Living a healthier lifestyle is at the top of most resolution lists this time of year. Today, I want to discuss the status of your ‘but’ … not your gluteus maximus, your organizing but! You know the one – I would get organized, but I am too busy, but I can’t afford the perfect storage solution, but I don’t know where to start!
People are under the impression that because I’m a professional organizer, I don’t have a big but. Friends, this is not the case … I struggle with the size of my gluteals AND with organizing excuses! I am certain that The Container Store, Target, and Ikea have solutions to make life in the Torvik house SO much better. Nevertheless, until we win the lottery, my motto is function over form. Yes, FUNCTION over form! The key is finding something that works and then improving it as money and time allow. Striving toward an orderly life cannot be about the perfect storage/organizing solution or being too busy.
So, let’s start! For me, having a command center is key to our home running smoothly. What is a command center? It is what the name implies. Everything is commanded from this area: Bill paying, kids activities, the calendar, to-do items, and so much more. It deals mostly with the paper that comes through our home. Our command center also holds small items that need to be accessed often: Cameras, phone cords, stamps, my Bible and journal, mailing and printing supplies. Whoa! That sounds overwhelming. Let’s break this down…
Begin with paper. Each day paper enters the house. What do you do with it? Piling it on the counter is popular and easy until you need the counter to prepare dinner. Your command center should have a place for each type of paper that enters the house to ensure easy accessibility. For example, school papers, phone lists, bills, coupons, and insurance information. This process assumes that junk mail has been recycled at the door AND long term storage, a.k.a. the filing cabinet resides elsewhere. Command centers hold papers needed over the next few months. Papers that need to be stored long term; tax papers, wills and legal documents do not belong in your command center. Let’s do this step by step….
Step 1: Sort Your Paper
Sort papers into categories. Every family will have different categories, but a few suggestions are: Mom’s papers, dad’s papers, child #1, child #2, bills, church, health info, etc. After sorting, immediately remove paper that will be saved long term.
Step 2: Find a Home for Your Command Center
The location of the CC is important. Whether in clear view or behind closed doors, it needs to be easily accessible and usually resides on the main floor of a home. If you must run up or down stairs to put away or access a paper it gives procrastination a foothold. To get started, a smaller spot will do such as the bottom two shelves of a cupboard, or a few baskets and folders on a counter. Think about what will work for your family. Who will access the CC most often? If the CC isn’t visible, will it be used? Don’t run out and buy a piece of furniture before practicing. Use it, adapt it, and make it work before spending money on an expensive solution.
This step can be tricky – don’t let your buts get in the way. When starting out, command centers may not be the prettiest areas of a home, yet a CC is vital to every household running smoothly! Working with a less than ideal location is superior to no CC at all. Mine lives in the corner of the dining room. It is out of immediate sight of visitors and in a place where I can easily access important items. I’ve included a picture of my CC. Yes, mine is matchy, matchy. Trust me, it didn’t start this way – my kids are 22, 18 and 15. This CC has been evolving for a LONG time! While I would personally LOVE to hide it all away in a beautiful cabinet, function over form prevails right now. I continue to dream!
Step 3: Create a Home for Each Category
The number of products available for categorizing can be overwhelming i.e. folders, baskets, boxes, magazine and letter sorters, desktop files, stacking trays. Oh my! Don’t go crazy buying products – most items needed to start probably reside in your home. Remember, function over form – be sure your system works before purchasing products. My CC primarily hosts folders, magazine sorters and baskets. (Look online for ideas – think Pinterest.) Each category should have a separate space or home whether a basket, folder or file. As an example, a colored folder can be used for each person’s important papers i.e. phone numbers, activity calendars, etc. Then all of these colored folders can be placed in a magazine sorter. Add a basket or letter sorter for bills. Keep going until every category has a home. Again, every CC will be unique. Using my CC as one example, the top shelf contains a folder for each child, me, pets, insurance information, coupons, and a basket for my Bible, journal, and reading materials. The middle shelf has baskets for mailing supplies, electronics, and important small items. (My ear buds go here so no one else uses them!) Another shelf has a basket for pet supplies and my husband’s papers. The bottom shelf holds the printer and printing supplies.
Step 4: Use it!
We are not born organized. We learn to be organized. Organized living becomes a habit. It takes 3-4 weeks to develop a habit. If you want to reduce the size of your organizing but, practice using your command center until it becomes a habit!
Anyone can be organized. Like going to the gym or eating healthy, organizing requires discipline and practice. If you have a bad day don’t stress, start again tomorrow. There is more to healthy living than reducing our gluteus maximus. An organized, less chaotic home reduces our stress, which is key for healthy living. Get busy! Remember, we are here to help if you need a push.
Make 2016 the year you reduce your but! 😉