Do you want to reduce your family’s stress load and improve your health? Get control of your clutter.
Clutter takes a big toll on mental and physical health. In one study, women who described their houses as disorganized or haphazard had patterns of the stress hormone cortisol associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome. And they were more likely to feel depressed.
The solution? Create a family command center that serves as the well-organized hub of your family life. The next time you’re searching for keys, paperwork, an address, a backpack, or a shopping list, you’ll know exactly where to look. Keep reading to learn how to build a family command center and make it your favorite place in the house.
Choose a central location that everyone passes through every day. Popular places include:
- A nook in the kitchen
- A bare wall in the entryway or mudroom
- A bare wall or nook in the home office
Once you find the perfect spot, it’s time to transform it into the center of your family’s routines. You may need to outfit it with some supplies.
Unsure of what you need in your center? Here’s a way to figure it out. Examine a table, drawer, or piece of furniture that collects clutter to discover your family’s organizational trouble spots. For example, if you find stacks of mail and a jumble of keys, you likely need some small hooks and a mail filing system. If you find a heap of coats and backpacks thrown on a chair, you need some large hooks positioned at a height everyone can reach.
Once you stock your command center, it’s time to turn it into a one-stop shop for your family’s planning, routines, and checklists. Brainstorm about which organizational tools will help you manage your family and work life. Here are some to consider:
- Master calendar: Do you manage hectic home, school, and work schedules for lots of busy people? Sync everyone’s plans on one large family calendar.
- “Getting ready” checklists: Tired of nagging your kids to get dressed or brush their teeth? Make before-school and bedtime checklists, and include images for kids who can’t read.
- Chore lists: Spell out age-appropriate expectations for each family member, and include images for kids who can’t read.
- Cleaning schedule: Is your family always behind on housework? Make a cleaning schedule, and designate one room or big task to focus on daily.
- Meal plans: Put an end to the question “What’s for dinner?” Plan meals in advance to make food prep and shopping more efficient, and post a weekly menu so everyone knows what to expect.
- To-do lists: Most people have to juggle too many daily tasks. Post daily and weekly task lists for older kids, teens, and adults.
Your command center won’t function well if you and your family don’t want to use it. Take the time to make it an attractive and enjoyable place to spend time.
- Pick a color palette: According to some studies, the color of a room can affect the mood of its occupants. Moreover, people are affected differently by the same color. Brainstorm with your family and decide on a palette that suits you. It could be bright, muted, or neutral, or use pastel or earth tones. Pick colors and a style that fits into your overall home décor.
- Add a plant: Indoor plants help clean the air, and studies suggest they can also help people concentrate, be productive, and stay healthy.
- Corral cords: Don’t let a tangle of cords turn your family command center into chaos. Purchase a multi-device charging station to contain cord clutter, or experiment with other ways to hide cords, such as inside a box, under a table, or in a cupboard.
A family command center makes it easier to manage paperwork and schedules and to coordinate work and home life. But without routine maintenance, it will quickly become cluttered and dysfunctional. Schedule two hours a week to update your calendar, plan meals, make a shopping list, toss and file paperwork, and spruce things up.
Get started now on planning, building, and outfitting your family command center, and soon you’ll wonder how your family ever functioned without it.