Creating A Household Management Center

by Ramona Creel

Centralizing Your Communications

Your command center should be a high-traffic area of your home, where people are constantly passing by. Just make sure you have enough room for a desk-type flat surface, storage for files and some basic office supplies, and hanging space on the wall. Usually, a nook in the kitchen or just off of your main living room is the ideal spot. Now let's make it functional! In this hurried day and age, parents and children often pass like ships in the night – and sometimes the only way to stay in touch is by leaving notes for each other. Set up a bulletin board or magnetic dry erase board, designated JUST for communications (no posting of class pictures or drawings the kids did — you can find another spot for those). This is where you leave messages for other family members — a reminder for Johnny to take his soccer uniform with him to school, a grocery list (and the appropriate coupons) for hubby's shopping excursion, Sally's permission slip for today's field trip, whatever. Just be sure to regularly clean off old messages to keep your board from getting overloaded.

While you've got your hammer and nails out, get a good-sized wall calendar and put it up right next to your bulletin board. The goal is to record every family member's schedule in one centralized place — so you can review the entire household's activities with one glance. Write each person's appointments, deadlines, and other responsibilities with a different colored marker — blue for mom, green for dad, red for Sally, and purple for Johnny. It helps if you have a “family planning session” at the start of each week. Ask each person what they have coming up in the near future — extracurricular activities, days that your kids need a ride somewhere (as well as days you have to work late and can't pick them up), school project due dates, birthday invitations, vacations, dentist appointments, etc. Everything should go on the calendar.

The Paper Side Of Things

Another part of your command center is your incoming paperwork processing system. Set up a hanging file box or rack and create a folder for each type of “to-do” that you regularly encounter — “to file”, “to read”, “to pay”, “to call”, “to sign and send back to school”, etc. Every day — as the mail comes in, as you bring papers home from work, as your children give you a new pile from school, take a minute to sort each item according to the next step you need to take. Put each document in the appropriate folder (and throw all the other junk away). Now you're ready to tackle your many responsibilities in an organized fashion — just sit down once a week and go through each folder, taking care of all your to-do's in order.

If you don't already have a file drawer at your command center, it's also a good idea to setup an expanding organizer for your important papers. You can create one system for “fingertip files” — those things you refer to often, like phone directories, class and team rosters, babysitter instructions, pre-printed grocery lists, etc. But you may also want to keep a separate system for those “monthly” files that you access when you pay bills and go through your to-do's — utilities, mortgage, health records, school paperwork, files for your hobbies, etc. If everything is accessible from one location and you don't have to run around the house looking for supplies, files, and your schedule — managing your household responsibilities will go much faster and be a lot less stressful!

© Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.