Today’s awesome idea is by Ashley McCann!
Calendars, meal plans, shopping lists, homework reminders, coupons, invitations and announcements—there’s an app for that; lots of them, in fact. They sit there on my phone, easily ignored, doing very little to combat the ever-growing pile of random (and easily forgotten) papers on the kitchen counter. As a result, the book fair is a surprise, or I find myself attempting to make a George Washington costume with an hour’s notice using found items from around the house.
How many times have I woken up, heart-thudding, with the realization that it’s snack day and I have no snack? Don’t ask.
So, I decided to free up my phone’s memory and try to jump-start my own by putting information somewhere that I’d see it—somewhere that wasn’t neatly tucked away in an electronic device or obnoxiously strewn across my countertops. I no longer wanted to be reminded, I wanted to remember…but then also be reminded in case that fell through. I needed somewhere to feel in control, organized, and like the captain of my ship in life’s rough waters, so I came up with a plan of attack and created a command center. It even sounds official and strategic, doesn’t it?
Here’s how to make your own:
Although it’s tempting to choose a tidy, out-of-the-way location—like a junk drawer or the garbage can—that is not what a command center captain would do. We are facing the reality of RSVP requests, dentist appointments, and fundraising flyers and you can no longer hide these things. That’s why we needed a command center in the first place, remember?
It’s ideal to place your new mecca of organization somewhere that you will actually see it and use it, and try as I might, the kitchen is hard to avoid. Claim an empty strip of wall, a pantry door, or even the front of the refrigerator, depending on what works best for your space, and imagine the possibilities.
Actually, you’re going to have to do more than imagine; get out a piece of paper and make a rough sketch and some lists of what you’ll need, both in terms of how the area can serve you and what you will need to purchase to accomplish this mission.
What will you need? You can go two ways, depending on your budget and style.
The slightly pricier and easier way is to hit your nearest big box store and purchase the office supplies that will best fit your needs. A dry-erase calendar and lists, clipboards for each child’s school flyers, metal strips for magnets, a compartmentalized bin for coupons and pens—there is so much hope in the office supply section! Most of these items can be adhered to your surface with double-sided tape, which is easy to apply. The clipboards can be customized with patterned Con-Tact paper and attached with small hooks or with magnets.
If you want to save on costs and are willing to get creative and invest a little extra time smoothing out air bubbles, purchase a roll of self-adhesive chalkboard paper and chalk markers. The result is a blank canvas (which is the good news and the bad news—you still have to add the content) and perfect for those with an artistic streak or the need for a less structured space to organize their thoughts. Write whatever you need to remember, and write it big to create an easy visual reminder for the rest of the family.
Twine, washi tape and wooden clothespins come together to create an inexpensive display garland for photo cards, art and announcements:
To give your refrigerator the same chalkboard paper treatment, search the internet for instructions on how to remove your model’s door handle so that you can smooth the paper on horizontally with minimal cutting. Slowly peel away the paper backing and use a damp sponge or credit card edge to smooth any wrinkles or bubbles. The seams will be virtually invisible once in use and you can continue to use magnets. It’s an inexpensive makeover for an ugly refrigerator, and since the paper is removable, it isn’t a permanent one. After all, maybe one day you’ll be so organized you won’t need an organization center? Or more likely, you’ll move.
The most vital aspect of this project is the content, so come up with a process:
- Try not to handle items more than once—it comes out of the backpack or mailbox and is immediately posted or written down at the command center and then thrown away.
- Come up with a long-term system for storing kids’ art (a digital copy will do, in most instances).
- Dedicate a certain day of the week and month to updating meal plans, to-do lists, and calendar dates; don’t worry, you’ll be more inspired to work on these things when they are out in the open this way.
Although electronic reminders will likely always have their purpose, the act of writing and seeing and being actively engaged with recording upcoming activities seems to help cement memories into place. It’s so much harder for snack day to sneak up on me when I’ve been looking at it every time I feed the cat or wait for my coffee to cool. Also, family members have no (good) excuse not to pitch in on the “to-do” list or reason to ask what’s for dinner. Take charge of the new year, and your life, by creating a kitchen command center to cut down on clutter and chaos.
Ashley McCann is a mother of two boys, a word nerd, a reluctant yogi, a hedgehog owner and a newspaper columnist. She spends her time on the beaches in her hometown of Naples, FL and blogging for Treat.com and others.