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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Overwhelmed by the mail?

Are there certain sites you find yourself heading to when you need ideas for something specific? I have several standbys, and one of my favorites for organizational needs (or chaos management, if you prefer) is Mommy Track'd. Amy, founder of Mommy Track'd has graciously agreed to share one of the survival guides from her site for this week's Thursday tip.

One of my biggest clutter challenges can be found in the mailbox...I tend to put the mail on the counter with the intention of "dealing with it later". Like tomorrow, "later" never seems to come - or when it does come that stack has gotten pretty intimidating. I chose this specific survival guide, "Overwhelmed by the Mail?" because at least for me, the answer is a resounding yes!

Do you have a sense of dread when you open your mailbox? Not just because of bills, but also because of everything else that’s in there with the bills. Mail is like a weed, if you don’t keep it in check, it will spread out and eventually take over any and all empty tables, countertops, and chairs you’ve got. The consequences can be more than just clutter, too. The National Association of Professional Organizers estimates that 25% of Americans pay their bills late because they can’t find them. To make things even more difficult, postal workers delivered nearly 101 billion pieces of bulk mail in 2005, a 12 percent increase from two years ago. It was the first year that bulk mail exceeded first-class mail. Strange to think there was actually a time when we waited excitedly for the mail to come, hoping for a letter or magazine. Fortunately, there are ways to stop fearing, and maybe even start anticipating, the mail again.

Alicia on “Recycling the Junk” “When you first glance at the pile of mail you get on a daily basis, it already looks imposing. If you do a quick sorting of the pile, though, you can weed out the junk that makes up a majority of the mail. Keep a recycling bin next to where you keep your mail, and immediately toss all the unwanted catalogs, fliers, subscription offers, sweepstakes entry forms, charity solicitations, credit offers, advertising supplements, and whatever else they can dram up. You can be environmentally conscious, while also shrinking your mail pile.”

Sarah on “Opting Out” “One of the easier ways to get a handle on your mail pile is to reduce the amount of mail you get in the first place. A good way to remove your name from several national mailing lists at once by signing up for the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service. This Web site provides instructions on how to register (a $1 processing fee is charged). This service is only for national, not local, mail and only for residential, not business, addresses and is good for five years.”

Here are a few simple steps to getting your countertops free of mail piles.

#1. Create a Sorting System
The best way to organize your mail is by getting an organizer. Start by getting a mail holder with three compartments. Make compartment #1 for bills, #2 for correspondence and #3 for things that need action (e.g. forms to mail back, coupons you want to use later in the week). It’s amazing how manageable the mail suddenly becomes when it’s broken down into its contents.

#2. Make “Sorting Time”
Pick a time every day (before you leave for work in the am or before you turn on the TV at night) and take a few short minutes to sort the mail into the compartments we mentioned above. Once you’ve done that, pick a day each week (same day/time) to go through and pay the bills, answer any correspondence, put invitations into calendar, and whatever action-oriented things you need to do. That way you can start with a clean slate the following week.

#3. Magazines/Catalogs
Magazines and catalogs take up an enormous amount of space in your mail. No matter how much you may like getting all of them, there comes a time when you need to recognize whether you really need all of them. If there is a magazine you get but never have time to read, cancel your subscription. If there’s a catalog you used to like but haven’t ordered from for a while, contact them and request to be off their mailing list. You can always re-subscribe, but why waste money, and paper, on things you always throw out.

This survival guide was written by Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore , co-founders of Buttoned Up, inc. Buttoned Up, Inc. is a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized (along with everybody else they’re responsible for too!). Please send ideas and questions to us at: yourlife@getbuttonedup.com or visit us at http://www.getbuttonedup.com/

For more survival guides, free downloads, message boards and more, visit Mommy Track'd!

Do you have any other mail conquering tips? What are you working on this week to better organize your home or life?

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Marva said...

I sort the mail when I bring it home, right by the garbage can. Bills go into a basket until paid and fined right after. Junk in the garbage and magazines/catalogs on the coffee table in the retreat where John and I chill out after the boys are inn bed.

Great post! Blessings!

Marva said...

That would be filed not fined! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips - I too try to sort immediately when I get home with the mail! On the days we get a lot I do feel a little overwhelmed by it all!

HeatherPride said...

My first thought when I saw this post was, why yes I am!!! It is a constant battle to keep our mail off our counter, and it drives me nuts!!!