I love having everything at my fingertips so it’s natural that setting up systems for my clients is on my top list of happiness projects. There is something about knowing where things are “just in case” you need them that gives me comfort.
When it comes to organizing, many people have an inverted idea of what is important versus not important. What I mean by that is that many of my clients have spent time organizing the items they use rarely or want to archive but never seem to spend the time on the important items like a mail processing center and a first aid system which is typically encompassed in a home command center. If you are in that category read on, it’s time to tackle the everyday!
For a command center I make a list of all of the regular users in the household and then I add potential users like grandparents, nannies, housekeepers, and friends. I want it to be a natural system that is easy to maintain and efficient to use when needed. I was the system to be so obvious that a party guest could find what they needed on a first time visit. Does that make sense? When items that are used on a regular basis have a system it is easier to keep stock which hinders over-buying and increases functionality, a win win on many levels.
Last week I tackled a command center off the kitchen in our Menlo Park client’s home. I had a brief interview with the client to take notes on how she uses the space, potential users, and her goals, wishes and dreams. Top on her list was to have a system for the mail, to-dos, reading materials, invitations, kids artwork, etc. Next was to have less in the cabinets, purging extra items and creating systems for things that her family used on the regular. In the above “before” photo you will notice that it would be difficult to find a particular item like a bandaid or an inhaler if you needed it. The stacks on the shelves seem overwhelming and encourages you to close the cabinet and run to the nearest drugstore to repurchase an item for the convenience of not having to sift though piles.
And this is what it looked like after. We got it to this point by pulling everything out, sorting the items on tables, comparing the purposes to other areas in the home (mudroom, home office, playroom, storage, etc.) and then we set up a quick system for what seemed to needed on a daily/weekly/ or as-needed basis by additional household users like grandparents and nannies.
I use Container Store wish lists to develop plans for projects frequently. Some of my clients like to purchase items on their own so it is a great guide for them because I add items to the wish lists with measurements and purpose in mind. Other clients just ask me to take case of things so it is a great way to organize my thoughts. Here is the wish list for this particular space…
There are some instances when products don’t matter but this was an instance when they do. This space is in a focal point of the home so I knew it would be important to have a clean, sleek, and efficient design that would blend in and also be functional and obvious to all users in the home.
I’ve been using chalk labels a lot lately because they look great and they can easily be updated and changed as the needs of the space change. Right now the bins in this command center hold children’s medicine and a tons of first aid supplies but down the road those items may need to be updated and the bins be repurposed for something else.
My client had a horizontal system for her mail and I told her to stop the insanity. You have to go vertical to maintain a system in my opinion. A file box will help you quantify your to-dos and avoid a pile up from other household users. I have a vertical filer and I know when it is too full for me to add additional items it is time to get down to business (process mail/file/follow up/etc.). I love these sleek boxes from the Poppin line at The Container Store. For the record, I don’t do all of the shopping there, it just happens to be close to my office. My other favorite shopping spots at Target, Amazon, The Organizing Store, and Pinterest. My file labels are 1.) to-do 2.) to-file 3.) invitations 4.) gift certificates 5.) menus which was developed by sorting through her mail and evaluating what comes in and what needs to be processed.
If you need to take command of your everyday systems I hope you take my advice and set up a command center this fall. Click here for a look at another command center that I set up recently, happy organizing!