Ever feel like your life is drowning in paper. These days, so much of what we get in the mailbox is marketing and junk mail. There is the occasional card and a few medical bills that float into that mix, and perhaps a magazine or two if you prefer a tactile experience in your periodical readings.
If you ignore or avoid the task of sorting and reviewing the mail on the day that it comes into your home, then your counter or desktop is likely overflowing with paper. How much of it is simply overwhelm? How much of it is important and piled underneath all of the ads and flyers that you will likely never review until the sales are long gone?
Last week i started decluttering the house by attacking my main hall closet. My next step was the office, but I quickly decided that the pile of mail growing on the counter needed my attention first. So, this week, I attacked the paper in the kitchen. I’m not quite finished, as I have been chunking this “least favorite task” a little each day. And while I was cooking my meas for the week, I watched a few decluttering and minimalist vloggers to see how THEY declutter. I really like the practical approach of The Minimal Mom. She and I are simpatico on the mail management tip of throwing away the junk mail before it even comes into the house.
So, I moved a small mountain of paper this week - in the kitchen, in my office, in my work tote, and in my bedroom. All in little bits of time that fit in-between the appointments and work of a busy week. Here are my top 3 tips for moving the paper:
SET A TIMER: You all know how I love my timers. This can take some of the excuses out of a seemingly overwhelming task. Your self-talk instantly changes. “I’m just going to deal with this pile/area for 10, 15 30 minutes” sounds way less overwhelming than “I’m going to spend all day on the paper piled up in the kitchen. Guess what happens when you set a small timer for a seemingly big task? You get judicious - really fast!
PAY-STRAY-SLAY: Just like other items in the house, paper goes in one of 3 categories. I slay all junk mail. I don’t even want to be tempted to bring more junk into the house. Bills and invitations, cards from friends - they all stay, but the envelopes they come in get tossed in with the recycling. Does the paper/mail belong to another person in the household? Magazine subscriptions, etc. get distributed to each person’s designated landing spot (often a desk corner or possibly a hanging file organizer). Bills go into a visible “do now” file tray to pay on the weekend when I clear it out. You may not be that quick, but designating a specific landing spot for things that might wreck your credit is highly advisable.
FILE or SCAN: The items that need to stay get filed away. The Minimal Mom organizes her kept paper by category and year, making sure to clear it out annually. I have a hanging file organizer on my office door for tax receipt keepers. If I can move a bill to digital delivery and auto-pay, I will cancel paper bills for them. If not, I keep them only as long as necessary for proof of payment. If you really don’t want or like paper, scan the items you need for your records and shred the paper.
I have 2 file organizers in my kitchen command center - one says “pay now” and the other says “file it” They get cleared out less often than I care to admit, and if I’m truthful, the “pay now” has become more of a “file for taxes” box. The pay now is in a more visible “can’t ignore me” box next to my key holder. So, keep in mind that just because you designate a system for one thing, they can change along with your needs and rituals. That would be my tip for staying flexible and forgiving - if it doesn’t work, figure out what does. ask yourself “What do i really need for this?” and “Is this giving me the result I am looking for?” What works for one person may not work at all for you, and even if it does, that may change with the seasons of your life.
So grab a timer and see how far you get in the next 15 minutes! And if you’re willing, I’d love to see your pictures of progress! Ready…set…GO!
P.S. - I’m still working on the office, surface by surface. This was simply more fun!