How to Organize Mail
If you struggle with paper clutter then this article on How to Organize Mail will help you stop that clutter before it gets any worse. Let’s face it mail comes into our homes every single day and whether you have one or not, home office organization requires that you have paper systems set up to keep things streamlined.
By having a plan set up that you can rely on each time mail arrives you can relax knowing that the important things are getting the attention they need. This also will help to ensure that no more things will fall through the cracks in your home.
If you are like me, then your to-do list is always a mile long. We tend to have more to do than there are hours in a day and getting yourself and everyone else through the day in one piece requires a medal.
How to Setup a Better To-Do List!
For many women, your job is to be sure the important things are always getting done. Things like cooking, taking care of the kids, work, and schedules, just to name a few.
But one task that often falls by the wayside is organizing your mail.
It can be tough to keep on top of things when you’re constantly inundated with bills, advertisements, and other correspondence. Today I’ll share my tips for creating a system for incoming mail that is super easy to set up and even easier to stick with.
Let’s talk about that for a minute.
It’s the one clutter source that hits our homes every single day. And even though we wish we could stop it we can’t. What is the next best thing? Setting up a system that works for you and your entire family.
Where do people put their mail?
This is a question that gets asked more often than any other. The answer is just as common as the question. People most often toss their mail on the kitchen counter or any open surface for that matter.
Their intentions are to place it out in the open for now so they remember to go through it later on. The problem is, that things tend to pile up rather quickly in a busy home. And before you know it today’s mail is now hiding under the remnants of that busy day.
When you can designate a specific spot for incoming mail you will eliminate one headache instantly allowing you to put your attention to the next steps.
How to Organize Mail
Let’s break this down step by step so you can more easily build a setup that works for you. Not all organizing systems work for everyone, so work your way down the list and come up with a tailor-made answer you can stick with.
1. Chose a Better Drop Spot
Decide on a place for your mail to go as soon as it comes into your home. Having a plan for what happens when the mail arrives is the first step to keeping tabs and, yes, better control of this clutter source.
Your goal is to avoid mail coming into your home and sitting there without taking action. However, this is where most people get stuck. They know they need to do something with it but they don’t know where to start.
Start here: choose a spot to toss the mail. This can be a physical location like a basket or tray. Take a look at where you are tossing things now, put a basket in this spot and start putting the mail into the basket instead.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
- If you normally toss mail on the kitchen counter you can put a plastic paper basket in this spot to use instead.
- If incoming mail usually lands on the table in the mudroom you can place a pretty paper tray there to hold it.
- If your desk is where mail usually lands then a wire basket will help keep it contained.
2. Do a Quick Sort
Sort through the mail every day and throw away what you don’t need.
This step is crucial if you want to avoid letting the mail pile up but please do not overthink it. Your goal is to just weed out the junk and leave the rest to work through later on.
You can either sort as soon as the mail comes in or set aside some time each day to go through things.
In our home, this quick sort usually happens as dinner is cooking. Just a few seconds is all I need to pull out any junk mail and toss it. Next, I can remove any newspaper ads and put them in the recycling center if I do not want to use them.
3. Designate a Day to do a Heavy Sort
This step might feel out of the norm, but hear me out. The problem with paper clutter is there is always something that needs to be dealt with. Rather than making this a daily task why not turn it into a weekly one?
Many, if not all, important papers have a shelf-life of 10-14 days. This means if you are opening all of your mail once every 7 days you will be well within this deadline.
In our home, mail gets opened on planning day which is Sunday. This is when I deal with any important papers and file away the rest.
How to file incoming mail:
- Bills – go into your bill-paying area.
- Receipts – go into your receipt file.
- Documents – go into your home filing area.
- Invitations – get responded to and put into your calendar file and/or noted onto the calendar.
- Coupons and Ads – go into your errand basket.
4. Create a Filing System.
If you do not have one yet, you will need to create a filing system for the important papers that we talked about in step #3. Start with a few main files as you work to get used to your new setup.
Here are a few ideas:
Whatever you choose, be sure to put it in a place where you can easily find it when you need it. A drawer in your office desk is a great place to hold your mail files.
What if you don’t have a desk?
You can set up a portable file bin to hold plenty of files for the average home. This is what I used for years and it worked amazingly well. Not only was I able to keep our papers filed in a way that was easy to find things quickly, but it also helped me to keep our household budget in check and bills paid on time.
5. Use Clear and Concise Labels.
If you want to be sure you continue to use your new setup it is important that you have levels set into place that are clear. Being cute is only going to confuse things so use the exact words for the papers that are found inside of each file.
If labels are more confusing than helpful you can try out color coding to help you stay on top of things. This can be especially helpful if you have a lot of paperwork to keep track of.
6. Put bills in a Designated Spot
One of the most important things to keep track of is your bills. Be sure to put them in a designated spot so you can easily find them when they come due. This will help you avoid late fees and keep your finances in order.
You can simply set up a drawer in your desk to toss your bills or a hanging file on your wall in your kitchen.
Go one step further and designate a day each week to pay your bills and review your home finances. In our home, this happens every Friday morning. All bills that are due get paid, finances get reviewed, statements get checked and papers get filed. By investing 20 minutes once a week you can save yourself from unwanted frustration along with late or overdraft fees.
Store coupons and other promotional materials in an easily accessible location. This can be a basket, a file, or another container. In our home, we have an errand basket setup. This is where all flyers and coupons get tossed along with anything that needs to be returned. Whenever I head out to run errands I check this basket first.
This will help you save money and keep your kitchen or office organized.
Organizing your mail doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following these simple tips, you can easily keep on top of things and avoid the dreaded pileup. When learning how to organize mail be sure to use a system that makes sense to you and fits your lifestyle. This will help you to keep the mail where it belongs and the paper clutter out of your home for good.
how long should I keep receipts after paying the bills?
I keep receipts for 3 years. Unless I am using them as a tax deduction for personal or business, then I do keep them longer.
I hope this helps!
Managing mail is an ongoing issue and having a system in place helps so much. You have lots of really great ideas! Thank you! ~Missy