Sunday, March 13, 2011

Organization How To: Managing Mail

Yesterday a friend of mine told me that she spent much of her day just organizing the mail that had accumulated during the week. She felt frustrated because it was covering their dining room table and she spent much of a Saturday figuring out what to do with it all. I told her I would be glad to help her set up some ways to manage it, and I thought it might be good to list those ideas here as well.

OPEN YOUR MAIL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE It is amazing how mail will seem to grow if not taken care of immediately. I get the mail from our box as soon as I get home from work. within the first five minutes of being home I generally open all mail. If the mail sits there for very long, then other things get piled on top of it or you may get distracted with other things.

THROW JUNK MAIL AWAY IMMEDIATELY The City of Aiken has a curbside recycling program, so I put all junk mail and envelopes into the recycle bin immediately. The advertising circulars, unwanted catalogs, and other items, should not not even be opened if possible. Throw it away immediately in a recyle bin or the trash can. We also have a shredder, so I shred unwanted credit card junk mail before tossing it.

CATEGORIZE YOUR MAIL AND PLACE IN THAT AREA Other than junk mail, we receive bills, magazines, financial statements, catalogs, and the occasional, but welcome, personal card or letter. In most cases you won't be able to pay bills or read magazines immediately, so these will tend to stay in the same location that you open them, such as my friend's dining room table. Instead, you need to designate a separate place for each type of mail that you receive and immediately put it in that place until you have time to deal with it. I pay most bills online, so I have a file folder beside my desk where I place the bills until I am ready to pay them. I have a place in our den where I put the magazines I read and another place for my husband's magazines. Most catalogs go into the recycle bin, but I have a basket where I store the few I save. We also have a file folder for the financial statements and a basket for each person's personal mail.

It probably takes five minutes per day to do this and now our mail stacks are under control. But you say, I am overwhelmed and don't know where to begin. First determine your main categories of mail. Then figure out where to keep them and what sort of container for each type to use. Then start sorting. The first day or two it will take you longer, but soon it should be easy. If your spouse is not as organized, just volunteer for the mail job yourself and give him or her their own basket. That way, their stack should be minimal.

Happy organizing!

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