The start of the school year can be a bit overwhelming. With new schedules and routines to sort out, on some days just getting the family out the door can seem like a major accomplishment. That’s why September is our favorite time of the year to get families organized. Every busy family should have a home command center, an area where you can manage the basic functions in your life – kids, pets, home projects, bills, mail – everything.  

Here are a few simple steps to help you get started:

Step One: Decide on a location.

Ideally your home command center will be in an area near where you enter the house everyday. You’ll need some open counter space and possibly a wall for posting items like family calendars, lunch menus and important contact information.

Step Two: Gather supplies.

Keep a trashcan in the area so you can dispose of junk mail immediately. Also keep a mail opener, notepads, pens, a family calendar, grocery checklists, envelopes, stamps, and a bin for incoming magazines nearby. 

Step Three: Set-up a file box.

A sleek desktop file box becomes a quick and easy way to sort mail and paperwork. Examples of files might include bills to pay, items to discuss with your family, pending items (for things like concert tickets), and action items. Other files can be customized based on your life. Consider files for current tax items, family medical issues and school information. These should only be files you need to access on a daily or weekly basis.

Step Four: Figure out your mail routine.

Financial information like bank and investment account statements can be accessed through online accounts, which can majorly cut down on incoming mail. However, you still need a plan for dealing with mail or it will pile up. As mail comes in, put it into the files created (see step three) or ideally the trashcan. Anything that requires immediate action or a decision should get taken care of immediately or goes in the action items file.

Step Five: Don't forget the kids.

The start of the school year means a major influx of kids’ paperwork. As your children’s art and other mementos come in, slip them into nice storage boxes you keep nearby. Limit yourself to one box per child per year, so you can prioritize items to keep without having paper overtake your home. When birthday invitations, notices and critical deadlines are on paper, add this information to your calendar and toss the paper.

Step Six: Make your system portable.

As parents, we are rarely in one place so getting things done in the car pool lane and while waiting for doctor’s appointments is key. I love the OTG|247 #8 to contain all the important information you need at your fingertips, making your home command center totally portable.  

Korinne Kubena Belock is the founder of Urban Simplicity, a professional organizing company, with operations in Palm Beach and New York City. Follow Korinne on Instagram and Facebook for organizing tips and inspiration.