Has your entryway, kitchen, or home office become a dumping ground for every scrap of paper that comes through the front door? Do you find yourself paying bills late because you misplace them or can't find them buried in the stacks? Don’t let your mail intimidate you! To help you declutter those mail piles and pay those bills on time, here are five surefire tips for creating a high-functioning mail center in your home:
1. Reduce unwanted mail. One of the easiest ways to reduce the quantity of mail coming through the door is by adding yourself to "Do Not Mail" lists. Here are two great options:
DMAChoice.org: For $1 you can remove yourself from direct mailing lists according to criteria you select. It usually takes 90 days for the changes to take effect, and your elections will be honored for three years.
CatalogChoice.org: This service allows you to unsubscribe from unwanted catalogs you receive. The service is free, but requires you to enter a customer number for each catalog. We suggest setting aside catalogs for a month and then processing all of your requests at once.
2. Recycle junk mail. As soon as you walk through the door with the day's delivery of mail, get into the habit of recycling junk mail immediately. To make it easy, we suggest sorting your mail over your recycle bin. Taking junk mail out of the equation not only reduces stress associated with mail, it draws focus to mail that legitimately requires your attention.
3. Filter mail into categories. Creating appropriate categories is one of the most important steps in creating a mail center. Some starter suggestions:
Actionable Items – Used to flag bills and other mail that is time-sensitive and has an action associated with it (e.g. pay bill, respond to invite, etc.)
To Read Later – Used to earmark magazines, newsletters, and other documents you want or need to read and review, but that don’t require immediate attention or action
Discounts – Used to flag special offer flyers and coupons
4. Set aside time to attend to actionable mail. Creating categories is of little use if you don’t set aside time to process your actionable mail. Create a recurring calendar appointment to remind you to process your actionable mail each week. Use this same recurring appointment to file any documents that need to be retained.
5. Choose the right products for your mail center. When shopping for organizing products, keep in mind that they’re not “one size fits all.” Every space is different and every family is different. Take a few measurements of your space first to ensure the product you choose will fit when you get it home. To help you get started, here are a few favorite products for creating a home mail center.
For more tips on creating a mail center and handling bills more efficiently, download a copy of Innovatively Organized's Mail Center webinar.
To read more tips from Innovatively Organized and organizing and productivity expert Elizabeth Bowman, check out the Innovatively Organized blog, where new tips and tricks are posted regularly. Innovatively Organized is a Seattle-based organizing and productivity company that provides effective organizing solutions for busy professionals, teams, and families to better manage their time, increase productivity, and gain control of their spaces.