How to Keep Your Mail from Managing You


In this day and age, we are constantly being bombarded by media of all types! In my days as a professional organizer, almost every single one of my clients faced difficulty managing their mail. When I say mail, I mean paper or “snail mail.” Like rabbits, paper tends to multiply rapidly! Here are some effective strategies for managing the clutter.

Start with the new. Don’t even bother with that old stack of mail; chances are a lot of it is outdated. Beginning with the new items will prevent you from getting overwhelmed and help you establish a new daily routine. Once you are caught up, you can tackle the older stack.

Create a mail center. Designate a central area in your home for a mail management center. I use a corner of my kitchen counter. There are all sorts of organizational units that can be purchased online for this purpose. I prefer to keep things simple. In my management center, I have sticky notes, scissors, a letter opener, a cup with pens and pencils, a file holder (with ample racks), and a small basket. In the file holder, I have files labeled with different categories: Urgent, Action, To File and Miscellaneous. Use the small basket for greeting cards and thank you notes you receive. Once this basket is full, it will be a reminder to clean it out. Either recycle these cards and notes, or set them aside in momento boxes or use for scrapbooking. Other items I like to keep handy in my mail management center are stamps, a variety of different sized envelopes, an address book and a calendar. I also keep a shredder nearby.

Remember OHIO. OHIO stands for : Only Handle It Once. Resist the temptation to set your mail in a pile to deal with later. There is no time like the present. Put mail items in the appropriate folders if you can’t act on them at that moment. Do check the Urgent and Action folders daily. Shred and/or recycle all junk mail immediately. Place magazines and catalogs in one place such as a basket in the living room. When this basket gets full, this is your cue to clean it out. Recycle the catalogs. Donate old magazines to the gym or doctor’s office. My local library has a rack where you can trade your magazines for others.

Use these strategies, and you will be managing your mail like a champ! Until next time, happy homemaking!

This post was adapted from theĀ 2/22/09 entry on my former blog:

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