, etc.
- Household management supplies: your daily planner, household management binder, grocery list, chequebook, etc.
- Files for paperwork
- Extra items: gift cards, swimming passes, etc.
2. Decide where you want your command center to be (and if you want it to be visible or hidden)
First, think about where paperwork tends to pile up in your house. Is it the kitchen counters? Your office desk? Your entryway table?
Knowing where paperwork naturally tends to land in your home is important. Instead of fighting your natural habits and tendencies, why not work with them? But find ways to work with your tendencies in a clutter-free, organized and efficient way.
I suggest setting up your command center wherever your paperwork tends to pile up. Work with your habits instead of against them. Alternatively, you could set up your command center in a place that you’d like to become the spot where you deal with paperwork and household administrative tasks.
Once you’ve decided where your command center will be, next, you need to decide if you want your command center to be visible or hidden out of sight. One isn’t better than the other, it’s all personal preference.
If visual clutter stresses you out, setting up your command center inside a cupboard you can close and keep it out of sight might make sense. But if you’re the type of person where out of sight means out of mind, you might benefit from a more visible command center.
3. Thoroughly declutter each category of your command center
Now that you’ve decided what to include in your command center, and where your command center will be, the next step is decluttering!
Remember, organized clutter is still clutter! Get rid of anything you don’t need, use or have too many of. For example, if you have an excess number of pens, keep a few you love and get rid of the rest.
Thoroughly declutter each category you are including in your command center. Keep only what you use and need. The less stuff you have in your simple command center, the easier it will be to use and maintain it.
4. Assess what’s left and decide what you need to keep it organized and functional
Remember, you never want to think about buying bins, baskets or organizers if you haven’t ruthlessly decluttered first. There really is no point in keeping more than you use, need or love. It will just make it more difficult to use and maintain your home and your command center.
However, once you have thoroughly decluttered and simplified down to the essentials for your command center, take stock of what is left. Now is the time to decide what organizational tools you’ll need to make your command center functional and efficient.
But remember, getting organized doesn’t mean you need to spend hundreds of dollars. There are plenty of budget-friendly organizing options. From repurposing boxes and containers to shopping your house to find what you need.
First, decide how you want to organize the space you’ve designated for your command center. Then thoughtfully buy/make/repurpose/find any organizational tools you’ll need to make your command center simple and functional.
Remember, keeping things simple is often a better choice. Avoid getting carried away buying organizational tools by focusing on keeping things simple and functional. Start with less and keep it simple. You can always add more organizational tools if you need them later. But by starting with only the essentials you won’t waste money or add unnecessary clutter to your command center in the name of organizational tools.
5. Set up your command center
This step is all about setting up your simple command center in the space you’ve chosen. If you’re keeping your command center in a cupboard, you may need to first declutter and clear out the cupboard to make space for your command center.
And if you’re using a cupboard for your command center, don’t forget about how useful the inside of the cupboard doors can be. They make great places to hang a meal planning calendar, a wall calendar, your grocery list, etc. If you don’t have a lot of space for your command center, getting creative and taking advantage of all the space available can really go a long way!
Once you have the space cleared and ready, install your command center and any organizational tools you’ll be using. It could be hanging a filing system, arranging containers to keep things organized, etc.
This step can sometimes take a few tries before you figure out a system that works best for you. Don’t get discouraged if your first set-up needs a little tweaking or adjusting as time goes on.
Remember, your command center should work for you and make your life easier. This can sometimes take a few adjustments to find the best system for your family. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to make changes as needed.
6. Maintain your simple command center
There are two important factors that help maintain your command center and keep it simplified, functional and helpful.
The first is making sure you have an easily accessible spot for each item in your command center. If you want things to consistently be put away and easy to find, each item has to be easy to take out and put away.
If your command center is too cluttered or crowded, it will be hard to find items and return them to their homes. Then it’s more likely that paperwork and office supplies won’t be put away in your command center and cause clutter somewhere else. Along with making it difficult to find what you’re looking for when you need it.
The second factor in maintaining your command center is checking in on its functionality and decluttering it regularly. As you’re using your command center, pay attention to anything not working for you. It could be a matter of using a different organizational system. Or maybe it’s adding a different category to accommodate paperwork or supplies you haven’t accounted for. And of course, it can also be getting rid of anything you don’t really use or need.
Regularly decluttering your command center is important to maintain it. You can do this on an ongoing basis by always keeping an eye out for anything you no longer use or need as you’re using your command center. Or quickly sort through and declutter your command center at regular intervals. Maybe once or twice a month, getting rid of anything you no longer use or need.
When you keep up with regular maintenance check-ins and decluttering, it only takes a few minutes each time. But makes it easy to keep your command center streamlined and functioning well.
Creating a simple command center to simplify your life!
Creating a simple command center can really go a long way towards simplifying your life. Not only will it help you stay on top of paperwork and managing your household. But a simple command center will also help make it easier to keep your home clutter-free. Creating designated, easy to access places to keep paperwork, office supplies, etc. keeps these items from ending up as clutter around your home.
“A place for everything and everything in its place” is a great motto to live by. When everything in your home has a place, it’s easy to prevent clutter from piling up. We all have paperwork and household administrative tasks to take care of. A simple command center makes it easy to stay on top of all your household management needs. And makes it easier to maintain a clutter-free house!
Don’t forget to check out this tour of my own simple command center and see how I’ve put these steps into practice in real life!
Do you have a command center? Has it helped simplify your life? What tips or tricks would you add to create or maintain a simplified command center?
Tuesday 4th of September 2018
I have a large solid oak tall bookcase which doubles up as my command centre. I have box files for all the guarantees and service manuals, I have four box files which could be simplified and decluttered. I am on it! I have many file binders with all the info and bills etc. Also putting together a book for my children of all the duties they need to process when they inherit the house e.g. cleaning the drains regularly. Getting the gutters cleaned once a year. Service the boiler every 2yrs. where to find the info for the salt order for the water softener! because Adult children are so absorbed in their own world they don't know what needs to be maintained. It is too much information for them to process so writing it down will be their manual. I also have a file for info that my grave was paid for when I buried my husband so that they don't go and purchase another grave. They would forget. The file contains everything even the things families don't like to discuss. I just need to re-organize and tweek my command centre that works more functionally by regularly decluttering. Also bringing everything to the one place, by decluttering the bookcase and expanding the command centre. I have a solid system but using tips from Melissa that will work better.
Simple Lionheart Life
Wednesday 5th of September 2018
It sounds like you have done a lot of work Doreen. Good for you! You have done some excellent preparations that I'm sure your children will be thankful for when they need the information. Planning for the future and our estate is not something most of us enjoy, but it's so important. Thank you for sharing the work you have done. And I'm glad this post gave you some motivation and inspiration to further declutter and simplify your paperwork! That's wonderful! Thank you for reading and for sharing your insights and experiences with us!
Sunday 2nd of September 2018
I purchased an inexpensive portable file to use as my command center. I keep items in it that I need frequently, such as medical information. These items tended to get buried in the general filing cabinet in the appropriate folder. Now I can find these papers easily when I need them.
Simple Lionheart Life
Monday 3rd of September 2018
That's fantastic Karen! I agree - it's so easy to lose track of important papers if you don't have a system set up that works for you. Good for you for finding a system that simplifies your life and makes it easy to find what you need it! I love that! Thanks for reading and sharing your system with us!