A few weeks ago I read a great post by Emily about the system she created for controlling paper and keeping her home neat and organized. Since we moved into our house I’ve been searching for a way to organize our mail but haven’t found anything that really worked for more than a couple days. After a week, I was back to square one with a giant pile of paper sitting on my office desk once again. Ideally, I would sort through our mail every day, but I don’t think that’s realistic.
When I saw Emily’s post, I was inspired to form my own organization system for my blog room/office. I already had three hanging metal magazine baskets that we mounted on the wall when we moved in. The magazine baskets, purchased from Pottery Barn, had previously been used to house old magazines. The magazines weren’t really getting looked at or used, so I moved some of the magazines into storage and tossed those that weren’t all that special.
Once I cleared the magazine baskets, I created three different classifications for our mail. In one way or another, all our mail fits into the following categories:
1. Items to File
This includes all the usual suspects, such as tax paperwork, receipts that we need to keep from home improvement projects, investments and 401K statements, etc. In our house, this is Joe’s responsibility. He is great with organization and keeps a detailed filing system at our house for all important documents. Once items go into the “to file” basket, I consider it off my to-do list and onto Joe’s to-do list.
2. Bills/To Do
We don’t get many paper bills anymore since we signed up for electronic billing, but occasionally we get a bill from the doctor, dentist, etc. that needs to be paid. Additionally, I put things in this folder such as writing to our Compassion Child (the one sponsored by Espresso and Cream!) and a blue zipper bag that holds all the coupons I get sent in the mail. It’s nice to have all the coupons in one place since they are strange shapes and sizes. And when I go shopping, it’s easy to take them and head out the door.
3. Items to Read
This basket contains magazines, catalogues, etc. Each week or two, I make an effort to sort through the basket and toss the magazines that have been read so that things don’t pile up. It’s a good practice for me, someone who tends to hoard magazines if I’m allowed to.
Thanks so much to Emily for the great inspiration! It is wonderful to have a place to immediately sort mail from the moment it arrives at our house rather than letting it pile up. And I’ve already found that I’m better about sitting down once a week and going through the mail when it’s cleanly sorted and organized. It’s much less overwhelming!