Paper Organization: How to organize mail is on the blog today. Let’s dive in! Why paper organization? This is the common question I received since I posted the introduction of this month’s series last week. My answer is simple. It’s because the paper organization is the most talk about topic that resonates to many of us as familiar old stuff and yet, it remains challenging to accomplished.
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You see, I’ve always love organizing things. Yet admittedly, there are times when I feel like on a vacation mode, and without an established mail organizing system, it makes it even more difficult to pick up where I left off. So, I began experimenting with what works and found out a few that don’t. Over a year ago, we moved to our first house in a new city where everything is unfamiliar. Instead of seeing it as a scary move, I consider it as an opportunity to learn new things and grow from it so that I can share it with others who may need organizing tips and ideas. In this house, I dig deeper into the home organization while keeping my minimalist style.
Every day except on Sundays when there’s no mail delivery, my husband picks up our mail. I think I’ve only picked up less than ten times since we moved here. It’s good teamwork we are building because as soon as he enters the door, the mail directly goes to my desk. It makes it easier to manage. I sort the mail on a daily basis by category in file folders: File, Follow Up, Bills, Read, Recycle, and Shred. Because there’s no exact same time of the day we get the mail, I sort them in the evening. But when I’m traveling, my husband sure knows our mail organization system. For the most part, I only asked him to file them by category or in the event when he is unmotivated, he merely just put the mail on my desk, and it works for as long as he makes sure that there are no letters that need urgent action.
Here’s how and why I categorized our mail as mentioned above:
File – The best examples of mail that fall into this category are health/dental/eye insurance, tax documents, home/work contracts, and other important documents. Notice that I didn’t include bank and other financial related statements? With mail theft that could potentially happen in many neighborhoods, I became more defensive with our private information. So, I have all of our accounts setup electronically. It saves time, and it’s secure.
Then on Sundays, I re-visit this category. I decide which file needs to be kept long-term and which doesn’t. For long-term safe keep, I filed the documents in a binder by category (I’ll talk more about this as we continue the paper organization series). Although, I scan documents and save them electronically. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not a paperless person because 1) I’m old school. I love to write and read articles on paper, and 2) I prefer to have the paper documents on hand when referencing things. In short, paper documents are welcome at our home while keeping it minimal. Does it make sense?
Follow up – This is where I file coupons since I sort them on Sundays only. Along with it are letters that require further action like call or email but unlike coupons, I take care of them immediately (which means by the following day since I sort our mail in the evening) and get it done.
Bills – These days, we are only getting one bill (from an old-fashioned company) in the mail since I’ve already set up the rest electronically. It feels good not to worry about having our bills delivered to the wrong address with our personal information on it. Okay, am I too paranoid about identity theft? Well, at least my husband said I’m reasonable.
What I do to make sure that all bills are paid on time, and I’m carefully keeping track of our finances is write each statement due date on a dry erase calendar in my office which my husband can also see in addition to what I’ve already noted in my planner.
Read – I keep two magazine holders for this category. I fondly labeled it as 1) Car + History + Tech Enthusiast (This is for my husband!) and 2) Home + Pet + Travel Lover (This is for me!). Come on, life shouldn’t be boring. Right?
Recycle – I have a recycle bin for all the junk email. It’s placed beside the shredder. I unload it daily but when I’m traveling and my husband decides to sort mail, then it can wait until I come back or on a weekly basis, whichever is shorter. The idea is to not make my office a recycle populated space.
Shred – On this category, I’d say just do it. I mean to do it immediately. If you don’t need it but your personal information is on it, shred it. Lately, I’m using a secure marker to erase our personal information before shredding any documents. Yes, it takes an extra minute, but we feel safer guarding our personal information through this extra step.
How to Organize Mail
1) Pick up the mail on a daily basis, if possible. Don’t wait until it piles up! That’s when you feel unmotivated to establish a system.
2) Designate a mail station area. In our home, we use my office desk for this purpose.
Here are my favorite mail organizing items:
5) Make sure to have your recycling bin and shredder conveniently positioned for any time use.
6) Follow the mail organizing system daily and remember to share it with your family to stay on track. This is very important. You don’t want to start a system and not let your family be part of it. It won’t be successful, and it would create frustrations instead. Set expectations and ask help from them. Unless, you live by yourself!
7) Tweak the mail organizing system if it no longer serves your family’s needs. Seasons in life change so as our priorities. So, be flexible!
That’s our mail organizing system at home. It works well for us. Like many other systems that I tried implementing, it takes a couple of weeks to have my husband fully in tuned to what I’m trying to accomplished. Now, he loves it and religiously follows it. I call it a miracle sometimes!
What is your mail organizing system? What are your favorite organizers? Are you a paperless family or you are like us who welcome paper documents but does bills and other financial documents electronically?
Thank you for stopping by and stay tuned for the next series of paper organization next week!
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