Take Control by Creating a Command Center

All month, we’ve been talking about paper clutter – from managing the influx of junk mail and bills, to our kids’ never-ending schoolwork coming home, to purging our home office files. Today, I want to tackle another area that many of my clients struggle with – the Home Command Center.

Having a Command Center is really a big key to being able to take back control of your household and make sure you run it efficiently. Why? Because it centralizes many of the key functions – managing mail, paying bills, returning signed papers to school.

You’ll find a lot of ideas on how to create your Command Center, but many of them are surprisingly complex. Complex generally = difficult to manage. In my opinion, your Command Center doesn’t replace your entire home office set-up, it’s to help you keep on top of the most critical functions.

I generally recommend no more than 5 categories:

  • To Pay
  • To Do: This Week
  • To Do: Next Week
  • Spouse’s Stuff
  • To Return To School
  • Coupons & Gift Cards

Most people find a vertical file sorter effective for them, so that each category is clearly visible. The selection is endless, so you can find one that meets your budget and style needs. Here’s a lovely white one with clean lines from SeeJaneWork that would work in almost any home.

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By labeling each tab, you create a home for each category and make keeping your critical actions near-mindless. You receive a Georgia Power bill in the mail? BOOM, drop it into the ‘To Pay’ file. Once a week, when you sit down to pay bills, they’re all there waiting for you. That means no late fees, which means your credit score goes up. Just by creating a home for bills, you’ve saved money and improved your credit score!

If you’re looking for something that blends into the background or that has a more modern touch, try this cool Russell + Hazel Acrylic File Box.

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Imagine this with files in your favorite color!

Regardless of the product you buy, the process is the critical piece. Create a home for each category. Label it clearly. Hold yourself accountable to schedule time to pay bills, complete those To Do items, and take back control of your home!

Do you already have a Command Center in your home? How is it working? What are your challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments?

Drowning in Your Kids’ Paper? Take Back Control!

Paper clutter is one of the categories I get asked about the most. Especially from parents who feel like they’re constantly battling the large quantities of paper that comes home with their kids. Homework, projects, term papers, artwork, permission slips, PTA memos – it never seems to end, right?

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Friday Backpack & Binder Review!

Regain Control!

One of the biggest keys to controlling ‘kid paper’ is to catch it while it’s coming in. Design a system that works for your family and stick to it. In our home, we set aside time every Friday afternoon to look through her binder and backpack to see what needs to stay, what can be trashed, signed and returned, etc. This does two things for us: it keeps the paper to only what’s needed as well as teaching her the essential life skill of how to organize – which can greatly impact your child’s academic success.

Clear Your Cache!

There are a few strategies I find helpful in dealing with the paper already in your home.

  • Set aside an hour each week to tackle the backlog. If you decide to do it all in one day, you’ll likely get interrupted, get frustrated, and give up. Paper takes about 5 times as long to sort as most people think.
  • Set up piles or boxes for Keep or Toss/Recycle.
  • Many parents find it a challenge to toss their kid’s artwork or schoolwork. So much of it seems sentimental. So imagine this scenario:

Your mom gives you a call, and you spend some time chatting. She then mentions that she has kept something important for you: 20 moving boxes full of your old schoolwork from pre-K through high school. Finger paintings, math quizzes, book reports from 3rd grade. She’s kept almost all of it. And now wants to give it all to you.

What’s your reaction to Mom’s well-intentioned offer? Every person to whom I’ve asked to envision that scenario tell me they’d be horrified that they’re now expected to take ownership of boxes on boxes of old papers from their childhood that they assumed had been tossed decades ago. I can’t imagine our kids’ reactions would be much different.

  • With the above scenario in mind, the best recommendation I have is to choose the very best examples as a representation of your kid’s schoolwork. Use something like an expandable binder or a filing tote – one tab/file folder per grade, so you can set a clear limit on how much to keep. That way, when your child is grown, you can hand over one manageable container with their report cards, achievement certificates, and the best of the best of their schoolwork.

Do you struggle with your kids’ paper? What aspect of it do you find the most challenging?

Products We LOVE: Cord and Cable Control Unit!

Call ‘em cords, call ‘em cables, most people I know call ‘em words I won’t use here. And as we continue to accumulate more and more tech gadgets, the more cords and cables we have. It’s a common complaint with clients, too, particularly in home offices.

Hence my love of the Cable Tidy Unit from D-Line USA. The Cable Tidy Unit is a plastic container specifically designed to house and hide all of those pesky cords – and the power strip, too!

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Now, isn’t that better?! It’s a bit difficult to see in the picture, but the unit is also perforated to allow heat to escape. It fits into any decor, and is also available in black.  The Cable Tidy Unit has two openings at the back to allow cord entry/exit.And since cords are contained, you eliminate tripping hazards, too.

D-Line USA also has a wide selection of cord and cable control solutions for TVs, gaming systems, and lighting that aren’t hard-wired into your home.

Fits into any decor, eliminates tripping, cleans up visual clutter. What’s not to LOVE?

Resources We LOVE: Just Trash It! Junk Removal Atlanta

Just Trash It! has been an invaluable resource for Clutterninja since we opened our doors. They’re a junk removal company, but they’re really so much more.

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Just Trash It! offers:

  • Prompt, trustworthy service from a locally owned company
  • Fantastic, responsive customer service – from first call to driving away
  • Service from roughly 30 mile radius of Dunwoody, GA
  • pick-up of donations and email of Goodwill donation receipt (on request)
  • hands-free service: just point to whatever you want removed, and they’re on it!

Another thing I love about Just Trash It! is that almost 60% of what they take gets recycled! The less in the landfills, the better, right?

So many people would love to get rid of that old hot tub, or leftover pile from a home renovation, but it’s big and bulky, and they’re not sure how to get rid of it. No problem here!

Lastly, trash removal has gotten more and more complex as the environmental restrictions and liability have become more restrictive. Just Trash It! takes on that responsibility for you. So you’re paying for not only a cleaner home, but peace of mind as well.

Resources We LOVE: Beverly Bremer Silvershop

I am a total magpie when it comes to sterling silver. If it’s shiny, I’m drawn to like a moth to a flame. But several years ago, I decided to sell my collection and followed a myriad recommendations to go visit Beverly Bremer Silvershop in the heart of Buckhead. And for good reason: boy, do they know about selling sterling silver! Just look at the shiny!

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Ooooooh, look at the pretty!

If you’ve discovered or inherited silver pieces that you need or want to sell, there is no other place to go. Truly. The staff (and Ms. Bremer herself) know as much about selling sterling silver as is possible, I believe. They are incredibly professional and will give you no less than fair value for any sterling items you bring them.

You can also use their website to identify a silver pattern or look for pieces to complete a set. Beverly Bremer Silvershop is located at 3164 Peachtree Road.

Products We LOVE: Low Vintage Basket from SeeJaneWork

Today, following our February theme of love, is the Low Vintage Basket found at SeeJaneWork, an awesome site with lots of unique organizing baskets and other products.

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The Low Vintage Basket is  one of our favorite organizing baskets for several reasons. One, the styling works with almost any decor from modern to farmhouse. Two, it’s reasonably priced ($34.00) for a sturdy steel construction and a roomy size (16″ x 12″ x 6.5″). And third, that size allows for a ton of different uses.

Use organizing baskets to hold towels and extra TP in your guest bath, to hold dog toys, to corral fresh fruit on your kitchen island, even to hold extra gloves and scarves in your hall closet or mudroom.

What are a few organizational products that YOU love?

 

 

Resources that We LOVE: Teresa & Artisan Custom Closets

This week, on our LOVE theme, we’re talking closets. And kitchens. And garages. And pantries. And Teresa Safranek and Artisan Custom Closets!

Teresa has been designing beautiful custom cabinetry solutions for over 12 years. Not only does she do beautiful work, but she’s known to be an energetic personality totally focused on her clients’ needs. (And I’m not getting paid to say that!)

So if you’re thinking of redoing a closet, pantry, garage, or even turn that spare room into a craft room, give Teresa a call at 770-318-9613 and let her know that Clutterninja sent you!

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Products We LOVE: The Blue Sky Paper Planner

February, of course, is the month of LOVE. So, I decided that here at Clutterninja, we’d have some fun and blog about products, resources, and organizing ‘hacks’ that we love, starting with this paper planner!

I’ve talked before about the decision to use a paper planner versus a phone app. Writing (vs typing) something helps cement it into my memory, so I’m a committed paper planner person.

Any of my clients will recognize this baby: my 8.5 X 11″ Blue Sky Weekly/Monthly Planner. One key feature I love about this planner is that it has both a two-page monthly grid AND a two-page grid for each week within that month. So I can schedule clients in the monthly grid and use the more spacious weekly grid for my action list for each day.

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The weekly grid – great for to-do list, errands, notes!

 

Blue Sky planners can be found at most Target stores, as well as at www.bluesky.com.

Are you a paper planner person or a tech user when it comes to managing your day?

A Clutterninja Client Testimonial

A Clutterninja Client Testimonial

“I am a very busy person with 3 kids (all teens), a house, a husband, and a big corporate job.  On top of that my husband and I own several rental properties.  I called Suzanne because I was getting more and more buried in piles of paper.  As organized as I am and as capable of running large strategic projects, I simply was not able to keep up with the paper at home.  Sometimes the answer is simple and logical but not easy unless you have an objective, experienced organizer to guide you and help you step by step until you get into the rhythm on how to do it yourself.  Suzanne did that for me and with me.  I really appreciate Suzanne’s no nonsense but gentle, hands-on approach and so will you.”

Aicha B.
Lawrenceville, GA