I was fortunate to help my friend "Amanda" (not her real name of course) organize her command center this weekend. The place where all school supplies, mail, keys, bills, scissors, tape, envelopes, pens, pencils, newsletters, batteries, phone chargers, small tools, miscellaneous hardware and much more end up. We all have this place in our house. My main command center is my office but I also have a sub-station or two around the house. I have two designated junk drawers in my kitchen, one which everything gets dumped in before company arrives and one that is for kids crayons, coloring books, markers and so on.
Amanda's command center wasn't bad at all. It is so easy for this area to get out of control. It is almost impossible to keep your command center clean and tidy when there are multiple hands in there several times a day. It is like shoveling when it is still snowing!
So what did we do first? First, we set up some bins on the table. Then, took everything off the shelves, one shelf at a time and placed like things in bins and piles. Any paper items, Amanda placed in one of three piles 1)trash, 2) shred and 3)keep. Once the shelves were empty, we moved to the drawers. As I was emptying out the desk drawers I realized she had some great space to really make this a functioning work area for her. We found more paper for her to go through and some donate-able (is that a word?)items such as place mats and table cloths that she hasn't used in quite a while.
After two garbage bags, two recycle bags and one donate bag we were ready to start placing the items back in command center. Since we set up the bins in the first place, we just used those same bins to place the items back on the shelves. We ended up with a bin of pens & pencils, glue, tape & scissors, phone & game chargers and even a miscellaneous bin.
Instead of placing a majority of the items back on the shelves on top, we used the great desk drawers on the bottom for items that she reaches for the most. We made sure that the bins above were clearly marked for her family to see where everything went. It shouldn't take them but 2 seconds to find their phone chargers and know where to return it.
Lessons learned from this re-organize:
1. Buy what you need. Sounds simple.Not really. It is easier to buy scotch tape in bulk when Costco or Sam's sells 2o roles for the cost of one! But the challenge is to figure out where to store the excess until you need it unless of course, you have a storage room just for this reason.
2. Designate a time for maintenance. You schedule oil changes for your car, you get your eyes checked each year and you get your dogs vaccinated annually. Why not set up a time to clean out command center? If done on a regular basis, it shouldn't take but 15 minutes to make it look great again.
3. Keep it simple. If every time you use your scissors you put them back in the same place you will always know where they are. Then the next time you are in Staples, you won't pick up another pair. If you never know where your scissors are you will end up with 20 pairs of scissors because you can't remember where you set them down the last time. Amanda and I had a great laugh over the amount of scissors we found in her shelves! All of us are like Amanda whether it is scissors, pens, tweezers (yours truly) or what have you!
4. Take the time test. Toss it or donate it if you haven't used in a six months or a year. This rule can be for anything from table cloths to phone books. In the case of phone books think of how often you refer to them. Do you go online to look for a number or do you reach for a phone book? If the latter, then keep them. If you go online, then toss them!
Remember....keep it simple and your results will be amazing!
"Thank you so much for organizing my "command center." I can't believe how much junk I had accumulated and how disorganized it was. I am so inspired."--Amanda, May 2009