Creating a Landing and Launch Pad Where There Isn’t One

Many of our homes were built around the idea of “everyone uses the front door”.  Larger entrance, coat closet, etc.  However, many of us do not come and go from that front door.   Last week, a friend asked if I could help with her new homes’ back door / drop zone / launch pad.  In her words,

  • there is no place for coats and bags;
  • the space is small and hard to manage;
  • adding in winter accessories like glove and hats makes the problem worse;
  • taking coats to the bedrooms makes no sense;
  • everything gets dumped at the door, and is now spreading into the kitchen; and finally,
  • “I’m gonna lose my crackers!”

Picture this:

  • The back door is where all five family members exit and enter.  
  • For scale, when the back door is open, it spans the entire width of the space.
  • The back door leads directly into the dining area in the kitchen.
  • The back door landing is a step down from the kitchen, and is the landing for the stairs going down into the nicely finished basement.

The family is quite organized, and they have done a lot to maximize the space they have while settling into this new (new to them) home.  There is a small set of hooks next to the door for keys, umbrellas and the dog leash.  There is a counter a few feet from the door where family members can drop their bags as they come home.   But they lack coat / accessory / bag storage.

We all may have an organizing challenge like this….

Often-used space that occasionally drives us crazy!

Spaces that every family member uses!

Spaces that can make or break our daily routines and flow!

Spending a little time and energy organizing these spaces saves us hours of headache (and yelling) in the future!

Here’s How:

State your purpose for the space. For my client, the purpose of the back door space may be “An attractive space that helps with timely and stress-free arrivals and departures”.   Once you state your purpose, Pare Down what is in the space to only the items that feed your purpose. My friend’s back door / landing pad space should be

  • geared towards a quick and easy transition, typically exit;
  • aesthetically pleasing;
  • as clutter-free as possible.
  • If you look at something, and you feel yourself frowning as you wonder “Who’s is this? Why is it here?  What were they thinking?”, those are all good indicators that something doesn’t belong in the space you are working on!

Once you know the Purpose of the Space, Look up and down and all around for storage solutions!

Keep it Safe!

Since this space is a heavily traveled walk way – in and out of the house and also up and down the stairs  – safety is very important.  Storage solutions will need to keep the walk way and stairs clear.  I will recommend coat hooks as solutions, but only on one side of the stairwell, to keep it as clear as possible.

Shelves, shelves and more shelves.

  • Any empty walls can be considered storage space.  To keep the walk way clear, I may recommend shelves high on the walls for baskets of accessories or off-season items.
  • Shelves, too, near the ceiling could hold decorative baskets with extra accessories, if needed.
  • Add shallow shelves above the command center in the kitchen, and add baskets for extra sunglasses, charging cords, and maybe one for each family member.

That Door Has Potential!   Consider the door itself in the organizing solution.  

  • Invest in an over-the -door coat rack; and / or
  • invest in an over-the-door shoe rack, for shoes but also for accessories; and/ or
  • if the door is metal, purchase heavy duty magnetic hooks for coats, like these…

Install some – okay, maybe a lot of – hooks:

  • Everyone gets a couple of hooks for their own bags and coats.
  • Consider key hooks, especially if any one shares a car.
  • Command Hooks are a personal favorite, too, for this type of challenge.
  • Double deck your hooks:  Consider installing two lines of hooks – the upper set (at eye level)  for accessories and keys, and the lower set, installed 6-8 inches below the upper set, for coats, umbrellas or longer hanging items.
  • Since my kids were little (and would take off with my car keys!), my handbag has been hung on a high, heavy-duty hook near the back door, with my keys securely clipped to it.

Expect and embrace maintenance.

  • I really wish I could say that once we organize a space, it will stay organized forever.  However… that is not typically the case.
  • Once a week, clear everything and put it away.   The shoes and coats will slowly migrate back to the landing / launch, but at least once in a while, the space is clear.
  • Keep an empty storage bench at the bottom of the stairs, for that day when you have a house full of people and you just want the space cleared!
To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
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Inarticulate Growls of Frustration About… Clutter!

It’s amazing, and a little appalling, that some days I find myself uttering inarticulate growls of frustration.  It happens regularly when I stand in my family room.  I growl at my wonderful and amazing family members (and myself).
Why?
The pile of discarded shoes I trip over in the middle of the floor ..9 inches from the shoe rack.
The blanket folded (yes), but left… On top of the trunk where it actually belongs.
Coats heaped on the shelf… Right beneath the coat rack.  (Sigh).
Today’s discarded clothes leaning against the laundry hamper.  On the outside.
My recent favorite?  The wet and snowy shoes NEXT TO the doormat.
Let me admit – some days I am part of the problem.  Last week, we all came home from an outing and instead  of waiting for everyone to get out of my way so that I could hang my coat on the hook, I dropped it on a chair to hang up later.
Luckily for my family, I understand why these close-but-not-quite efforts happen, and I also try to not yell too loudly because I may have to yell at myself, too.
But we don’t have to live with clutter, or grumble at ourselves or others, if we can keep these following tips in mind:
It is amazing what 10 seconds can do.  Seems small, right?  But it takes just 10 seconds to
  • hang up our coat, put our keys on the hook where we’ll find them when we need them, and tuck our shoes out the of way;
  • put the tools away in the tool box instead of leaving them out where they may get lost or forgotten;
  • put my cell phone on the charger instead of just on my desk;
  • put today’s mail in my in-box instead of in another heap on some different surface where it will get ignored and gather dust.
Create a habit of setting things right once or twice a day, and this goes for both our professional and personal lives.    Check your work space at the beginning and end of your work day, and put stuff AWAY to clear that mental clutter or to prepare of the next day.  At home, try to take a sweep around the house before bed, or maybe in the morning AND in the evening, to put rogue items where they belong.  And this is not a solo affair – get others to put their stuff away, too – the afore mentioned coats and shoes and stuff all get hung up.
Be on the look out for regular system breakdowns.  If you or co-workers or family members always struggle with a regular task, take a closer look.  Sometimes we just don’t like  or want to complete a task, but it also may be too complicated / hard / confusing for us or others.  We may need to change or re-assign the task to get it done.  I was recently in an office where filing tasks were never getting completed because the file cabinet was physically blocked by a dead printer graveyard.  The filing tasks would NEVER be completed until we removed and recycled those printers.
Few spaces are ever completely stuff-free, and that’s ok.  Know what Done, or at least Done-Enough looks like, and once you’re there, move on to something else.
Remember, every moment can be an opportunity to do better.  We can growl or grumble. We can judge others and ourselves harshly for not completing tasks or leaving a mess or getting distracted, or… We can take a deep breath and do better.  Even just a little better.   We can put things away, clear the mental and actual clutter, and move on to something else.
Have a great week.

Reclaim Your Entry Way, aka Where the Shoes Are

Second installment of Ask The Organizer, from my friend Victoria, via Facebook:

“How about the “cool weather drop and go”?  Where everyone who walks in the door takes of their layers and drops them on the floor or as they walk, in little piles all over the place radiating from the doorway?  Hats, shoes, coats, bags, whatever is in their hands…etc.”  I love that image!

The regular chaos at our back door drives my husband and me crazy, too.  It is a nice space, but with everyone coming and going and dumping and loading, it clutters quickly.  If your entry way clutters quickly too, here are three key components to consider when improving the “Cool Weather Drop and Go”?

#1:  Maximize Your Vertical Storage.

Climb the walls, hang on the doors, install shelves, and use under-furniture storage.   Look around your entry way.  If there is empty wall space or door surfaces, use them!   Make the most of this high-traffic area.

Did you know? A door is not just a door. It is a willing holder for an over-the-door coat rack or shoe holder. A door right next to our back door holds both. The OTD coat rack, with the highest hooks in the room, holds the adults’ coats and bags. On the other side of the door is a plastic OTD shoe holder that holds shoes plus cleats, shin guards, volleyball knee pads and baseball caps.

There are two other coat racks mounted on walls near the back door, at varying heights for my sons’ bags and coats.  And we even use low storage:  There’s a  canvas storage bags under my couch for rarely used cold weather items like scarves and boots.  Shelves, hooks, baskets, maybe even a snazzy and sturdy shoe tree like this one we just bought (Container Store, $30 well spent).  You name it – utilize your vertical space.  Climb the walls, hang on the doors, and go low.  Get Creative!

Image

#2:  Horizontal Staging Space

Every entry way needs flat space nearby, for lining up backpacks and other items to leave, and for unpacking bags as people come home.  The last thing I do when I leave is make sure the flat space is empty.  If it’s not, someone probably forgot to take something with them.  The flat space should be empty 90% of the time, waiting for folks to come or go.  Don’t clutter it with stagnant stuff; keep things moving in and out.

#3 Habits:  Habits and Routines maintain systems.

The Habit of Entry:  We have both a front and back door to our home, but I encourage my boys to get in the habit of always using the back door.  The garage is in the back, all the storage solutions like the coat racks and shoe holders are at the back door, and for safety sake I don’t want strangers driving by to see my sons using a key to get in the front door of an empty house.

The Habit of Stop and Drop:  A client suggests a stop sign right inside the door, for the kids to pause and take care of their stuff before going any further into the home.

The Habit of Daily Maintenance:  When I call the boys to set the table for dinner, I also require them to clean up and hang up their stuff. Homework goes back into backpacks upon completion. Sports uniforms and band instruments get lined up the night before. Total number of coats or shoes at the door per person is 2 coats or 2 pair.  Any more than 2 get put away in closets.

The Habit of Regular or Seasonal Purging.  Last week, I went through hats and mittens with a client, purging all the itchy or unmatched hats and gloves.  Always purge clutter at the end of a season, and put the rest away.  Soccer season ended last week, so we put away the cleats and shin guards until next time.  And the little guy’s cleats will not live to see another year, so they are in the donate bag already.  With colder weather on its way, I also went through summer hats, purged a few and put most away, and stocked the accessory basket with hats and gloves.

So, this week, how can you use Vertical Space, Horizontal Staging Space and better Habits to make your entry way more organized and efficient?  Well, Let’s Go!

Never Be Late Again!

Every organizing challenge we face requires time management to conquer it.  Improving time management skills creates good habits for using your time, either to add to current skills or replace old bad habits.   These four ideas will help create good time management habits and make life run more smoothly.

from makemesomethingspecial.co.uk

1. Did you know?  Americans waste 9 million hours total per day searching for misplaced items, according to the American Demographics Society.  That breaks down to each of us wasting an average of 55 minutes a day, roughly 12 weeks a year, looking for things we know we own but can’t find, according to a Boston Marketing firm (statistics from the NAPO.net website).

To Never Be Late Again, stop wasting time searching for stuff!  Establish a home for the important items that you CAN NOT leave home without, like cell phone or car keys, and commit to keeping them there while at home and at work. Invest in a bowl, make it pretty if you’d like, make it the same at home and on your desk, if  that helps you, and make it a habit to put your important items there every time you arrive home or to the office.  This will speed the leaving process and eliminate hours of searching.

2. Prepare to leave again as soon as you arrive home.  I re-load my briefcase with supplies at the end of every day when I am more likely to remember what I need, instead of waiting until tomorrow.  This idea works for personal lives, too – for example, we used to re-pack the diaper bag for the sitter as soon as we got home from work.   Create a check list, like “6 clean diapers, lots of wipes, 2 or 3 clean outfits, etc.”

Consider ambulance drivers and fire fighters.  They clean up and reload their rig after every call. Life is not an emergency, but it’s easier to be flexible when we know we’re prepared.

3. My next suggestion is what I call “next step-ping”.  I work through this process with clients –  today, look at tomorrow’s schedule and plan ahead now instead of reacting tomorrow.   Perhaps on tomorrow’s schedule I see a PTA meeting, a tennis lesson, then 2 clients back to back.  So tonight I leave my PTA notebook, my tennis bag and clean clothes and my briefcase by the back door to make tomorrow morning better.

I do this with my kids, too.  We look at today, starting with Now! and move forward: Eat breakfast, get bags to back door, review assignments, make sure lunch is in backpack, consider after-school extracurriculars, take something out of the freezer for dinner, etc.  We might even think about tomorrow, to avoid last-minute emergencies.

4. Finally, to Never Be Late Again, we need to understand and embrace the difference between Load Time and Leave Time (Confessions of a Tardy Mom, Parenting 2009).  Sometimes our time management issues are our own, and sometimes they are created by others, but most often they are both.  Over the weekend, I was talking to a professor friend.  I was pondering this presentation, and we chatted about time management.  She admitted she’s late to her own classes because she can’t make it down the hallway without being stopped.  So, other people interrupt her, which is their issue, but she allows the interruption to make her late, which is her issue.

     Let’s say a meeting is set for 10 am and is 5 minutes away.  In a perfect world, we could leave at 9:55 and arrive on time, but – alas – we do not live in a perfect world.  Load Time is rarely Leave Time.

     To Never Be Late Again, we have to start factoring in that extra 5 minute cushion to respect our time and the time of everyone else around us.  Personally, I need to realize one child will always have to run back in the house for something before we head to school.  Professionally, we have to realize that if the meeting starts at 10, we really need to arrive by 9:50 to network and prepare, instead of arriving at 10 and interrupting everyone else.

     IF you, too, have a difficult time getting to a meeting on time, set the alarm clock on your cell phone to chime warnings at 10 minutes, 5 minutes and 2 minutes to class time, providing a way to break out of unsolicited conversations in the hallway,.

             I can’t guarantee that you will Never Be Late Again, but trying one or more of these ideas will certainly help!  Give them a try, and let me know what you tried and what worked for you!

Did You Remember To Pack The…

This summer will find my family in multiple states and destinations.  And so begins the summer travel season!  Preparing for Travel can be a mixed bag, though, excited at the prospect of your adventures yet overwhelmed with the details of packing and unpacking.   One of the most organized and well- traveled people I know admits to having the “What did I forget to pack/bring” fear “every.single.trip”.   And I can empathize!

Vacation is about getting away, even getting away from our stuff, but some stuff really needs to come along.  How do you ensure it makes the trip?  Read on….

Standardized Packing Lists:

  1. Standardized packing lists are great tools to help you focus your packing efforts.  Looking for inspiration?  Do a google search for “Packing List”.  Here are some of my favorites:
  2. Over time, I’ve made a Klimczak Family Packing List.  I update it in the computer, and print it for family member use.  We’ve even laminated it, and used dry erase markers to chart our packing progress.
  3. Our packing list includes clothes and toiletries, of course, but also items like baseball mitts, game systems and chargers for the kids, travel snacks and work stuff for me.
  4. The boys have a packing list posted in their room, too, so when I tell them where we are going and for how long, they look at the list and bring the right things for the right number of days.
  5. Use a standardized toiletry packing list, too, and post it on the inside of the medicine cabinet door and in your toiletry bag closet, to ensure you don’t forget the small items!

Set Aside Things as you remember them, or at least Add Them To The List:

  1. Keeping your list in the computer allows for edits as you learn from every travel experience.  Tweak your standardized list as your travel needs change, your kids get older, etc.
  2. Keep a Trip Bag set aside for upcoming trips, and a folder for the same, either on your computer or in hard copy.  As you purchase or remember something for that trip (Father’s Day cards, gifts, beach towels, etc), or receive travel brochures or itineraries, put  them in the bag.  That way, all that is left to pack on travel day is clothes and toiletries.   We may have a couple of Trip Bags on the shelf, if we have more than one Trip coming up.
  3. You can also re-pack commonly used items as soon as you come home.  For example,
  4. Keep a set of toiletries just for travel, if you travel often.  The time saved is worth the extra expense.  We also always carry: An eyeglass repair kit, a  small sewing kit, a small first aid kit and 2 night lights.  I  used to pack an alarm clock, but now I just set  my smart phone alarm
  5. Carry one toiletry bag or shave kit for the whole family.  A friend suggested this one, and I have to agree with her.   If each family member packs their own kit, we end up lugging around duplicates of everything.  There are some items we can all share, like lotion, shampoo and conditioner.

Finally, Take a breath.  Don’t let fear or the need to be perfect keep you from enjoying your trip.

Ask yourself “What is the worse that can happen?”

  1. If the answer is “I might have to stop by a store once I reach my destination for sunscreen or tooth paste”, is that really so bad?  No.
  2. If the answer is “I forget my airline boarding passes or passport or the wedding gift or my notes for my speech”, then make sure to write those items down on your check list, and put them aside as you get them!

So, my challenge to you this week, whether you are traveling soon or not, is to check out the on-line packing lists or start creating your own.  In addition, pick a spot for your Trip Bag (ours is in the coat closet) and remember to toss things in the Trip Bag for upcoming travels.  And relax and enjoy your summer vacation!!

“Going Away” Checklist

Ask yourself:

What do you do every time you leave the house?  Run around like a crazy person, hoping you remembered to do everything….

What do you wish you had done, an hour into your trip?  Unplug the iron, set the DVR, water the grass, check the faucets….

What are some tasks that would make your getting-out-the-door go more smoothly? (insert your list here!)

What would make your coming-home more pleasant?  and Wouldn’t a standardized list of this stuff make the whole process a lot easier?

Of course it would!

One of my most often used and beloved organizing tools is a simple hand-written index card with a dozen or so task items written on it.  It is a standardized list of what I need to do to get the house ready for us to leave.  I laminated it early on, so that I could cross off the tasks as I accomplished them with a dry-erase marker and re-use the card.  And I have. Over and over again!

Whenever it is time to close up the house for a while and leave, for either a quick over-night trip or a 2 week vacation, the list remains the same. The tasks take an hour (uninterrupted) to complete, and then I can leave the house with a clear conscience.    The biggest motivators for creating the “Going Away” checklist were:

1. Clarity of thought, just in case I am leaving in a rush or for an emergency;
2. Safety, above all;
3. Energy and resource economy; and
4. Avoiding pests like ants, gnats or mice.

Here is the List: “Going Away”:

Kitchen:

  • Clear the fridge, toss left overs, Freeze what can be frozen
  • Refrigerate what can be refrigerated (fruit bowl or bread on the counter)
  • Wipe down surfaces
  • Lock stove door, make sure burners are off
  • Turn off the coffee maker timer
  • Wrap up the dishes, start the dishwasher and run the garbage disposal to clear it

Pets and Plants:

  • Dog: Plan or Pack up her stuff (when we had a dog)
  • Fish: Vacation Feeder pellet, or a plan for someone to watch them
  • Gerbil: Check water and food levels, or have a plan for someone to watch them
  • Plants: Water all, including the garden

House

  • Bedrooms: make beds, laundry to hamper
  • Close and lock all windows, pull shades in bedrooms and family room
  • Vacuum all
  • Turn up / down thermostat
  • Turn off / unplug computers
  • Take out the trash
  • Final walk through for safety and water check, making sure things are turned off or unplugged

So, my challenge to you this week is to Make Your Own “Going Away” check list.

  • Sit down with a pen and paper, and note all the tasks you tend to do to get ready to go.
  • Be an objective observer the next time you are getting ready to travel, and figure out if anything needs to be added to your Going Away Checklist, or subtracted, if it is not really important.
  • Most of the tasks on my list can be shared or delegated to my kids, too, and help is always welcome!
  • The order of my tasks is important, too, leading from one to another in a logical fashion, the path I walk through my house.

So, spend a little time now to make your next departure go smoothly and your next homecoming more pleasant.  What does your list look like?  Please share!  And safe travels!

Are You Drowning in Kid Papers?

      A friend recently stated she was “Drowning in Kid Papers”, and I know we all feel that way some days.  So let me lend a hand and pull you out of your paper flood!  

     There are 3 kinds of papers:  Archival, Passive and Active.  Most of those Kid Papers bogging you down are Active Papers.  Active Papers require a next action and soon!  They are items such as permission slips to complete; a party invitation that requires a phone call, and then a trip to the store for a gift; coupons to take shopping and redeem;  and bills to mail, etc. 

     How do we get to Act on these Papers?   Decide on One and Only One place for these papers to live.  In our house, the active papers live on the kitchen desk (our Command Center).  They live in Only One Place because that makes acting on them a lot simpler!   And This One and Only One Place is also where all papers land when they come into our house, either via our mail box, backpacks, work briefcases, etc. 

  1. Use the Steps from Julie Morgenstern, Organizing From the Inside Out:
  • Sort and Purge – Make purging easy:  What can go now?  Trash?  Shred? Recycle?
  •      Complete forms and put right back in the backpack (we keep envelopes and small $$ in the desk drawer)
  •      File school papers right away. 
  • Sort the rest into Active, Passive and Archival papers
  •       Put away passive and archival immediately
  •       These are Active papers, so sort them by action:  Calls to make, Forms to complete.  Or, Sort them by when you want to Act on them, By Day:  I have a file for each day, so if I have calls to make, I’ll tuck all those reminders in this week’s Thursday file, when I know I will have an hour at home to make the calls.  Or, The Best idea:  Act on them RIGHT NOW, if you can, and move them along.
  • Assign a Home / Containerize:  Have a work space the whole family knows about, and if it tends to be a kitchen counter, so be it.
  • Equalize (Means Maintenance):  Regular maintenance is vital to any paper management system, so plan to act on your Active Papers every day or two, and to look at your Passive Papers every month or two.  Purge the information that is no longer important to you or that is about events and seasons now over.  Every Friday we clean out backpacks and folders, with my sons standing next to me.  We use four categories: Papers for Mom to Act On, Recycle/Toss, File (keep) and Homework to Complete. 

       Here are some examples of files on my kitchen desk, use them as inspiration to create and name your own files:

  1. “To File – Child’s Name” files, one for each child. I fill this file during the week as backpacks come home with papers, then file the items in a bin on each child’s closet shelf when I clean house (every week or 2)
  2. “Academics – Child’s Name” file, one for each child, for quarterly assessments, certificates, awards, etc. throughout the year.  These become part of their Archival records in their binder.
  3. Kids Activities: Current team rosters and contact lists, receipts for paid fees, raffle tickets, etc.
  4. Kids (Possible) Activities (for ideas when they come in the back packs or mail)
  5. Kids Extra Pix (pictures people give us through the year, extra school photos)
  6. Kids Religious Education (handbooks, general information)
  7. Kids Music (handbook, repair information, copies of completed sign ups)
  8. Kids Gifted Program (handbooks, overviews, resources)
  9. Kids Boy Scouts (contact information, handbook and yearly info)
  10. Kids Service (ideas for service projects, things to do)
  11. Kids School (handbooks, schedules, Principal notes and newsletters, sick child policies)

I also have a file holder on the desk, for general Family files.  All of these are accessible to all family members.

  1. Family: Adventures (ideas for places to do and things to do, parking passes, free day passes, etc.)
  2. Family: Events (guest lists for RSVPs; info or permission slips from venues, menu and party ideas for upcoming events)
  3. Family:  Home Improvements (ideas like paint colors or new front door brochures; active bids for projects, info on a new couch)
  4. Family:  Memberships (membership cards and literature for aquarium, zoo, museums, etc.)
  5. Family: Menus and coupons (take out and catering menus, along with coupons and such)
  6. Family:  Recipes (finally, some place to toss all the recipes I grab out of magazines, in a place where I can actually flip through and try them out!)
  7. Family:  Travel (travel info and packing lists for upcoming trips, accessible to me and my hubby, file goes on vacation with us)
  8. On a clip above the desk, we have upcoming event information, in reverse chronological order.  These are just for information purposes, Actions have already taken place:
    1. Invitations I have already responded to
    2. Newsletters from the library, with events I have signed up for circled or initialed
    3. forms to be turned in, like registration, with the due date noted on top
    4. Look ahead to tomorrow’s schedule

      Archival Papers are those items worthy of Long Term Storage, For example: mortgage papers, wills, passports, birth certificates, etc., and annual tax papers (for 4-7 years).  We store archival papers in small and movable labeled bins (not too big), file cabinets, or bankers boxes.   Archival Kid papers could be Keepsakes and treasures from each school year.  A great way to store those are Binders (a separate blog published 2/20/2011)

     Passive papers will most likely not be needed or retrieved except for disposal.  We keep them for a pre-determined amount of time and then discard.  Passive Kid Papers include: Completed everyday assignments and art projects; Yearly school handbook; contact lists for teams, or schedules and calendars (after we input the information into our date book / PDA of choice).   Here are a couple of ideas for How to take care of Kid Passive Papers:

  1. Short term – Open file holders on the desk or counter top, see above for suggestions 
  2. Monthly “Reminder”  files – a file for every month, for upcoming events, reminders, deadlines, etc. more than a month away (birthday party ideas and gift ideas are great to pop into monthly Reminder files).
  3. Also, if your young Picasso’s artwork and projects are gumming up the works, keep a few from year to year, or save them all to review in June, after school is over, and have your child pick their top 10.  Or, take a photo of the artwork or project, and print up and keep the photo as a memory (then you can toss the big cumbersome original)

     So, friends, if you, too, feel like you are “drowning in Kid Papers”, consider this your Life Preserver!  Spend a little time setting up your space to manage the deluge, and then spend a little time every day maintaining, or “staying a-float”.   Peace to you – Colleen

Soar to New Heights: Your Landing and Launch Pad

The next step after setting up your Command Center blog is working on your “Landing and Launch Pad”.

Your Landing and Launch Pad:

  • Is the flat surface near a door where you drop your stuff and bags when you enter your home and pick them up again to take with you when you leave;
  • Is crucial to your success in arriving at destinations on time and prepared; and
  • Is one organizational project that will improve your life immediately.  

Why do you need a Landing and Launch Pad?

  • We come and go from home daily, often multiple times! At Klimczak Central, 5 people come and go, to and from many destinations and events.
  • Assign a Home to your necessary items (like backpacks, briefcase, keys and cell phones), corralling them in one location.  Eliminate the last-minute scramble on the way out the door!
  • You probably have a L/L Pad already, but maybe you haven’t given it much thought.  This is your chance to consider your stuff and space, and make both work better for you!

What belongs on a Landing and Launch Pad?

  • Essentials like backpacks, briefcase, keys and cell phones
  • For Launch
    • Shoes, coats and accessories
    • Boots, gloves and hats in winter
    • Umbrellas, sunscreen, ball caps and sunglasses in summer
    • Activity Accessories:
      • For Example, Bags for Soccer with shin guards and uniforms; a bag for Band with music and instruments, etc.; and the bags to go to Choir with me, Cub Scout meetings with us, etc.
  • For Landing:
    • A place to hang your keys and empty your pockets, an envelope for receipts, a jar for loose change, and a shallow bowl for your pocket contents
  • Time between Landing and Launch:
    • Phone chargers and a surge protector
    • Stock items for purses, backpacks and diaper bags, like our stash of small snacks, tissue packets, chap stick, band-aids, anti-bacterial lotion or wipes

 Where should a Landing and Launch Pad be, and what does it look like?

  • Just like your Command Center, let function dictate form.
  • Choose one door as your main entrance, and funnel all the family through there so stuff doesn’t end up all over the house.
  • A L/L Pad near your coat closet is a great idea, but not always feasible, for example our coat closet is at the front door, and our L/L Pad is at the back near the garage door.  We just limit the number of coats out at any time to 1 per child, and 2 per adult.
  • We set a 2-pair shoe limit per person at the L/L Pad to cut clutter.  Extras are stored in bedroom closets.  This time of year, we see boots and sneakers, and sneakers and crocs in the summer.  (I am the worst offender of the 2 pair rule, but I am working on it!)
  • To encourage participation, consider each family member.  For example, my youngest son has a row of hooks for his coat and backpack at his eye level, and he’s great about hanging his stuff there!
  • Use vertical space – coat racks, baskets under benches, over-the-door shoe organizer with pockets for shoes, of course, but also seasonal accessories like gloves and mittens, or umbrellas and sunscreen.
  • We keep it basic.  A bench for staging bags and for putting on shoes, hooks for coats and bags at varying heights for all of us, a basket for extra hats and gloves, and a large rubber (waterproof) mat for boots and shoes.

As with any Organizing Endeavor, maintenance is critical to your Landing and Launch Pad:

  1. Pick a spot for your essential items and stick with it.  Label it, if that helps.  But ALWAYS USE IT!
  2. Give each person assigned and labeled space (e.g. a hook or two, a cubby or basket, even a magazine holder on a shelf) for their Launch stuff AND USE IT!
  3. Re-pack bags immediately upon returning home.
  4. Keep only current season (weather and sports) items in your Landing/Launch Pad, to cut confusion and clutter.    There is so much activity there, it is essential to keep only the stuff you really need.

Invest a little time and thought (and perhaps a little money) this week, and set up your Landing and Launch Pad to make your comings and goings run more smoothly!