Umm.. how much longer can I continue to use Hurricane Irene and the subsequent week without power and water as my excuse for not having my Mom act together? I mean, realistically we’ve have had power back for 10 days now… longer than it was out. So why am I still dealing with piles of new school supplies, stacks of craft mateirals leftover from summer, a plastic ziplock bag filled with both paid and unpaid bills (from when I drove around looking for WiFi to use online bill pay)?
It is because I have stopped using my command center as my way to stay on top of everything, and instead have resorted to multiple lists, and post it notes all over the place. I walk from room to room, noting what needs to be done, but can’t figure out when I am ever going to get back to it. And since I am not writing all of it down, in one place, and creating my “plan of attack”- it all feels so overwhelming and not do-able.
So today I resolved to push everything else aside- and get my command center back in shape. What exactly is a command center you ask? Well, allow me to show you!
If you want to get a better view of this picture, click on it to open it in another (larger) window
The idea behind having a functional command center is that you have one place where you put EVERYTHING you need… your important papers, your to-do lists, your grocery lists incoming (U.S.) mail, your calendar, your hermit crab (well, maybe not your hermit crab)… but the idea is that you have one place where it all goes. And this command center needs to be in a place where it is convenient for you most of the time… in my case, that’s in my kitchen. (Notice that part of my command center sits ontop of an unused indoor grill on my kitchen counter).
Let’s break it down:
Filing system with “tickler” files
You need a place to put all of that paperwork that comes your way and needs to be dealt with at some point in the future… the registration forms for kids activities, the flyer from the place that sells firewood that you want to order next month, the copy of the dental reimbursement form that you submitted to the insurance company. All of that fun stuff. I picked up this great tip from the fantastic e-book “Mind Organization for Moms“- keep a “tickler file” for paperwork that needs to be addressed (fairly) immediately. This keeps all of these papers neatly gathered in one place, just waiting for you to find a weekly opportunity to review and address them. Keep another “tickler file” for paperwork that is less urgent- and review that file every few weeks to stay on top of everything.
Place to put incoming mail (US) and bills
Instead of allowing incoming mail, flyers, and catalogs to pile up on counters, have one place where you store it until you deal with it. Ideally, go through that pile every day, separating items into bills to be paid, and paperwork to go into tickler files. Recycle the rest… right away!
Master To-Do list
Whether you keep this on paper or electronically- keep your to-do list in only one place (not multiple post it notes!), and write everything on it. Sometimes I keep mine in Evernote, and sometimes on a notepad. I keep one page for things to do this week, and a second page for other items and projects to get to later.
Personal calendar system
Whether this is on paper or electronic, your calendar should be located at or very near to your command center. My calendar of choice is Apple iCAL which I can access from my laptop, my iPad, and my iPhone, and my husband can see a copy on his iTouch.
I keep my ongoing grocery list on a clipboard in the kitchen. Every time I notice that we are running low on something, I add it to the list. It makes prepping for grocery shopping so much easier! And another tip… I created a form in Excel where I list the categories of items aisle by aisle based on the floor layout of my favorite grocery store. Makes shopping tons faster!
Cell phone charger
If everything else is located at your command center, it makes sense for your cell phone charger to be there too. You’ll be more likely to remember to plug the darn thing in every day!
One more tip: Staying on top of e-mail
Another great tip that I picked up from “Mind Organization for Moms“ is to clean out your email inbox (or all of your email inboxes) every day. Instead of letting your inbox fill up with tons of messages, create folders for different types of inbound mail that needs to be dealt with. I have a folder called “Inbox- Items Needing Immediate Follow Up”, one called “Inbox- Chinese School Homework”, and one called “Inbox- Articles to Read”, and one more called “Inbox-Other”. Several times a day I read through my email, delete what I can, and file the rest in these various inboxes to be dealt with at the right time. Of course the key is to regularly review and address these other folders… but I find it to be much easier when I don’t feel so overwhelmed trying to figure out what to tackle first!
Do you have a command center in your home? What tips can you share about how you make it work for you?