Mail Sorting & Tackling Paper Clutter
I hate paper and I love paper. I am the type of person who still writes paper to-do lists, reads physical books, and loves printed photos. I love hand written letters. But I hate physical mail and physical documents. I hate junk mail, paper bills, paper notices from the bank/car company/vet's office. It is all just clutter to me. While so much is moving to digital and I thank my lucky stars for that, we still have to deal with paper clutter. My water company still sends paper bills, the vet still sends an annual paper reminder for the dogs' check ups, and Ford still feels the need to send me paper reminders to get my oil changed. I have a simple system that I use when I'm sorting mail or paper documents and I thought I'd share it with you. It's perfect for us paper-minimalists. I pay all of my bills online, get most of them sent to me digitally, and use a digital calendar for appointments, so I just need something to contain to small amount of paper I actually have to deal with.
It's super easy to maintain. I've been using this system for over a year now and it has worked really well for us. These sit on my desk in my office, but this is a great compact system for anywhere - a kitchen counter or on a console table in an entry way perhaps? Wherever the paper piles up, put it there. I have five folders here that I labeled with my trusty label maker.
Sort, To-Do, Scan, File, Shred.
As I get the mail throughout the week, I take it up stairs to my office. If I don't have time to go through it right away, it all goes into the Sort folder.
When it's time to sort, anything that's junk gets tossed immediately.
Anything that I need to tend to goes into the To-Do folder. Things like birthday party invitations that need to be responded to, surveys that need to be filled out, bills to be paid, appointments that need to be made, etc. I don't often have time to tend to all of those things immediately, so I put them all in one place to get to when I have time.
The next three are for any paperwork that needs special attention. We keep paper files for very specific items, so anything that needs to be filed goes into that folder. We scan bills and most other documents to store them digitally, so that folder holds things that need to be scanned in (duh). Then anything that gets scanned in, or anything that has sensitive information gets shredded. As I take care of one thing, papers tend to move toward the back of the line until my shred folder is the fullest.
I dedicate Fridays to paperwork and bill paying and having everything in designated spots makes it so much easier for me to get things done so that I'm not spending my precious time sorting through my paper but instead, I'm actually able to be productive.
For magazines and catalogs that I want to read, I keep a magazine file dedicated to unread things.
For coupons, I have an accordion folder that holds all of my loose coupons. That includes digital coupons I've printed and ones I get in the mail. I just throw those in by category and then pull them out when I'm about to make a shopping trip.
And that's it. Stream lined, easy to maintain, and keeps my paper clutter to a minimum. Could you ask for anything more? Maybe for the water company to get with the 21st century?! Until then, this works. :)
Have a most wonderful weekend!