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Take Control of Your Paper Piles – Build a Command Center!

By · 6/24/2010

Everyone needs a “Command Center”!  A holding station for all the important papers that come in and out of our life on a daily basis.

What do you do with your mail when it comes into the house?  Do you pile it on the kitchen counter or stuff it in a cupboard?  How about that permission slip that needs to be signed, or the birthday invitation?  We all have LOTS of paper.  It is one of the most frustrating and time consuming tasks we deal with.  If we ignore it for too long it consumes us, and we end up feeling stuck in a hole we can’t dig out of.

“So, what does a “Command Center” look like and how can I create one?”, you ask.  They are very simple to put together, and mine looks like this.

  • To create one for yourself you will need:  One desk top file box (small or large), 10 to 20 hanging file folders with tabs (depending on the size of your file box), and a tickler file.
  • After you purchase your supplies, take a look at the most recent pile on your desk or counter-top.  This will give you an idea of the most common paper you deal with.
  • Make a list.  Your list might include bills, coupons, upcoming events, items for each family member, things you want to read, projects that need to be done, committee information, etc.  The items on your list will become the headings on your file tabs.  If you forget something you can always add one later.

Now when the bills come in, you take them out of the envelopes (recycle all unnecessary paper) and put them in the “bills to be paid” file.  When it is time to pay them, the statements will be at your fingertips.  No more looking through stacks of paper.

Say you have signed your kids up for summer camp, and you have their confirmation letter and emergency medical paperwork to fill out.  You don’t want to lose those important papers, so you put them in the “upcoming events” file.

Are you the head of a committee or the PTA president?  Make a file for “PTA” or title one for your prospective committee to house current paperwork for that group.  

It is good for each member of the family to have a file, so they have a place to put papers that they want you to look at or that you need them to look at.  

Lastly, a “tickler file” can be an awesome tool for those of us with packed schedules.  We can not hold all the info. in our mind, we need a monthly/daily system that will tickle our brain on any given day and remind of us of what we need to take care of.  Here is one example:  It is June, and you get a wedding invitation for July 22nd.  Where do you put it?  Not the refrigerator!  Put it in the corresponding month in your tickler file.  When July is approaching, you take the items from the July file and put them in the daily slots.  Maybe you want to buy the gift on the 5th, put the invite with the registry info. in the 5th slot.  After you buy the gift put the invite in the 22nd slot, so you have the directions to the wedding ready to go.   

So, you get the picture….a place for every piece of paper and every piece of paper in its place.  No more piles and no more wasted hours looking for missing items.  I have set up many Command Centers for my clients, and they have greatly simplified their lives.  If you would like to set up your own “Command Center ” and still have questions, please email or call me and I will help you!!  Go to my contact button at the top of the page and send me a note.

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