The Household Hub: Managing Personal, Professional, and Family Paper

Many families can relate to the over-burdened desktop, piled with a convergence of personal, professional, and family paper. With the start of school, the onslaught of incoming paper overwhelms many families (and their surfaces!) The Household Hub is an essential for busy families. This month on More Good Day Oregon, I helped a work-at-home-mom create a household hub and restore order to her desk.

Kara (our Communications Assistant) is a work-at-home mom with three young boys. Her desk was a landing strip for her work paper, mail and bills, kids’ permission slips and schedules, memorabilia, writing implements, and more. The convergence of life was landing on the desk.

Cluttered Household Hub

With the school year starting up, we wanted to get some solid systems in place to help Kara and her family manage the flow of paper and de-clutter their desk.

The first thing we needed to do was become detectives – we had to dig in and discover WHAT kind of things were landing on the desk. This is the first step in our organic organizing process. We go piece-by-piece and ask “what needs to Bankers box lids used for sortingbe done with this?” Not only do we identify WHAT each thing is, but we assign an action to each item. This step instructs how we establish systems later on.

One thing I love to use during a paper sort is banker’s box lids. They keep piles from merging and are easy to move to where the items need to go.


Another strategy I use is the “go elsewhere” box. In any Go Elsewhere box organizing project you will discover items that need to live somewhere else. Instead of getting side-tracked by trying to establish a system in a different part of the home to accommodate the nomadic item, just place it in a box clearly labeled “Go Elsewhere” to be handled at a later date. (And then schedule a time to actually make the stuff GO ELSEWHERE!)

What we discovered when we dug into Kara’s desktop is that there was a convergence of personal, professional, and school paperwork. Without a distinctive system to separate these types of paper, important documents get buried and forgotten.

We determined that Kara needed 3 different paper solutions. You can read more about the systems we established here.

Once these systems were in place we moved on to tackle the desk drawer. With three little ones (one being a toddler), Kara used this drawer as a hide-away for items that she quickly needed to get out of sight from her kids. We also discovered a lot of writing implements – including permanent markers that she needed out of reach, more memorabilia, and some electronics odds and ends. Many of these items went in the “go elsewhere” box as we established a purpose for the drawer. Instead of “catch-all” the drawer became “office supplies”. These are items that Kara (and her school-aged child) needs access to while working at the desk. Read more about how we decluttered Kara’s desk here.

Organized Household Hub

The result of this process was a beautiful desk space for an integrated life. Kara now has a station for her actionable items – to do’s, to pays, and to files, she has a project center for her work documents, and she has a family system. The family system includes a tray for kids’ papers that need to be processed and put into backpacks, a tray for things that she needs her husband to review, and a tray for the family budgeting system. We also used a letter sorter for the Household Reference Binder, planner, and work notebook that Kara needed at her fingertips.

Letter sorter used in a new way

These solutions help this work-at-home mom blend personal, professional, and family life in an ordered way. “I love it. I feel in control. I love that we have systems established so the things that are coming and going from the desk I know what to do with.”

Work-at-home mom at her household hub

Watch the segment aired on More Good Day Oregon below.


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