Organizing Tips for Handling Mail & More

do you need organizing tips for bringing the mail into your home?

Need organizing tips for handling your mail? Each of us has a different approach to  dealing with mail and what’s most important is knowing exactly how you’re going to deal with it when you bring it into the house, i.e. so it doesn’t get added to (or create) another pile of papers.

My husband gets upset when he’s traveling because I don’t pick up the mail. Can’t see why it’s important to race out to the mailbox when 90% of it’s junk mail, 9% are bills which have already been paid (love autopay) and rarely do I get a letter from a friend or something I enjoy, so why bother?

We need new organizing tips to blend the old (paper) with the new (electronic) and we’ll have articless on electronic organizing tips soon. For now, start thinking about what’s changing, i.e. when my kids were young, we’d take photos, get them developed and mail copies to the grandparents. When my granddaughter celebrated her 1st birthday recently, we joined the party via Skype (flying there for Christmas) and her uncle posted photos on Facebook that night. Now it’s time to clear the paper clutter and get ready for new ways of organizing our family information.

Organizing Tips for Paper Control

Keeping paperwork under control means having rules for handling the paper from the moment it enters your home. You also don’t want to scatter paperwork throughout the house as you often need more than one item to handle something. There’s no one way of doing things, so here’s what we do at my house. along with organizing tips from my boys lived at home.

Organizing Tips for Dealing with “Paper” Mail

Once you’ve created a set of rules for what stays and what goes into the circular (trash) file, dealing with your mail is relatively easy. We have a family mail station with slots for actions items like bills (we’re supposed to empty this weekly), my mail slot, my husband’s mail slot and filing. My goal (you have to keep tweaking) is for mail and other papers, to get sorted here and never left on the kitchen island.

Stop saving what you don’t need! We all get magazines, catalogs and more paper than we need. One of the best organizing tips – toss if you’re not going to use within a day (or week). If you must, pick one place … the bathroom or a basket in your family room, for casual reading (and toss when the basket gets too full).

Organizing Tips for Short Term Filing

Short term filing is minimal and I’d like to eliminate but it takes time to set up electronic delivery. We get lots of papers we need for a year or less, like car insurance, airline tickets, credit card bills, etc. To save filing time, they get sorted into these folders:

  • Short term filing folder – is one of the top organizing tips, for collecting everything that will get tossed within a year.
  • Folder with information to log – as I like to capture utility metrics, investment account information quarterly which I write down quarterly.
  • Children’s paperwork – requires more organizing tips. Start with one folder for each child, to save papers until the end of the school year. Then sort and pick a handful of memories for long term filing.
  • Tax paperwork -so it’s all in one place when it’s time to gather everything and send it off to the accountant.

Organizing Tips for Long Term Filing

Long term organizing means paperwork you need to keep for 7 years (tax documentation) or  to a lifetime. You’ll need to come up with your own rules for how to file things like your marriage certificate, your children’s birth certificates and more. You can invent your own system (we all have with great or limited success) or use the 5 categories and organizing tips recommended by Life In Case. So a few quick organizing tips from my house to yours …

  • Children’s “growing up” papers – provide wonderful memories so how much do you save? My favorite boxes are the ones that hold 10 reams of paper (top easy to take off/put back on) with one box for each kid (and a second box for favorite clothes).
  • House related paperwork – is important but seldom referenced, so it’s easiest to toss appliance manuals, paint information, furniture receipts, etc. into a folder or box. By keeping these papers separate, you can sort and toss when you move. There are also software products like Home Nav, to go beyond organizing tips by giving you tools to manage information online.
  • Organization or group paperwork – can take up lots of space for those involved in non-profit work. As groups and your involvement change frequently, one organizing tip is to keep paperwork separate from your family filing system.
  • Home office paperwork – should always be kept separate. If you’re running a small business at home, look for organizing tips for the type of business you have as product and service based businesses are very different.

Share your favorite organizing tips with a comment below …

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