Month: April 2018

Getting on Top of Mail

Getting on Top of Mail

Getting on Top of Mail

We all have them, that pile of mail that you bring into the house and then stack on top of yesterdays, last weeks, sometimes last months mail. We all know each day we will find something in the mail box. The question is do you really want or need what is delivered to your house? And how do you organize the mail to eliminate the pile approach? I have one friend whose husband will pile the mail all over the kitchen counter. And believe me when I say pile I mean piles and piles, a year or more worth of mail. While I have another friend, who has the belief if I do not need it, I will not bring it into the house. He sorts the mail in the garage and immediately throws away everything that is not necessary before even walking in the door. Most of us are somewhere in between these two extremes. Below find a step by step way to get on top of your mail.

Dealing with the pile or piles already created:
1. Start by gathering ALL your mail into one spot.
2. Throw out any garbage as you come across it in your piles.
3. Recycle or shred any papers you do not need such as outdated flyers, empty envelopes, junk mail, coupons you don’t use, etc.
4. By completing steps two and three your pile should be considerably smaller.
5. Sort through your pile of paperwork to keep and group like items together (bills to be paid, paperwork to file, items to follow-up on, etc.
6. Take care of each category (pay bills, file papers, follow up on things. If you don’t have time right now, then set up a time when you will take care of it.
This should take care of the backlog of mail. Now, to keep it decluttered in the future, follow these simple steps:
1. Create a mail center somewhere convenient in your home. This center should have space for bills to be paid, items that need to be filed, items that need to be followed up on, a holder for coupons and promotional flyers you will use, and business mail if you operate a home business.
2. Throw out, shred or recycle EVERY piece of incoming mail that you do not need, as you bring in into the house. This means going through the mail and immediately throwing out all the junk, flyers, credit card opportunities, and other mail that is not important to you or your household. Believe it or not this is about 70 percent of the mail that enters your house.
3. Create a space for magazines and catalogs you will want to read at a later date. If you are like most people you may get catalogs which you know you will never use, recycle these immediately.
4. Organize your paper bills by taking them out of the envelope, read and immediately discard all flyers inside the envelope, and the envelope it came in. Put the portion of the bill that needs to be sent in with the payment and the return envelope in the bills to be paid section of your center. Place the rest of the bill in the to be filed section of your center. Some people like to pay bills as soon as they come in, while others like to pay them once a week, or once a month. I would suggest paying as many bills online as possible but I will caution against paying bills which are not a set amount by automatic payment. An example, I worked for a phone company at one time and my job was to dispute 900 charges on the bill. For people who had automatic payment this meant that the phone company took the total bill out of their bank and then offered the overpayment as a credit on their bill. This meant their money was tied up and not available for this month’s bills as they expected.
5. For items that need follow up you will need to decide when they need to be addressed. If it is an invitation for an event this weekend it will need to be followed up immediately, if it is a survey from a recent Dr. appointment it can be done sometime within the month. I suggest hanging a calendar above your mail center to place information such as events, upcoming sales you are interested in attending and appointments that need to be remembered. This way your follow up section will not become overwhelming.
6. Coupons which come in the mail may be useful for your house or not. Go through the coupon flyers and cut out coupons you know you will use. File these in your coupon holder. For restaurant and business coupons flyers decide if you are going to use them within the time they are usable and then either discard or file them in the coupon holder. Each week you will get store flyers in the mail. If you are someone who shops using these flyers create a space for them in your mail center but only keep them for the week they are good for. Once you sit down and create your shopping list discard them in recycling. I shop on Thursdays so I go through the flyers the same day they come in, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday, make my list and then recycle.
7. Set up a time each week to deal with paying bills, filing, and follow up activities. Reminding yourself that doing this activity once a week will make sure your mail center doesn’t start to look like your old piles of mail.
8. If someone else brings in your mail but you want to sort through it place a basket in your mail center but make sure you spent five minutes organizing it each day, you do not want to create a pile in the basket.

Good luck on decluttering your mail. You will feel so much better without the stacks of paper all over the house. If you have questions please feel free to email me at [email protected] and put decluttering mail in the subject line.