Organizing Your Home - Managing Incoming Mail with a System . . .

By
Real Estate Agent with Prudential Page Realty
real simple 3

I find that one of the hardest things to keep organized at home is all the paperwork that comes into our homes, whether it's catalogs, junk mail, bills to pay, invitations etc. Here's a great article that was emailed to me from RealSimple.com. It also includes a link to a great bill planning worksheet. I think you will find some great tips for getting systems in place to manage the clutter and create a plan for handling incoming mail going forward. . . .

Get Organized

Systems for Managing Your Mail
Create a Workspace for Handling Mail
  • Designate something as an in-box. It can be a basket, a storage box, a drawer — anything big enough to hold a week’s worth of mail and no more.

  • Post a large trash can or recycling bin near the in-box to hold all the junk mail that you’ll be purging. Helpful hint: Pitch junk mail the second you reach your in-box each day.

  • Consider buying a paper shredder. It will let you dispose of documents containing personal information and account numbers without having to worry about identity theft.

  • Decide on a regular time to sort through your in-box and distribute its contents to the organizational systems you’re about to create. Make it a habit.

  • Create a System
  • To keep bill paying from being married to a particular room (and feeling like such a chore), devise a portable filing system that will let you work anywhere you like.

  • Stash a checkbook, pens, stamps, and envelopes in the back pocket of your organizer so you don’t have to hunt for them when you’re ready to go.

  • Label the file pockets in a way that works for you, whether that’s day by day — labeled 1 to 31 (great for chronic late payers) — or a pay-this-week and pay-next-week system. (Use the Managing Monthly Bills Worksheet to help you master payment due dates once and for all.)

  • Then decide on a good time to tackle the job — such as during the two- or three-minute commercial breaks in your favorite TV shows.

  • When you’ve paid the bills, move them to a file cabinet or box (see 5 Steps to Simpler Record Keeping).

  • Find Ways to Streamline
  • Many banks let you set up bill-paying plans.

  • Some utilities and service companies (cable, phone, Internet providers) offer online and automated-payment options.

  • Magazines and Catalogs
    Magazines and catalogs can overstay their welcome, usually in piles on the coffee table and the nightstand. Give them a (smallish) home and they’ll be easy to keep in line.
  • Separate these bulky items from your other mail before you even take off your coat. Put them in a designated container so you can transport them easily from room to room for perusing, then to the recycling bin when you’re done.

  • If you find you’re often loath to part with certain recipes or months-old magazine articles, tear out the pages and store them in a binder or an expandable file.

  • If there’s a magazine whose issues you haven’t so much as cracked the binding on in six months, consider canceling the subscription.

  • If you’re inundated with catalogs you have no interest in, call the companies and ask to be taken off their mailing lists.

  • Article Provided By Alexandra Rowley of Real Simple Magazine

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    Show All Comments
    Rainmaker
    652,546
    Bob & Carolin Benjamin
    East Phoenix Arizona Homes
    Benjamin Realty LLC
    This is all great advice. Very important is to shred anything and everything that has a name on it before putting it into the garbage. Identity theft can happen to anyone. Can't be too careful.
    August 19, 2007 02:03 AM
    Rainmaker
    110,429
    Nancy Brenner
    Roswell Georgia Real Estate Agent
    Referral Associates of Georgia, Inc.

    I am severely unorganized.

    I know where everything is but everyshere you look there's paper!

    I've bookmarked your post to go back to as I try to clean up my paper trail.

    Thanks for the helpful hints.

    August 19, 2007 05:41 AM
    Rainmaker
    348,034
    Debbie Cook
    Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate
    Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc
    We have to be more diligent than ever about shredding real estate documents now.  As agents we deal with paperwork that contains so much personal info.  I work form home a lot so I bought a shredder after gettting 32 offers on a property once (back in the good old days).  The seller only accepted one of them - so I had 31 offers (20-40 pages each) all containing buyers very personal info - financial info sheets, SSN#'s, bank verifications of deposit, deposit checks and etc. to shred.  I could just imagine the people that pick up my trash having a field day with all this info.
    August 19, 2007 05:53 AM
    Rainmaker
    562,942
    Cheryl Johnson
    Cheryl Johnson, Bob Taylor Properties, Inc., Los Angeles, CA

    Paper clutter is a devil to keep up with  --   Junk mail, catalogs, credit card offers -- It is so easy to miss a bill or the occasional piece of real correspondence in the mountain of junk.  Agents. please be mindful of this before you spend money on your next newsletter mail out!   How many of those newsletters go straight into the recycling bin?  :-)

    August 19, 2007 06:25 AM
    Rainer
    23,842
    Earlene Myers
    Your Client Connection
    Professional Greetings
    I have found it helpful not to even bring junk mail and papers into the house.  On my way in from getting the mail, I do a quick perusal of all recylable papers, flyers, sales brochures, etc., that I do not have an interest in and throw them in the recycle bin.  I feel a little guilty about throwing away things like this as it seems so wasteful; however, if you you don't purge things promptly, it can take over your home.  I agree that shredding is crucial too; shred it, bag it, recycle.
    August 19, 2007 06:28 AM
    Rainer
    274,098
    Adam Waldman
    Realtor - Long Island
    Westcott Group Real Estate Company
    Erica - This is great information.  Now all I need is someone to come to my house and threaten me with bodily harm if I don't implement these strategies (LOL).  Seriously, I'm going to try and use these strategies.  Thanks for the info.
    August 19, 2007 01:19 PM
    Rainmaker
    630,709
    Brian Block
    Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate
    RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President
    Erica, I open my mail over the garbage can.  Otherwise stuff can pile up quickly.  I also need to start reducing my magazine subscriptions.  It's hard to find the time to read them all and they end up all over the house.
    August 20, 2007 12:20 PM
    Ambassador
    883,752
    Margaret Woda
    Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation
    Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Crofton, MD 21114
    Some great ideas here, Erica.  There are days when I feel like we're drowning in mail.
    August 21, 2007 08:03 PM
    Rainmaker
    1,072,243
    Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375
    Real Estate Services You can Trust!
    Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions"

    Erica, informative post and some good ideas and reminders. 

     

    September 11, 2007 08:40 PM
    Anonymous
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    Rainmaker
    30,001

    Erica Wallace

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