As I mentioned before, it’s hard to believe…but summer is winding down in my town. We have just over three weeks to go! Needless to say, back-to-school is back on my mind! I’m ready to kick it in to high gear. Yes, I’m still drinking in the joys of summer, but I also have some fun things planned over the next few weeks to help us all get ready for back to school.

Now if you don’t have school aged kids to get ready, you can still join in the fun. Back-to-school is a great time of year to get back to order, back to routine and back to the comfort and joy that order and routine bring to your life. So when you’re ready to get back to order, come here for ideas and inspiration to get you started! By the way, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for my newsletter, because you’ll find even more back-to-school ideas there.

Alright—let’s kick it off by talking about the family message center, sometimes known as a command center. Here’s what’s included in mine:

1. Magnetic chalk boards.

Magnet boards

Our message center includes one magnet board for each family member. We record daily chores and to-dos on the kids’ boards, and it will be a great place to jot down assignments and reminders once school is back in session. I use mine for family to-dos. I keep my main calendar and to-do list in my office, so the chalk board helps me keep personal errands and to-dos in sight and in mind when I’m out of the office. Chalk and washcloth-turned-chalkboard-eraser lives in IKEA pots close by.

File basket

2. Home management binder.

This binder (shown in photo above behind basket) keeps all sorts of family reference paperwork handy yet organized and out of sight. Essential items like carry out menus, phone directories, team sport schedules, the classroom schedule and procedure info sheets, etc. all live in our family’s home management binder. (If you want more info on setting up a customized reference binder like this for your home, this topic is covered in the Paper Clutter Online Class, or you can DIY using the instructions included with the Home Management Binder Mini Class.)

3. File basket and file folders.

Both of my kids have a file folder labeled with their initial. These folders hold short term reference items—things that don’t make sense to take the time to slide into a sheet protector because we won’t be holding onto them very long. Items like the weekly spelling list or the guidelines for science fair projects will be tucked inside each child’s folder. Also in this basket are pens and pencils, store shopping coupons, and right now, the summer 2009 folder, which has info for camps and other activities that are going on this summer.

C and K folders

4. Family calendar and menu plan.

I use a large family calendar to keep track of the kid’s activities, due dates for school projects, school holidays, and so on. This lives nearby on the refrigerator, which is also home to the weekly menu plan and a running grocery list.

Command center

Does your family have a message center? How do you organize yours? I’d love to hear what works for you and your family. Thanks for sharing!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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