Friday, April 19, 2013

Organize Your Space: The Mail

Hello friends.  Are piles of obnoxious mail scattered around your house?  Do you misplace bills or important pieces of mail? Do you have like 500 old papers lying around?  Do you have like 500 coupons to Jiffy Lube around?  Do you feel like the mail is taking control of your space?  Well then, my friends, this post is for you. 

We all get mail.  Unfortunately.  As you know, 99.9% of it is junk.  If you do on-line baking, than you really aren't receiving much in the way of bills these days...pretty much just junk.  And if you do get a letter from someone, it's from your sweet awesome 90-year-old grandmother who doesn't know how to work a computer (and she still sends you $10 cash, and she rocks).  Thank you Grandma for sending me a letter (sniff, sniff).  

First off, if you have these said piles of mail around your house, this is evident of a behavior.  The behavior of not going through the mail adequately.  You might open a few "important" items, but then leave the remaining obvious credit card advertisements unopened, thinking, "I will get to that later."  Well folks, this is later.  

First, if you are not happy with the piles of mail and paper, then start today, start now!  Don't wait.  Taking the leap from thinking about doing something to doing something is the biggest leap ever.  But don't be afraid, it will be great and very rewarding.  So let's do this!

Before we start I want to show you how I organize my mail and space and a few very inexpensive items that help keep things organized.  

1.  The first thing here is not an item, it's a behavior.  You have to commit to going through the mail everyday, you must change your habit and behavior.  When you bring the mail from the box to your house, NEVER put it down and forget about it.  You must immediately attend to it.  This is the only way to ensure it will not start building up again. And trust me, this will become like second nature in time, but you have to start somewhere and allow yourself the practice of this behavior change.

2.  Get yourself a small box for coupons (I found these at Ikea).  I also have one for all my recipes.  
3.  Get yourself a shredder.  I found this one at Costco (look for one that will shred 5 or more pieces of paper at at time).
4.  Get yourself a small cork board.  This is a MUST space for informational items such as invitations, important dates to remember, community events, etc. 
5.  Some sort of visible holding system where you can put mail in 3 different categories: (1) OPEN (2) PAY (3) FILE.
I found this at Target.  
 Here is a  closer look:
6.  Create a place for those miscellaneous items.  I use a top to a box from Ikea.  This space is STRICTLY for things I plan to pay attention to in the immediate future.  These items USED to go on my cork board, but I am disciplined enough now to put them out of sight (as I know I will not forget about them).  So, what's in this miscellaneous space you ask?  Well, this week, an old envelope with notes on it regarding an product I want to buy, a nice letter from my son's childcare that I will show Scott later when he gets home, a rolled up piece of paper with a recipe on it (that I will blog about later), a piece of business I will discuss with Scott when he gets home, and some pictures from my friend's wedding (that I plan to frame and make into a gift).  All things I don't want cluttering up space, so I put them in their own box or a "to take care of box."  They will not be forgotten. 
And here it is all tucked away in my desk

Okay, we've covered some essential items to organize your mail.  Let's get started organizing shall we. 

Organizing your mail:

First, get a large empty box and put ALLLLLL the mail from all over your house in the box.  And I mean everything, grocery store ads, coupons, magazines, papers, etc.  Everything.  

Second, clear out your schedule, I would do an entire day (a Saturday or Sunday).  Get yourself some snacks as rewards.  Locate your favorite music to play as you go through this box of mail (and NO TV - too distracting).

Finally, with adequate time, a quiet house perhaps, snacks and music at the ready, it's time to go through the box.  

Here we go...

#1. Pick up 1 item at a time from the box.  Look at it and determine if fits into one of these five categories:

*Coupons/informational items

#2.  Make 5 separate piles on the ground.  Go ahead, spread yourself out.  Label the 5 piles so you don't forget.  Just use a sticky note or something for the label.  

#3.  Now, one by one, go through this entire box and place the items accordingly.

When your big box of mail/magazines/paper is empty and you have your piles: 

#1.  Now take away the recycling and put it in the recycling bin

#2.  IMMEDIATELY shred everything you have in the shred pile

#3.  Place your "bills to pay" in the appropriate holding area

#4.  File what you can.  If you don't have a file for that subject, write it down so you can make a file later.  Or store in the appropriate file holding area

#5.  Place all the coupons in your coupon box

#6.  Place all informational items on the cork board

#7.  Place everything else into your miscellaneous box (just DON'T forget about...promise!)

#8.  Tired of all those magazine catalogs?  Best way to stop them from coming is to call the phone number in the catalog and tell them you want to be removed from their mailing list.  I do this often.  Easy way to decrease waste too! 
Final Thoughts:

*Taking control of your mail is easy, you just have to stay on top of it.  

*Once you clean up all the mail and clutter that's been sitting around your house for months...perhaps years, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment.  You will feel light, happy, in control, calm, and centered.  

*You have to want this.  If you're not ready to make the change and keep at it, then wait until you are.  Some people like having their piles of mail around, there is a method to their clutter, and that's totally fine.

*This post is meant for those who are ready to make that change, ready to organize their space (mail in this case) but having trouble taking that first step.  This is truly the hardest part - that step from thinking about doing it to actually doing it.  It can even feel scary for some people.  This is all normal.  But you CAN do it.  Behavior can change.  And this small change might provide a great sense of accomplishment and control in your life.    
Here are some pictures of mail stations I found on the internet




The Home Depot


The Container Store 


  1. I wish I could be this organised but I'm getting there! At the moment everything gets piled on my desk or hubby's desk so we always know where everything is!

    I do shred junk though! We got rid of the cork board because everything seemed to get pinned there and nothing removed!

    Great tips Amber, I'll try to take some of them on board!

    Vicky xo

    • Hi Vicky. A shredder is key. And I know what you mean about the cork board. I find the most helpful thing is to (1) keep the board small (mine is only 17" x 17") so pretty tiny, but large enough to fit papers. And to only put things on there that will get immediate attention. Everything else is filed away. So, for example, here are the things pinned to my cork board: something that needs to be returned to my daughter's school next week, a flyer for a Goodwill pick-up, and a reminder of an E-waste pick up on Monday. So these will all come down next week and anything else pressing will be pinned up as reminders. I don't keep things on there long-term, again, those things are filed. But again, good point. Don't let your cork board be a clutter space either, right. It all happens so quickly. :-)

  2. gfe--gluten free easilyApril 20, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    I need this system badly, but, honestly, I get overwhelmed just reading the instructions and looking at the photos. :-( Glad you've got it working for you, Amber! You could probably get folks started doing this on the side as extra income. Seriously!


  3. Hi Shirley...and thanks.

    When I was 18 I was in fact hired as an organizer. A family friend (and professor) hired me to organize her house, including a room covered in mail, and years of research and papers. I loved every minute of it.

  4. Can you come over and organize our new home Amber?! I will fly you out :) Thanks for the awesome tips. Your system is brilliant and I love the labels you made. Your organizational tips are very motivating as I organize out of obligation-wish I had the same passion for it as you do!

  5. GlutenFreeHappyTummyApril 21, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    OK Amber. You've officially inspired me!! :D THanks!! Hugs!


Total Pageviews