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The Secrets To Sorting & Organizing Your Mail

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By on Apr 15, 2019
The Secrets To Sorting & Organizing Your Mail

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Home organization is such a big deal today. As if you need me to remind you of the giant stacks of papers on your kitchen island and atop your desk! But, you and I aren’t the only ones. Organization and organizers are a national phenomenon, just look at hot commodities like professional organizer Marie Kondo. Our need for ideas and for people like Kondo to get us organized stems from a desire to pack more fun into our already busy lives.

But hey, there is nothing wrong with wanting to live as much of life as we can each and every day. The only problem, it can lead to neglect of some of the necessary day-to day-must do’s like cleaning up and staying organized. Tackle the Mount Everest of mail and papers before it becomes an avalanche. Here are a few tips for organizing those stacks that are taking over your home and stealing your peace.

Sometimes the solution to life’s necessary duties is hiring someone to take something off of our plate, like someone to clean once a week or even to get you organized. Let ImproveNet help you find a cleaning pro in your area, for free!

Start Organizing Your Mail

Some tasks, like organizing your mail and papers, may make you feel like you need to get organized before you hire an organizer! Getting started is probably one of the toughest parts of the process, but with these quick and simple solutions to organizing your mail and papers, you will be doing what you really want to do this spring like climbing a mountain, shopping the end of winter sales, or simply enjoying that Adirondack chair in your backyard.

One of the best places to get started is in your home office. If you are like me, until that home office is organized, you have nowhere to put those mounds of mail that have been stacking up. The best home office is one that is free of clutter and full of functional space. One’s office has to be organized and has a relaxing and productive feel—a comfortable chair, good light, free from distractions. Another big step that Kondo and colleagues agree on is the need for a purge. 

Minimalism is the order of the day for your office. While I’m a sentimental person who loves mementos, I try to keep them to a minimum in my office because I need to feel focused. That includes the office supplies like the giant stapler, the hole punch, and that useless paperweight that haven’t been used this year, or even this lifetime.

Divide & Conquer

Once you have decluttered and purged your office space, take a deep breath before you tackle the Mount Everest of papers. Now, press on…  Organizers recommend gathering every paper you own for this mass dissimulation of paperwork. Once you have everything together, it is important to divide it into piles. Because this is a mass exodus of clutter, each piece of paper will be put into one of two piles first. Categorize paperwork into an absolutely necessary and an unnecessary pile. Be a ruthless savage expunger. If you keep every discount coupon, old ticket stub and receipt you will be chasing your tail. 

Once you have two piles, you have to get the right tools in order to start the next step. You have the absolutely necessary pile that needs tending to; you will need storage: a filing cabinet, a magazine file boxes, paper file boxes, color folders, whatever works for you. You need a file system with three labeled spaces:

  1. "Needy" Papers: the bills and the forms that need you to work on immediately, daily, weekly.
  2. "File Me" Papers: these are the short term papers that you need to keep for the next three months to one year. This could include tax work, warranties, and more. I advise you to get colored (maybe yellow) file folders that distinguish these as semi-important.  A portable file box is always nice because you can move it around and eventually put it in storage if you don’t have a filing cabinet that is handy.
  3. "Forever" Pile: these are things that you have to keep forever and range from important things like birth certificates and loan paperwork to your kids' artwork.  File folders in red that indicate these are important and “untossable” can be a helpful visual cue.  Also, a large rectangular tub for your child’s most precious art will help you to keep those treasures without cluttering your home.

Think Green

Staying organized is key once you get on top of things.  First of all, recycle the unnecessary pile and get a recycling bin. Putting a small recycling bin in your coat closet, or wherever you enter the house with your mail, may seem a bit strange, but you will be surprised at how often you will use it. Not only can you do a quick sort of absolutely necessary mail and recycle junk mail when you come in, but you can also recycle the plastic bottles and Lunchables boxes left in the car by your kids.  

Along with the recycling bin, you have to have a place for “absolutely necessary” mail like a wall organizer wherever you enter your home; it is a place where you can put the necessary mail (not the kitchen counter) for the time being until you can get it resorted into the appropriate places. 

Mail Maintenance

Now, finding the time to organize the mail, those absolutely necessary pieces, is also a key to the “staying organized process.” It’s crucial to select one day a week or if you’d like to do it daily, go for it, but you need a designated consistent time to sort that pile and to handle any necessary actions that the papers demand. Making it a habit is key to staying on top of the task. Once you get organized, you may also find that you can delegate the sorting process to someone you hire—wouldn’t that be lovely! 

The mountain of paperwork may seem insurmountable right now, but after you have started the climb, you will find that reaching the peak is not far off.  And once you have conquered the mountain of mail and papers and have a plan for staying on top, you can spend more time enjoying the things you truly love doing in life, like climbing that real mountain. 

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