In our busy lives, information and paper come at us from all directions all the time! Where does all this come from? It comes in with the mail, from school or work with our children or partner, or in a purse! These items might require immediate action, might be dates and times to enter on our calendar, bills to pay, or addresses or service providers we may need later. The family communication center is a space for information and paper that needs easy access and quick retrieval.
Our first decision is where best to create the space for this work zone. Where do you see these papers? In most homes, it is the kitchen since it is the hub of your home. However, if your home office is on the first floor and in a central part of your home, this is a great space to establish this area. You decide what works best for you!
Set up your work zone with a family calendar for dates. Purchase a bulletin board and dry erase calendar to post nearby. Have family members pin invitations, baseball schedules or school events to the bulletin board. Enter each family member’s information in different dry erase colors making it easy to see upcoming activities.
For papers begin by reviewing the current clutter. Start by deciding what to keep and what to toss. Be decisive! This ensures keeping only what you need. Continue by sorting your papers into the categories that work for you. Most people need these categories: to do, to pay, pending, and to file. Other categories include the names of your children and partner, ongoing activities, current schools and important organizations.
Now that you have categories, decide what organizing product might assist you best in keeping these papers in order. Look around the space, measure the area for size, and think about your personal organizing style. Do you prefer to see paper or not? If so, think of open box-like items to use for each category. If not, look for a desktop file suited to the décor of the space with hanging files to label with each category. Be sure to choose a product you love and this will help you stay organized.
Create family and personal routines for your family communication center. Hold a family meeting once a week to update your calendar. Family members take turns as scribe to add information. For the papers, designate an administrative time to work with each of the categories. This routine usually takes just one hour a week, especially if you choose a time you are high energy to get the job done. Write your administrative time in your personal calendar to commit to the time and make yourself accountable to get the job done. Remember to reward yourself for your efforts!
Creating a family communication center makes the difference in keeping information accessible and easy to locate. Find the right space, the right categories, the right products and the right time to make this work for you. You benefit having balance and peace of mind! Your family learns organizing systems and routines that will last a lifetime!
Ellen R. Delap, CPO
Making Time and Space for what's important to you!
Certified Professional Organizer
Member/Past President NAPO Houston
Member National Association of Professional Organizers
Member National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization