Janine Adams from Peace of Mind Organizing with why sorting the mail is so important
As a professional organizer, I get to see inside people’s homes and see the challenges that face them. You know what I see? Lots and lots of paper. And much of it is unopened mail.
Why don’t people open their mail? I think sometimes they can’t be bothered, and then when the pile gets too big, they get overwhelmed. And the mail can get scary. There can be correspondence from the IRS, past-due notices, denials from insurance companies lurking in there. But you know what? Ignoring that stuff doesn’t make it go away. And it sure doesn’t make the situation any better.
The other thing to remember is that sometimes there’s great stuff in the mail. A letter from a loved one. A refund check. Maybe even a notice that you’ve inherited something inside a really scary-looking letter from an attorney. Hey, yesterday I received a thank-you card with a $25 Starbucks card inside. I’d be bummed if I’d never opened that.
If you stay on top of your mail, you don’t have to look at the piles. You don’t have to worry about what might be lurking there. You have an opportunity to take action on any bad news that might be there. You pay your bills on time. I bet you can guess that I think staying on top of the mail is a good thing.
How do you go about doing it? The system that I suggest to my clients, which has been very successful for most, is quite simple. Here are the steps:
* Buy a desktop file box, with no lid, no more than about six inches deep. Make it pretty, so you can keep it out on a desk. I call this your Action Box.
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* Put six to ten hanging file folders in it.
* Create categories that represent the mail that you receive and need to hang onto. Common categories include: Bills to Pay, Action, Coupons/Gift Cards, Events, Schedules, Pending.
* Work through your backlog of mail, getting rid of as much as possible, and filing into your Action Box as needed.
* Set aside a little bit of time each and every day the mail comes to process it, again getting rid of as much as possible and filing into the Action Box as needed
* Each day (or at least once a week) go through the papers in the Action Box, paying bills and doing actions as necessary. Weed out expired coupons. Get rid of what you can. This is an essential step. If you don’t lok through the Action Box regularly, you’re just hiding stuff from yourself.
If you make handling the mail a daily feat, scary piles of mail can become a thing of the past. And boy can that bring peace of mind.
Want to go a little more in-depth? I give more detailed instructions on creating an Action Box in my Organizing Guide called How to Fall In Love with the Mail Carrier All Over Again. It’s a five-page downloadable pdf and sells for $9. And for extra special support and advice on getting a handle on your mail, I offer an e-course called Make Peace with Your Mail.
I’m happy to offer DailyFeats readers a 15 percent discount on these and all other Peace of Mind Organizing products. Simply use the coupon code DAILYFEATS at checkout.
Janine Adams is a certified professional organizer and owner of Peace of Mind Organizing® based in St. Louis, Missouri.