Monday, July 30, 2018

Command centers (Becoming Minimalist)

I wasn't sure where we should begin, after my previous post about being influenced/trying to reject the perfection push/overdone-ness on social media, while slowly becoming minimalist...  But I did get quite a few private messages begging for more and the "how it's done" etc.  Personally, I've been spending the week working on a command center that works for my entire family, not because Pinterest told me to, but because we needed a system.   After seeking inspiration all over social media, I was severely annoyed by all the cluttery, unneeded excess out there, so I figured this was a good place to begin, with our series.  Besides, once your family system is in place, you can move outward to the other places in your home.  (We will get there, slowly but surely.  My blogging goal is to post once a week on this topic for some time.)  Keep in mind, my brand of minimalism, is (like I stated previously) a work in progress.  I need more of some stuff now with teens than I will need someday, but I need less than I needed when they were toddlers, in other ways.  It's fluid.  Not beating ourselves up for actually needing some things is okay.  Minimalism isn't about having zero... it's about not having excess that gets in the way of life priorities.  (Because the more excess you have, the less you'll live, as you'll spend so much more time managing that stuff.)

So command centers... here it is. TaDa! Things I've seen other people display in theirs after my extensive "Pinter-research": keys, calendars, mail drop zones, schedules, grocery lists, clocks, chalkboards with quotes, artwork in frames, photos, ETC. Since I'm sharing mine, I will tell you... I didn't need half of that stuff in my personal command center, and if I had included those things, this would have felt cluttery, no matter how cutely it's displayed.  I was going for minimal needs MET, more or less. This corner, beside our desk is perfect.  It's mostly hidden from guests, but we see it daily. That is the perfect spot for something that has potential to get cluttered without constant attention.

 My husband and I work the mail/bills system together now, so we needed a joint game plan/ space/ holding spot for papers, so we each know where things are. My minimalist approach for this system, became "handle each item minimally." I know, duh.  In our home it works like this:

1. Mail comes in from the box, gets dropped into the mail bins on the side of our island, which I have shown you many times, (above.) This is our first line, drop zone for everything. Purses, backpacks, shoes even. It's the only place for one, and though I would love a different system, you work with what you have... (which can I just add, is the heart of minimalism, I believe. Not constantly going out and buying the new thing.  Just simplifying it down to what you've got and what works best for your household- not the ones who live inside Pinterest. Ha!)
2. Once the mail is opened (that same day) we separate recycling and toss it into the bin below our sink immediately. (Tip- always deal with all your papers immediately.)

SIDE NOTE: I hung these metal peg boards in the office earlier this summer, and am just now putting them to work with this new system.  I didn't want them going to waste, sitting in the garage, so I moved them because they were perfect for our family here.  This whole thing took a lot of thinking because we have a small home that operates as a command center, rather than being able to have one spot for everything.  What I mean by that, is it's broken up into places that make sense. For example, our family calendar is on the front of the fridge because that works best and we can all add our events to it and see it at all times. I left it there as we are all very used to seeing it from the dinner table as we chat about upcoming schedules, etc.

That said, before you go creating your command center, sit and think it through.  Think about what already works (probably doesn't need changing) and what you're always fighting.  If things get dropped someplace and you can't fight that battle, make a space for it instead.  (Put a bowl where your hubby always leaves his keys, or a container to hold mail, a hook for the purse, a tray for the shoes, etc.) (Make sense?) Only fight what you can win!
So, back to the mail and papers that come in.

3. After recycling is tossed, bills get swept up by me, and put into the "to pay" bin.  The other mail can get placed wherever it needs to go. Misc, papers to be dealt with later (think voters pamphlets, etc.) get placed in another bin in the office because then it's close to the computer where most of them are dealt with, read, filed or grabbed later. It gets them out of our kitchen drop zone and at least gives them a proper, more long-term space. Which is what my husband needs.  I don't but he does, so I make this work. Ideally nothing goes onto the desktop for clutter piles anymore, since the family shares this desktop space.

4. Receipts get pinned to the board nightly, and now have a spot for the weekly checkbook updating.

5. Our household budget is posted and clear (Flipped backward of course, for privacy).

6. Extra items, such as stamps and reward movie tix for teens are gathered here so we can see when we need more, etc.

7. School papers that need to be posted are pinned here as well. (I get them and put them in place immediately, rather than leave them on the counter. This is KEY to that minimal mindset.  Putting things in their places, right away.  Making a snap decision to keep/post, file, recycle, or snap a photo of it so you have the schedule or info at hand. (Tip- always take a photo of any school info, especially field trip info, even if you don't think you'll need it later or you've posted the paper someplace or filed it away. I learned this the hard way!) (I'm betting there is an app for this and if someone has one, please share!)

I used wooden chalk tags (Joann's+magnets glued to back) for sectioning off the peg board and found the push pin magnets at Office Max.  Magnetic clips are great for papers that need to be hung and when everything is categorized and intentional, you can keep items and clutter to a minimum.  You'll instantly know what needs to be kept and what doesn't when everything has a place to go.

Now for other papers.  Our life binder is still the family command tool. (I shared it here as well.) You may want to put one together, and you could keep passwords, important info to remember, address books, emergency contacts, school calendars, folders for each child through the year, etc. (I keep one envelope/file folder for each child in this binder, and during the year, as they present me with their awards, photos, programs for concerts or other keepsake paper items, I tuck them into that envelope.  At the end of the school year, they remove all the papers, sort them, and file them into their grade envelopes, in the bin they each keep in their closets.) (I shared that system here.) I also keep track of their community service projects in a log with their file. (Looming College applications planning, anyone?)

In our office, we also have some working files, and some long term files that I manage.  This is a whole other subject, but my tip is- use uniform files, folders, and labels for a cohesive look.  Keep things logical and simple and put hanging folder tabs on the same side to streamline.  Shred things or recycle immediately, file things as quickly as possible, and have a place and label for all others.  My man makes a LOT of piles and so I gave him a bin to put them in.  When it's full he tends to empty it out and take care of it. As long as he keeps the piles in the bin, we get along just fine (grin) and when he doesn't, I scoop up his piles, and put them into the bin, then he knows nothing got thrown away and knows it's in there. And we don't fight. Ha!

 There are currently coupons we may want to use in this above holder (not shown) that we got at Goodwill for a couple of dollars. (Score!) I really need to use a windshield replacement one soon, and when I make the apt, I'll know right where the coupon is.
Wrapping paper isn't a standard command center thing, but for us, it is an office thing, so I included it since it's located next to our command center. These are the $1.50 Ikea bag holders.  They adhere to the wall but use command strips instead (trust me) and use a couple for storing your paper rolls. (Only keep wrapping papers you LOVE and will actually use.  So many people have way too many on hand which is pointless and takes up too much space. Edit those bad boys and only keep your faves!)

Also just basic, and not necessarily related to the mechanics of this post....  If it's ugly, hide or disguise it.  (Our family phone charging station hides behind the computer, on the small bookshelf which you may have noticed.) If it's pretty, showcase it.  Our pencils are pretty so they get a glass jar that showcases them. Make sense?

Someone asked me about all the chargers for an entire family's devices. Well...  There is no one size fits all.  Tons of solutions, depending on budget. Just find a gadget that charges many devices at night and try to hide the cords.  That's my best advice.  Real people live in real homes and we have cords.- especially when we're all home together.  Pinterest doesn't show cords but c'mon.  We all know better, right? (P.S. I don't hate Pinterest.  Well, mostly.) 

One bonus tip my boss does that I love, is label everyone's charger cords with their name and what device it works with.  Isn't that genius? Okay shoot me your questions in comments! 



  1. Love your system Sasha. Everything is so streamlined and calming, sigh! I like the idea of giving hubby a bin, I'm going to have to execute that this week. Have a blessed day!

  2. Your office space is looking so beautiful and calming!!! I love the command center!! I've tried the hubby bin thing, but unfortunately hubby ends up with more than can fit in the bin and doesn't find the time to deal with any of it. (womp womp) Maybe your next post could be a hubby streamline?? lol I love him but goodness!!! I need to come up with something that will work for him simply and quickly!

  3. It's wonderful! I like the bin for your husband's piles. I counted 16 piles in my husband's (upstairs) study last weekend! Drives me nuts. I'm going to copy that idea.

  4. Hi Sasha! Do you remember where you purchased your office chair? I am looking for one just like it! Thanks for the blog post, it is inspiring me to continue my summer long task to minimalism!