Fall is such a busy time for my family, so creating systems and organizing schedules is a must. Papers seem to multiply this time of year, and new, busy schedules need to be managed. Without a family organization center, chaos ensues.
I am a big believer in the concept of family command centers. I feel much more relaxed and in control when I have a plan to stay on top of the family’s activities and papers. A family organization center helps me achieve this. Because I love fall and want to fully enjoy the season, it’s important that I take the time to be organized so I can do that.
How to Develop Your Own Family Organization System
Begin by thinking through what items or scheduling issues or paperwork overloads cause your family the most day-to-day stress. For many families, keeping up with the school calendar, sports schedules, and appointments—not to mention the bills and home management needs—can be frustrating and exhausting.
While there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution, there are many ways to create a command center that will be functional for your family’s unique needs and home.
Decide where to put your command center, and how to build it.
You can create a simple command center with a cork square, or several boards on the back of a door for calendars, or a larger cork or magnetic board on a kitchen wall. You can even designate an entire room or area of your home, such as a mudroom or entryway, for your command central.
A desk area can be a great command central when it is organized with mail baskets, a bulletin board, home-management notebooks and bill-paying stamps and envelopes.
Develop a system for paperwork.
In your command center area, include a system for important papers. If you have enough space nearby, it is ideal to create a place for items your kids might need for school, such as hooks for backpacks and bins for shoes. I like to include nearby storage for basic school supplies—like pens for signing permission slips, paper for writing teacher notes, and even report covers and highlighters.
I’ll admit that, for me, papers are the most difficult things to keep on top of. I don’t like filing cabinets, notebooks or drawers for time sensitive papers! I tend to lose them or forget about them if I don’t have a good visible system.
One way I personally deal with important papers and school calendars is with my “take action” magnetic chalkboard, which is right by my kitchen in a hallway. It is only used for important papers, sports schedules, school calendars, teacher letters and reminders of things I need to take care of. I see the board many times a day, so I never fear losing important papers—as long as my family uses the system!
I also use a memo board to post papers or receipts I find lying around the house. When my husband or kids are in a panic about a lost paper, I know just where to find it!
Take advantage of organization apps.
Because my husband and I both run businesses as well as our family, we also make use of electronic gadgets to help us organize our daily calendars and to-do lists. While I do love my big chalkboard on the wall, I have my iPad handy to keep my Google calendar up-to-date and organized with my daily to-do lists and schedules. It is very easy to use and to update, and I can also take it with me on errands.
Make room by the door for essentials.
Rounding out our own family command central system, right around the corner from the memo board is a set of hooks in our entry for my son’s sweatshirts and backpack for easy access on the way out the door. A dresser holds school supplies. No need to run all over the house looking for a pen, paper, coat, backpack or school calendar when you start using your family command central system!
No matter what system you use to organize your family’s schedules, activities, school or sport calendars and supplies, a key to family command central success is to make the location very accessible to your daily hub of activity at home. If it is in a far-off corner of the house, it isn’t likely to be as effective.
Do you have a family command center?
How do you manage papers and schedule organization? Share with us on Facebook!
Updated August 14, 2020; originally published September 23, 2013.