Tag Archive for: organizing mail

consistent action

Experiment with New Habits

Organizing tipSet up a new habit as an experiment. This allows you to view the process as fun rather than a chore. New habits with a focus on maintaining order are always helpful. Here are two examples of experiments you can try.

  1. Experiment with collecting the mail daily and seeing how much you can immediately recycle without opening. Set a goal for yourself to recycle at least 10 pieces of mail a week. Keep a tally sheet on the fridge and get the whole family involved. Reward yourself with a family bonfire at the end of the month.
  2. Experiment with tossing one item a day from your junk drawer (or closet, dresser, medicine cabinet, or toiletries stash). Take a before photo. Do this for one month and take an after photo. How does it look? How much more functional is the drawer? How do you feel about your tossed items? Reward yourself with something fun and please share your before and after photos with me.
paper clutter

Paper Discard List

Organizing tipDiscard paper daily. Knowing what paper can be automatically shredded or recycled will motivate you to get rid of paper that has been accumulating. Use the list below as your personal paper discard list.


  • old shopping lists
  • used envelope
  • expired coupons
  • duplicate documents
  • paper holding information you already know
  • early drafts of something
  • junk mail: mail labeled “Resident” or “Occupant”, unsolicited requests from charities, banks or other organizations, unwanted shopping circulars and advertisements, unsolicited credit card applications and political notices
  • information more than 3 months old: magazines, cash receipts, newspapers, grocery receipts
  • outdated material: catalogues, phone books, directories, schedules, calendars, warranties, reports, notes to self, to do lists, maps, text books, school notices, announcements, invitations
  • information more than a year old: articles, brochures, instructions, manuals, ATM slips, bank registers, paid utility bills, explanation of benefits
  • paper that has incorrect information: business cards, labels, stationery, letterhead
paper clutter

Piles Happen

While having lunch with a friend, she proclaimed “piles happen”.  I readily agreed, and shared that the best way to combat piles is to store paper vertically, not horizontally.  For example, instead of setting the mail down on the counter, and letting it pile up, sort it into a divided vertical container.  Another example is to put newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and in a container that holds them upright.

Organizing Mail

mail boxDo you ignore the the daily acts of collecting, sorting, and processing the mail?  Dose it go away?  No!  It just keeps piling up.  I find that a routine helps me keep the mail organized and prevents piles from forming.

My mail routine:

  1.  Sort into my mail vs. my husband’s mail (he gets to open and process is own mail)
  2.  Open it as soon as I bring it in the house, if not then, by the end of the day
  3.  Put open pieces in their predetermined homes
  •  Bills go in bill pay box by computer
  •  Coupons go in box on top of fridge
  •  Flyers, advertisements, and solicitations get briefly viewed then recycled
  •  Junk mail gets immediately recycled
  •  Statements or the like, get filed right away
  •  Mail to read gets put in my “to read” location
  •  Mail that requires action goes into my action folder

Organizing guidelines help me stay on top of the mounting mail, as well.

Here are my guidelines:

  1.  My timeframe to open the mail is right away or by the end of the day
  2.  I have predetermined homes for pieces of mail to land
  3.  I immediately recycle as much as I can
  4.  I’m not the mail opener for the whole household
  5.  I consciously make an effort to reduce the amount of mail I receive

Mail is delivered 6 days a week, whether we view it or not.  So, stop ignoring it, and establish organizing routines and guidelines in order to stay on top of it.

© March 2014  Janine Cavanaugh, CPO®  All rights reserved


Proud member of NAPO

Reducing Mail

mailboxI was at the National Association of Professional Organizers Conference for 5 days and guess how many pieces of mail I received?  Only 9!  In addition, I did receive one local newspaper and one packet of flyers. Out of those nine pieces of mail, two were really good, a check and a copy of the news article in which I was quoted.  Not bad, right?  Would you  like to know the secret of how you can receive less mail?  Below are my top 3 tips on how to reduce the amount of mail you receive:

Tip #1.  Get your name removed from mailing lists for newspapers, magazines, catalogs and solicitations.  Please note it can take up to 6 months to be removed from a mailing list.  Some websites to try:
Tip #2.  Go paperless with monthly statements, bills, and newsletters.
Tip #3.  Go high tech and use nooks, kindles and phone apps for newspapers, magazines, etc.

© April 2013, Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer® All rights reserved


Proud member of NAPO