Ahhh, the mail. Not very fun when you are an adult, is it? Unless you start ordering freebies, then it can be fun from time to time.
There are bills, bills and more bills. Catalogs galore telling you of all the amazing things you need to want, that until you got the mail, you probably did not even know existed. Then there are surveys, things to sign the kids up for and well, you get my point.
What do you do with your mail? Does it accumulate into a giant pile on your table or counters? Maybe on a desk somewhere; to be ignored until you tear through the pile in a panic trying to find something you are late taking care of?
All this incoming stuff causes stress. So, before can really get organized in the rest of the house, its useful to deal with the stuff that is coming in on a daily basis.
I once read advice from a successful CEO. She said, “Never touch your mail twice.” Not always possible, but great advice. What it means, of course, is put it where it belongs right away and be done with it. Going through the mail or piles of mail over and over is a big time (and sanity) thief. When you are going through your mail, you need a place to put bills, a place to put paper from the mail that you can recycle and a place to put things you will need for future reference.
When I get the mail, I sort through it and recycle anything I do not need or want – credit card applications (I tear these first or let my kids shred them), catalogs, brochures and flyers, the inserts that come with bills and any outer envelopes that I do not need. Make sure you remove any extra sheets from bank or credit card statements (a lot of times there are blank sheets with the statements). I also rip off those flyer deals on the return envelopes of some bills. Since we have started recycling paper, we have never had any problems getting all our trash into the one can we have and our recycling can is always full to the brim!
We have a recycling bin in our garage and if I am able to flip through the mail on the walk up the drive, most of it never even gets into the house – I just toss it into the bin in the garage. I also have a basket in the hallway near our kitchen that is just a plain old basket we had around but were not using. It is large enough for paper, so I toss paper to be recycled in that and empty it into our recycling can outside once a week or so.
I try not to keep catalogs, but sometimes I am weak, so those go on the magazine rack and are recycled once I look through them. I like some children’s toy catalogs for ideas for my kids and nieces and nephews. If I find something I like, I put it on our wish list (it is a word document on our computer), along with the item number and where I saw it. That way I have a list of good ideas when relatives are asking for birthday or Christmas ideas.
As for the bills, I put them into a desktop filer that has three sections. In the first section, I have receipts that need to be entered into our checkbook (debit card stuff), the second section is for bills that are to be paid and the final section holds rebate information and those mailing labels that various organizations send you (use these for return labels on your bills or for “filling” out address info on forms). I try to enter all the receipts into the checkbook, balance the checkbook online and pay any bills every Wednesday, just to stay on top of things and not let it turn into too big of a job (very overwhelming when you are behind on keeping up with the paperwork).
I enter any information that I need to from the mail into our calendar (invites and such) and I put all things that need to be filled out into a manilla folder that I bring with me to places I might have to wait a while and I fill things out while I am waiting (before meetings, at the doctor or dentist, waiting in the car to pick up one of my kids, etc.) I put anything I may need to reference later into The Family Binder.
These are the systems that work well for us in controlling the mail.
How about you? What do you do to control the mail?