The old saying the kitchen is the heart of the home. still holds true, but today’s kitchens are also central command for many families. In most homes the kitchen is not only where we cook and eat, but where we pay bills, open the mail, leave messages, answer the phone and keep the family schedules and calendar. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a home office, chances are your kitchen counters are still home to a whole lot of papers. In a few simple steps you can clear off your counters and make a kitchen command center.
Begin by sorting all the paperwork laying around the kitchen—bills, catalogs, magazines, permission slips, appointment cards etc. . . Recycle or throw away things you no longer want or need and sort the rest into piles. For example, bills in one pile, appointments in another, kids’ papers in another. Any important papers such as birth certificates, passports or mortgage papers should be placed in a labeled box and put in another room.
Next, choose your location. If possible locate your command center away from the area most used for food prep. A little bit of counter space may be enough, but if you can clear a small cupboard or drawer as well it will work even better. Once you decide on a spot, remove all the “kitchen” items from the area.
Hang a dry erase, magnetic or cork board above the counter to post messages or just put a notepad and pen on the counter. Place extra pens, pencils, a pair of scissors, a stapler, paperclips, stamps etc. in a caddy. Label individual colorful file folders or an accordion file in the way that works best for you. For example, bills, receipts, notes, homework and/or a file for each family member. Store the files in a vertical or horizontal file holder, whichever works best for your space. Hang the family calendar and schedule on the inside (or outside) of the cabinet above your command post.
It’s important to get the whole family to use your new command center for messages and notes. Remember to flip through your mail as you’re walking into the house and toss unwanted magazines and catalogs into the recycling bin. Open the rest of the mail at the command post and put everything in its proper file (or toss it) before it can clutter up your kitchen.