Fall always brings out the back-to-school spirit in me. Come September, I start to crave crisp, new notebooks, pretty file folders, and a pencil cup full of perfectly sharpened pencils of a uniform height. It’s this time of year, rather than New Year’s, that always seems to bring out the inner organizer in me, and I find myself drifting to the office supply aisle whenever I make a run to Target.
Life seems to move along so much more smoothly when my home’s “Command Central” is tidy and well stocked, and all of the Back To School sales this time of year make organizing this hub of my home a breeze. Wherever your Command Central may be – whether it’s an enclosed home office or just a corner of the kitchen counter – now is a fabulous time to spiffy it up, get some important dates marked on the calendar, and stock up on the supplies you’ll need to keep your year moving along in style.
I use the term “Command Central” to describe the spot in my home where I keep our calendar (yes, I still use an old fashioned paper calendar), our grocery lists, and my bazillion To Do Lists. It’s where I do the bulk of my letter writing, bill paying, and email checking, and where my family knows they can always find a working pen, pad of paper, postage stamps, and those little screwdrivers we need to put batteries in all of my daughter’s toys. In short, it’s where I keep all the little things that keep us going through the day. Having these frequently needed items organized and easily accessible truly saves me a lot of time on a daily basis.
Every household’s essential Command Central supplies will vary depending on that household’s members. Homes without toddlers may not go through the economy sized tubes of super glue the way we do around here, but there are some basics I’ve found myself reaching for again and again whatever phase of life I’m in. These include: blue or black pens, pencils with erasers, black permanent markers, paper clips, a stapler, post-its, business envelopes, a pair of sturdy scissors, college-ruled notepads, clear tape, glue sticks, and Forever postage stamps. I’m convinced that if forced, I could run a small empire armed with those office supplies alone. Throw in a surplus of computer paper and ink cartridges for the printer, and anything is possible!
In addition to office supplies, a calendar is critical to any well functioning Command Central. Whether you use technology to sync your family’s individual calendars online or you use the old-fashioned paper kind like me, it’s wise to get all of your activities, deadlines, and travel plans on the calendar in early Fall before the time-crunch of the holiday season is upon us. I also like to block out dates for my family’s favorite seasonal activities as early as possible. Every season, we make a “bucket list” as a family – a list of all the things we want to do in the upcoming few months – and it includes everything from apple picking to a family Bowling Night to watching “It’s a Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” Then I do my best to make dates for these adventures before the demands of the school year fill up our calendar with seemingly more urgent matters. Far too often, I find that if I don’t commit dates for these fun optional activities the way I would schedule a dentist’s appointment or a work meeting, the months race by before we’ve had a chance to enjoy the activities we love most. When you’re bogged down by long hours at the office, or the kids get discouraged by hours of homework, it’s encouraging to see all of the fun things to look forward to right there on the calendar – not just more “To Do’s.”
As a designer, I do my best to make sure the space for my Command Central is not only stocked and organized, but visually appealing as well. Go the extra mile and purchase some clear drawer dividers so your supplies are easy to find and pleasing to the eye. Devote an attractive vase or cup to corralling pens, keep your paper clips in a decorative bowl, splurge on a few pretty file folders, and pick a calendar featuring pictures of your favorite vacation destinations. Small as these details may be, using stylish supplies can make staying on top of your schedule and paperwork feel a little more fun.
Kitty Burruss is an interior designer, Type A organizer, and the writer behind the blog www.WestchesterDecorator.blogspot.com