Last week I shared how to create a simple, centralized command center to help tackle paper clutter and simplify your life. Today I thought it would be fun to give you a detailed tour of my own simplified command center. And show you exactly how I put the steps I suggested to create your own simple command center into practice in our home.
I often find it helpful to see real-life examples of organizational systems in people’s homes. Not only does it give me ideas and inspiration, but it’s also just fun to get a peek inside other people’s homes!
Be sure to check out last week’s post with 6 steps to help you set up your own command center to simplify your life.
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A note about digital filing systems
As I mentioned in last week’s post, paper clutter is something a lot of households struggle with. A lot of simplifying experts will tell you the best way to manage paper clutter is to digitize everything. That’s great advice if it works for you and your family. But I am a big advocate of finding the version of minimalism that works for you.
If a digital filing system works best for you, go that route. If a digital filing system feels like one more step in the process that you know you’ll likely never get to, stick with physical files.
Whatever method you choose, just be sure to be intentional about what you save, keeping only what you truly need and use. Then maintain it moving forward so it continues to work for you and simplify your life.
You do you!
I am still old school in a lot of ways and don’t digitize much of our paperwork. It’s just how I prefer it. For example, I prefer a paper calendar and planner over a digital one. Some of our paperwork, like bills, are digital. But a lot of it is still physical paper, especially paperwork that comes home with my kids from school.
The important thing to remember when simplifying and decluttering your life is to decide what works for you. Then work with your preferences rather than against them.
The key for me is finding ways to minimize, then organize, paper clutter, office supplies and household administrative tools in our home. Making it easy to handle paperwork, office supplies, etc. in the future and keep our home clutter-free.
This is what works for our family. But it’s not the only way to handle household admin items and paperwork. My hope is that it can give you some inspiration and show you what works for us. Then you can take what works for you and set up your own system to free your home from paper clutter!
A command center without the visual clutter
There is plenty of inspiration for command centers on Pinterest. However, I noticed most of them tended to be quite visually busy, with the items in the command center out in the open. As someone who prefers a clutter-free look in our home, along with being a Highly Sensitive Person who easily feels overwhelmed by visual clutter, I knew I wouldn’t like a highly visible or busy command center.
I want our command center to be easily accessible and functional and keep clutter from piling up on the flat surfaces in our home. But I don’t want to see all the stuff in the command center all the time.
My solution was to set up our command center in 2 parts, both hidden from sight but still easily accessible. While I was hesitant to spilt our command center into 2 parts, given our space, it works well for us.
Our simplified command center part 1: “My Office”
The first part of our command center is what I call “my office”. It’s located in the built-in cabinets in our kitchen dining area (see the picture below – the blue arrow is pointing to my “office”).
My office cupboard and drawers include our office supplies and all the things I need or use regularly when doing any administrative type tasks.
Here is a closer look inside my office cupboard:
Inside the top cupboard, the two white binders on the left are my budget binder and household management binder.
I use the budget binder to track our spending and household budget. My household management binder holds all the important documents and information I refer to often. Things like contact information and important numbers or business cards, meal planning calendars, my reading list, etc.
The sticker activity books are my youngest’s “homework books” that he works on while his older sister is doing her homework.
The green magazine holders hold notebooks I use for various things. One is for my grocery list. Another is for making to-do lists, packing lists, etc. I also have a notebook to track important information for my daughter’s health issues. Can you tell I’m a big fan of lists and writing things down? 😉
I also keep my daily planner in this cupboard. My planner is usually out on the counter during the day so I can refer to it often. But I like having a spot to tuck it into my office cupboard quickly and easily as well.
A place for everything to avoid clutter piles
I prefer my kitchen counters mostly clear, and I find clutter seems to attract clutter.
When my planner sits out on the counter all the time, it was too easy to tuck a couple of papers under it to deal with later. Then a few more, then a magazine, then a few more papers. And before I knew it there would be a pile of paper clutter on the counter.
Creating an easy to access place to put my planner helps to prevent clutter from piling up on the counter.
Beside my planner, I keep my glasses (I don’t wear them all the time, just for seeing distance). Then I have two small plant pots I repurposed to hold pens and pencils. I make sure to limit how many we have of each and promptly throw out any that don’t work or I don’t like. I also tuck any gift cards we have to use beside the pen container.
On the wall inside the cupboard is a small corkboard hung with command strips to easily pin up stamps, swimming passes and other small items. It’s an easy way to keep those small items from floating around all over the place or getting lost.
Inside my office drawers:
The drawers below my office cupboard are awkward because they only open about 6 inches. It makes it hard to put much in them except small items. Because of this, I use them to store less frequently used office supplies.
In the top drawer, I keep erasers and a pencil sharpener in the first basket for my daughter to use when doing her homework. Next, I have a small stapler, sticky flags, paper clips and a smaller container holding flash drives.
I keep a tube of lip gloss and nail clippers handy in a small ceramic dish. Then I have scotch tape, masking tape and washi tape. The last container holds a few notepads and a calculator. Behind the baskets is a three-hole punch.
In the next drawer, I keep my journal, envelops for money my kids receive as gifts that they are waiting to spend and our collection of Canadian Tire money (my kids like to use this when they are playing store or restaurant). I also have a small piggy bank for loose change.
On the other side of the drawer, I keep envelopes, our address book, a few blank thank you and birthday cards, and our chequebook.
Less stuff means the flexible use of space
The great thing about decluttering and simplifying is that you free up extra space in your home to use in a way that works best for you. Because we have thoroughly decluttered the kitchen and cupboards, I have plenty of cupboard space to use in less traditional ways.
Having empty cupboards and drawers to use to create a mini office in our kitchen has been a great way to keep our office supplies centrally located, easily accessible and best of all – out of sight!
Our simple command center part 2: paperwork management
The second part of our command center is where I house all of our paperwork. It’s located in our main coat closet just outside the kitchen. The chimney runs up through one side of the closet, making one half only about 4 inches deep. But it’s the perfect depth to hold a wall mounted filing system. And keeps our paperwork easily accessible but hidden at the same time.
A wall mounted filing system makes it easy to categorize our paperwork and quickly file papers. The previous owners left the key rack that we use for our spare vehicle and house keys.
The current categories in my filing system are:
- Reference – anything I need to refer to often (i.e. extracurricular calendars, recycling pick-up schedule, etc.).
- Bills to pay – pretty self-explanatory!
- Action items – any paperwork that needs some action taken but isn’t particularly time sensitive. I usually look in this folder on a weekly basis.
- To do – this week! – any paperwork that needs to be dealt with within the next couple of days. I usually look in this folder every day or two to make sure I don’t miss anything.
- Medical info – my daughter has some medical issues that require frequent appointments with various medical professionals. I’ve found it easiest to keep all of her medical information together in one place.
- To File – this is where I keep paperwork that needs to be filed. Our long-term filing box is downstairs in our storage area, so to keep it easy I put anything I need to save or file in the “To File” folder. Then once a month or so I take that “to file” folder and file everything properly in our filing box. This makes it quick and easy to stay on top of paperwork and filing, without requiring much effort. And also gives me the opportunity to re-assess if each item is really worth saving or not before filing it.
- School folders for each kid – I keep a school folder for each of my kids, with school-specific papers I need to reference again (i.e. monthly newsletters, hot lunch ordering information, class calendars, etc.)
- Coupons – we usually only use coupons for take-out food, so this is where we keep them along with any take-out menus for places we order from frequently. We live in a small town where most restaurants don’t have websites, let alone menus online!
An organized and functional command center to keep life simple
I truly believe decluttering will go further towards simplifying your life than organizing. But organization does play a key role in simplifying too.
First, decide what you actually need and use regularly to keep up with paperwork and other administrative tasks for you and your family. Then create a centralized, functional and organized command center to further simplify your life.
I hope you enjoyed seeing inside my simple command center!
Our simple command center has helped simplify our lives so much. Having centralized and easily accessible places to keep all our household management type items is great. Everything from paperwork to office supplies has a home and is easy to find and put away.
Our command center helps keep our countertops clutter-free. And the best part is it’s all hidden behind the cupboard and closet doors reducing visual clutter in our home as well. Everything is tucked away, but easily accessible when I need it.
I hope seeing inside my simple command center was helpful. Don’t forget to check out last week’s post with my 6 easy steps to create your own command center.
I’d love to hear from you – do you have a command center? What is your favourite part of your command center? If you don’t have a command center, do you think setting one up would be helpful? What causes you the most stress with paperwork or household management that you’d like to simplify with a command center?