Every four years our attention is pulled to the U.S. presidency, but even as we work to keep the White House working on our behalf it’s important to remember how much issues decided closer to home can impact our day-to-day lives.

Get a clear picture of all the steps of government making decisions about your life from the highest level on down.

First, quickly and easily understand the three branches of government at the federal level with this handy page.

Most Americans will have two U.S. Senators and a U.S. Representative. They are elected every six years and every two years respectively. Find out who yours are using the search boxat the top right on the U.S. Senate page and the U.S. House of Representatives page. Add their contact information to your address book, particularly the local office phone number. You’ll want to use it frequently to make sure they know your stand on issues important to you. Also make note of when they’ll be up for re-election and if it’s within two years, start finding out what you’ll want to know to decide if you want to support them or an opponent in that election.

If you live in the District of Columbia or a U.S. Territory, your situation is different. Only the states have federal Senators and non-states are represented in the House of Representatives by non-voting delegates.

At the state level, you’ll want to get the information for your state governor and the members of the state legislature for your district.

Make sure you also get clear on your local representation—mayors, city councils, district or county supervisors, etc. Not only are they making important decisions that affect you, this is where future state and federal elected officials often get their start. By getting good people elected locally, you are helping supply the future with better government.

You can find a lot of your local information here in the National Association of Counties Explorer. There is also a local governments directory on USA.gov.

Here are more tips on calling elected officials and on creating a habit of calling your elected officials.