If there is one thing which will help get you organised it is creating a Centralised Home Headquarters and it is easier than it sounds. Up until recently our Home HQ came in the form of a large accordion file and a diary but after a bit of a furniture rejig (you may have watched my study/spare room tour here but it has since changed a lot since then – I’ll do an updated tour soon – let me know in the comments if you’d like to see that) and moved our bureau into our living room. The full piece of furniture now serves as the Thrifty Towers HQ. During this post I’ll be including some photographs and links to some inspirational ideas because I know we all live in different types of homes and have different needs.
Why do you need a Home HQ?
Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone in your home knew they could go to one place and find piece of information relevant to the home, their time and that day/week/month in one place? Rather than having notice boards in one room, a diary in the other and phone messages by the front door why not make it a habit to keep everything together?
What do you need to create your Home HQ?
- Note pad
- Diary/calendar – I made a list of some of the best free printable calendars.
- Address book
- Accordion file – you can find some really pretty ones for instance this one is lovely or a good old basic like this for under £5 which comes in various colours.
- Shopping list
- Meal plan
- Other items to consider
- Plastic wallets – these are the kind we use.
- Wipe clean white board
How to make the Home HQ work
1. Get yourself a diary, wipe clean board or even print some a calendar, I found some great ones here. Grab yourself a clutch of pens in a variety of colours and simply assign a colour to each person in the home.
2. Grab a basket/tray/folder or create a cubby for each of the following – Incoming mail, outgoing mail, to file and to pay. For the most part I suggest paying bills and dealing with mail the second it comes in the door but sometimes it just isn’t practical so file it away in these areas (which ever works best for your particular home) and deal with at the same assigned day of the week – every week.
3. Go through all of your insurance papers, MOT details, etc., find out the renewal date and place a reminder in your diary one month before the end of your policy.
4. If budgeting is an issue, draw up a monthly budget then break it down into weekly and even daily. Keep your budget in a prominent place within your Home HQ and balance your books quickly every day or week. You’ll soon notice a difference if you’re keeping yourself in check.
5. Check in with you Home HQ daily. Make it part of your routine just to have a look at what is going on that day and the next
6. Keep an ongoing shopping list in your Home HQ, that way both you and your partner can add to it at anytime and know the list will always be in the same spot unless it is in the shop with you.
7. To tie into numbers 5 and 6, keep a copy of your meal plan in your Home HQ, whether it is pinned to a noticeboard or slotted into the front of a clear folder. Everyone knows where it is and anyone can start the dinner and not rely on you!
8. Keep your spare keys neatly organised. We have our spare keys colour coded so we don’t have to label them with the room name etc., which could be a security issue.
9. If you have the room you can store your long term bills etc. in your Home HQ but if you don’t find a bigger folder and use it for long term bills and statements. Try to keep a maximum of 3 months bills, statements etc. in your Home HQ, you do not want to become overwhelmed by cutter and information you don’t need immediately.
10. Keep an updated list of all medication each member of the house is using. Mark dates for picking up new prescriptions in your diary and calendar.
11. Make a bold list of must have telephone numbers including work place, schools, doctor surgery, dentist, important family members, vets, local police station etc.
12. Keep a secondary list of numbers for things like utility providers, neighbours, the local council, your local MP etc.
13. Keep your diary or calendar updated with the important dates including birthdays, payment due dates, holidays, weddings etc. Always give yourself at least a 2 week reminder so you can buy gifts and arrange payments on time.
14. Anything you find yourself using, needing or referring to on a daily basis.
Other things to include in your Home HQ
You’re just starting out with your Home HQ so you want to include the basics and over time you can evolve your system but go slow. Don’t wade in attempting to include and categorise everything in your Home HQ. Make the basics work first then in a month or so then slowly add more things in.
Ideas for things to eventually include
Create a section which lists (and even samples) the paints or wallpapers used in each room. Such an easy reference system. If you have children who have dozens of activities going on, maybe keep a colour coded list of what needs to be in their bags on each day. You could even print out little pictures to go along side the words, that way even the smallest people in the house know what to pack. Make a folder for each member of the family containing medical details, prescriptions, details of all current medication. Should an emergency or accident occur you have everything in one place. You could be a total loser like me and keep a catalogue of your DVD and CDs. Yes, I really do that! We are comedy DVD junkies so have an insane amount stored in folders like this.
Whilst the folders mean we can reclaim our shelves it also means we don’t browse the shelves as before so I made a neat little list which we can flick through at ease. If you have pets consider keeping a folder or plastic wallet containing all of their information. Should an emergency occur you can easily grab it and dash. Obviously these can come in all kind of formats for different size homes, different needs and families or individuals. Here are some great online examples which may offer you some great inspiration. It can be very handy for reference to keep a sheet of paper which contains the measurements of each room, the measurements of each window on hand. The same goes for large furniture too. Keep all of your guarantees for electrical equipment and furniture stowed away in one pocket or folder and have another for their instruction manuals.