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Ok, so let’s get real here – we all have a pile of mail sitting somewhere – on the kitchen counter, maybe at the front door table, or on the coffee table? The dreaded mail to be sorted, saved, and stored pile.
And, it probably drives you a bit nuts – am I right? I know it drives me a little crazy, as in, “burst of sudden anger” at other members of my family for always having a bunch of you know what sitting on the counter, in my way, stopping me from doing whatever I wanted to do – such as cooking dinner.
I know you are saying – I’ve tried this before….
I will tell you I have tried several methods to deal with this little problem. First, I had a couple of baskets labeled “Bills” and “To File.” Those quickly became “Junk” and “More Junk.” Then, I tried organizing a drawer with some inserts. Same thing happened. I understand this is hard, especially when it feels the paper is working against us. To solve the problem, I decided it needed to be something highly mobile, easy to use for everyone, and out in the open, but still look nice sitting out.
My Mail Pile Hack
So, I came up with this little hack to manage my incoming mail. I bought an accordion file which looks a little nicer than a paper folder. They come in many styles and sizes and range from as little as $6 – $10, or around $20 if you want a really fancy one. I bought a nice, black, 8 ½ x 11 size because my countertops are a granite mix of blacks, white, and browns and it blends in nicely. I encourage you to buy one that makes you happy.
Next, I labeled the sections as needed. My categories include:
- Bills to Pay
- Items to Read
- Items to Hold
- Banking Info
- Insurance info
- Investment Info
- Other To File
When I bring mail into the house, I open, sort, and place into the folder. Sometimes I leave out pieces so my other half can look through it, but it goes in the nice little folder soon after.
Once a week, I carry the folder to my file area and file the information that needs to be put away, shred the stuff in the shred section, and my dear husband goes through the bills and pays them.
I will be honest, it doesn’t always work perfectly. Sometimes it is a few days before it gets sorted and the mail just sits on top the folder. Sometimes it is a few weeks before it gets filed away, but it is better than the dreaded box of mail or pile of “stuff” in the house. And, when unexpected guests appear, it is very easy to scoop it up and shove it in a convenient drawer.
The folder also could have sections for schoolwork or other papers to sign for kids with those endless school forms or to keep track of medical information for those caring for elderly family members. Or, you could put together separate ones for each member of the family.
It may take a little while to get everyone on board with the system, but it takes very little time to file the mail away and since it is usually sitting out, it is easy to access, but harder to just “dump” stuff into.
Along with this method, I highly recommend buying a shredder to quickly dispose of confidential or sensitive information. I have also bought several binders and a lovely heavy-duty three-hole punch. I think binders are much easier when organizing bank statements, insurance statements, investment information, and medical statements. I buy the Amazon Basics binders in the 2” size because they hold up well, have plenty of room, and are fairly inexpensive. I bought a heavy, duty (and I mean heavy) three-hole punch because it is just easier to be able to punch a large amount of paperwork at one time and much easier on the hands. It was a little pricey, but worth it to me.
What do you think – do you use a similar system or do you have a mail solution that works for you? Tell me about it below and join the conversation below.