your command center

When my dear friend fell and broke her wrist, we all hopped too. Rides, laundry, house cleaning, meals, and check-ins. During one of our calls, we went over the usual pre-surgery standard logistics checklist, including: Who is picking you up? Does the pharmacy have your post-surgery meds? And the quintessential question: Do you have enough soup?

Then, I asked her, “Where is your command center?”

She said, “Huh?”

I repeated the question.

She said: “I must really be out of it; I have no idea what you are saying.”

I had to rephrase: “When you get home from the hospital, where will you set up everything you need?”

She said, “My bedroom upstairs.”

What Is a Command Center?

I launched into a diatribe about her choice of command center, explaining that it is the place in your house where all activities emanate from. Not just where you are comfortable because hopefully, all of your house is comfortable. It’s your go-to sitting place. It’s where your most used items are within each.

The seat that gives you the best view of what you like to look at, be it your kitchen, your garden, a painting, your bookshelves, the window. It’s your favorite view. Usually, a central convenient location to access all other items and rooms, which is not your bedroom, although a secondary post is often a necessity in the boudoir.

Taken from military operations, it is a central place for your operations, tasks. Basically, it’s your headquarters. It is often said that the kitchen is the heart of the house. If so, the command center is both the brains and the veins that make the system run.

I, Too, Have a Command Center

In my house, my command center is on the sitting side of the kitchen peninsula. The smooth white countertop is almost three feet wide and wraps in a U-shape around my entire kitchen, tethered to the rear wall of my house next to the back door. That corner is out of the way for most of the necessary real estate in the kitchen as discussed in this post about choosing an air-fryer.

An old, worn pale-yellow coffee can from Café Du Monde in New Orleans, filled with my favorite felt tip pens, scissors and tools I use, sets the tone. Snuggled beside the can is a hot pink scotch tape dispenser in the shape of a seriously high heel, that my daughter gave me, reminding me of how I used to prance around.

Cozying up to the shoe is the best small purple plastic stapler I have ever had. With one corner tucked behind the coffee can is a small 6”x4” black frame. Inside are gold moons progressing from a sliver to a full sphere. Wispy writing says: “It’s just. A phase.” A much-needed reminder that nothing lasts.

Why I Chose That Space

From my favorite seat, straight ahead I see the interior of my kitchen. When I turn to the left, at the end of the great room I see through the front window to a mountain that has gold and orange-pink sunsets. With my back to the breakfast bar (the peninsula), I see my evergreen rich yard, reaching up to the sky. And when I turn again, my screened-in porch and the fire pit beyond and the swamp with mossy fallen trees are in my sightline.

I write from this spot, hold all my virtual meetings, and eat almost all my meals. Actually, four people fit easily on the peninsula. I drink my morning coffee, manage my mail and paperwork with extra stamps, envelopes, and bills in a hidden drawer under the countertop.

Why Does It Work for Me?

Well, it’s a countertop height bar, so I get to sit on a barstool all day and never have a tab to pay! The barstool lets my feet touch the floor, given my short under 5 feet stature, and I can just sit down and not have to hike my hip up or cling to the back of the stool to get up and on. The stools are wooden and have a back that supports good posture and engages my core.

 It’s where I sit most often.

Why Do I Need a Command Center?

The real question is why don’t you realize you already have one? Particularly as we age, we are used to having an office outside of the home or in a separate room. It’s been over 10 years for me since I went into an office. Now that I live alone, I don’t need to trudge upstairs to my office, to be surrounded by all my books and files, and keepsakes. Sure, I am two stories higher, and the pine trees look even prettier, but that surrounding view in my main room is the real deal.

Sometimes, our command center needs to be modified. Such as during an illness or recovery from surgery or an injury (my piriformis loves to annoy me), to avoid stairs, reaching and to get some privacy. This happens when we have guests for expanded periods or when we travel. Finding a place that you can set up that helps you to get into the zone, to do what needs to be done is the essence of your command center.

The trick is to figure out the minimum items and space requirements you need to be productive. Productive, you say? That is to get done whatever you like to get busy with. It can be catching up with emails, writing, volunteer or paid work, life administrative tasks (bills, household), planning trips and projects. The “big idea” is that you have what you need in arm’s reach.

How Do I Know if It’s the Right Spot?

Claiming your command center is like finding the right home, car, or dog. You will feel it. You will be at peace. You are centered in your own world.

During COVID-19, I called my daughter and told her I was moving to the other side of the island. She said, “Mom, wow! Where, when? You didn’t even talk to me about it.” I said, “Honey, I can take you there now.” I swiveled the computer around and walked the couple steps to the rounded edge of the island, now with my back to the kitchen. The view was fabulous, 180 degrees of windows and woods and sky.

It worked for a while, like a standing desk, but then when I needed to sit, the overhang wasn’t deep enough. The drawers had silverware and other kitchen supplies. It took too much work to reach the pens and tape and too much trouble to push them back when I needed the counter for cooking. It took minimal effort to move back to the other side of the island. That was not my command center, although it’s nice to visit now and then.

What Are the Essentials of a Command Center?

A seat that doesn’t make your body ache if you sit there for more hours than anticipated. A surface to rest your computer or device and, of course, your phone. Given that we live in the 21st century, no command center is complete without a multiple plug charging station and in my case, a ring light and platform for when I am a podcast guest, have to record a video story, or am speaking on a virtual event.

The true test of your command center is your determination of what you need and what form it takes. My list is so simple and still, it has my personality in it.

  • Old tin coffee can with multicolored flairs, scissors, and pencils and a universal screwdriver.
  • Tape dispenser.
  • Stapler (Pro tip: better choice than paper clips, does both functions.).
  • Inspirational artwork.
  • Charging station.

Sometimes seasonal items are necessary, or special project materials. These include tax forms, holiday cards, and committee, volunteer, or work projects. I usually put them in a plastic envelope folder, so they don’t take up space and sit there indefinitely. I keep them close by (your command center must have that functionality) out of sight, in my credenza when I don’t need them – the nearby clause.

What’s Next?

Claim your command center. Outfit as necessary. Sit still, smile, and be productive. You are in charge. After all, it’s your command center.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you have a command center? Where is it? How often do you use it? What are your command center essentials? How have you personalized your command center space?