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Create Your Own Command Center

You blinked and now summer is almost over. Which means you should be savoring every remaining moment of longer days and sunny skies and salt water you can capture. But you should also be planning for smooth sailing in the busier season ahead. For most folks, autumn is an abrupt reality check filled with scheduling demands and expectations and a significantly faster-paced life than the summer days it follows. There’s school, extra-curricular activities, holidays approaching faster than you’d like to think about, lots of things to do, places to be, and people/things to manage.

You need the equivalent of a military op order—you know, a game plan to make sure all those subordinates (aka kids, pets, spouses, random people living in your home) are conducting the business of your home in an efficient and effective manner. And the perfect tool for that? A command center. Here’s help organizing one of your own!

Determine what/whom you’re trying to keep organized. Identify the appropriate troops. Are you trying to muster children? You’ll want to designate space for backpacks, lunch boxes, school permission slips, musical instruments, and/or sports gear. Grown-ups with too much to remember who are always on the run? Perhaps you’ll want to corral headgear, boots, car keys, phones/chargers, briefcases, shopping lists, dry cleaning, etc.

Pick your spot. Now that you know whom and what you’re trying to wrangle, it’s time to find a home for your command center. You need space and access for the ideal location. You want a high traffic area—one where everyone in your home passes often. Kitchens and front door areas tend to fit the bill for this. Someone is always either coming and going or hungry. But the space part is important too; a command center in a tiny front entryway is more hazardous than helpful.

Gather your supplies. Remember talking about what needs to be organized? Make your supply list based upon that. Backpacks do well with hooks or cubbies. Shoe holders for shoes. A stand or table of some kind for a docking station or file system. File folders. A big wall calendar you can hang prominently. A cup for pens. Think about how you’d navigate using this space to determine what you’ll need.

Resist the temptation to go crazy at your favorite fancy storage store of choice. Remember that everything that comes into your home must eventually be packed and moved with the next PCS. And more “stuff” doesn’t necessarily make organizing easier. See what you already have that fits the bill. Like that corkboard or old nightstand that you moved last PCS but haven’t taken out of the garage yet.

Once you’ve shopped your house and determined you still need items that you don’t already own, don’t underestimate the value (literally and figuratively) of a trip to your local dollar/discount store. You can find hooks, storage baskets, and more very inexpensively. And, bonus, you won’t feel guilty leaving them behind or discarding them when it’s time to pack out again.

Set up the space. If you’re not a fan of holes in the wall (or are responsible for repairing them before you move out), it’s a good idea to draw a sketch of how you want the area set up. Where will you hang the calendar? Are you installing shelves? Is there an outlet for your charging station nearby? Once you have it all planned out, it’s just a matter of setting the area up.

 Customize to your heart’s content. Just because something is meant to be efficient and useful doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Arrange things in a way that’s playful and fun or aesthetically pleasing to you. If it looks great, you’re more likely to enjoy it and use it. Go crazy with the colors that make you smile. Add a plant or a framed version of your family motto. Make this space yours!

With a command center designed with how your family best functions in mind, your family will run like a lean, mean, military-precision machine.