Paper clutter! I love organizing, but tackling paper files is my least favorite thing to do, since it doesn’t require any creativity. It’s just something that has to be done. Mail has become one of the hardest things for me. We didn’t have a designated area for our mail, so all the papers would just pile up on our kitchen counters, which drove me crazy. By the end of the week, it was just a big mess. I dragged my feet going through this paper trail and looking for things to file and bills to pay.
Something had to change! A system was needed!
1. Create a System
I have started making it a point to immediately sort new mail and to not wait until it gets out of control. Junk mail is tossed the second it arrives. The rest was sorted using the following 4 categories:
1. To Pay/ To Act On
After I go through our mail and open all the envelopes, I sort the papers by category. This “pay and act on” category is for my hubby :-). He gets up before everyone else and enjoys his coffee while reading news or paying the bills online. Once he is done, he puts the bills/papers into the “to file” or “to shred” category of our new organizer (see below).
2. To File
I try to do it once a week! And one day I will share our filling system with you.
3. To Shred
Shredding is my specialty! 🙂 If it were up to my hubby, we would file and shred our papers once a year. Speaking of shredding, if you don’t have a shredder, consider buying one. Don’t discard documents containing your personal information and account numbers by just tearing them up. Shred them. We have a cross-cut shredder, which is more secure than a strip-cut shredder.
4. Coupons and Magazines
This is my favorite pile. I love my coupons and magazines. I sort all of my magazines until I have time to read them. I like to keep them close to my bed because I like to read it before going to sleep. Also, I can never read anything when my girls are awake. 🙂 Once I am done reading, I like to hold on to most of my home and cooking magazines. I sort them by seasonal issues. Say I need some inspiration for Easter decor – all I have to do is pull out my “spring” folder and browse through some magazines. If I need to find some organizational cleaning tips, I can find them in the “spring” bin as well (e.g., spring cleaning :-)). I think you get the picture. I know I am crazy! But, hey, this method works for me. 🙂
Coupons! Who doesn’t love coupons?! Oh, I am not talking about grocery coupons – but clothing coupons and coupons from stores like Williams Sonoma, Create&Barrel, BedBathandBeyond, etc. I seemed to always be very good about clipping them, sorting them and placing them in a big Ziploc® for my trips to the stores, BUT I always forgot to take the bag with me. And, on the rare occasion that I remembered to take it with me, I ended up embarrassing myself at the register, by looking through the growing pile of coupons trying to find the most current one! Well, times have changed! You can read more about my coupon system here. I’ve been using it for almost two years now. Try it!
2. Designate a Small Station
Next, I wanted to designate a work/mail station that would hold a week’s worth of mail, but no more than that. We have a small workspace in the hallway, but I was afraid it would be out of sight and mind. I needed it in the kitchen as a reminder but not be constantly in my sight. 😉 Thankfully, I came across this clear triple file folder organizer on Amazon. It can be used standing, lying down or hung on a wall.
I chose to stand mine up against the fridge wall, next to our coffee machine. See, slightly out of sight but not completely out of mind. 🙂
3. Designated Time
Now that there is a designated area for our mail, I got into the habit of distributing the contents of my organizer into our filing system on a weekly basis. We said goodbye to missing deadlines and misplacing important papers.
We’ve been trying this system for just over a year now, and it’s been working for us.
I would say that going through your mail daily and avoiding the temptation to dump all the mail into one pile are the keys to making this system work.
I hope sharing with you how we deal with our mail will help you in your own home!