Drowning in Paper – Mail, Recipes, Coupons, Etc?

One of the biggest challenges with organization is discipline. Why is that? Discipline usually means work, and work takes time, and time is something most of us don’t have. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once you take the time to establish a system for getting your papers organized you’ll save tons of time and feel better about the clutter that has surrounded your life.

Here are a few tips for taking control of the paper that flows through your door.
Mail – this is the biggie.
Don’t take the mail out of your mailbox until you have 5 minutes to open, sort, and store it appropriately.

Have a designated space for the types of things that come in through the mail. You can use a “bill” sorter – one of those compartmentalized sorters that has a slot for everyday of the month, a simple note book, or just a set of file folders. Whatever you are using, be sure it is set up in an easy to access place. If you can get to your “storage” system easily, you are more likely to actually stick with your system.

Sort, Store, and Toss in one sitting. As with all things organization, handling it as few times as possible is key to success. When you’re ready to sort your mail, do it near a garbage can. I get most of my mail at a PO Box. I’ve found it really helpful to take advantage of the locked recycle containers and sorting tables that are available there. Everything comes out of envelopes, promotional mailings go into that recycle container along with envelopes, junk mail etc. Those items never make it to my desk. It keeps things very simple. Because I spend so much time on the road, I keep all of my mail in an easy to transport notebook. I’ve included an image here. It’s easy to slip things into each divided section. At the beginning and ending of each day I flip through the notebook to see what needs to be taken care of that day or the next day. When I do my flip through I am also able to remove things that have been taken care of. This is a great method if you need your mail/bills/calendar to be mobile.

Calendar Information
Use one section of your sorting system for your calendar and any flyers, clippings, etc. that you might need for reference later. Make a note on the appropriate date that you have a flyer or the other information filed. This is where I keep a printed copy of the school calendar for my kids.
Notes to Self
If you are regularly jotting things down on scraps of paper, this notebook system works great. Just simply add the note to the correct section of your notebook so it will pop up each day when you do your “flip-through” review. As thngs on the notes get accomplished, you can simply throw them away.

Lastly – Eliminate as much of it as you can. Ask to be removed from mailing lists for catalogs, brochures and other types of promotional materials. If you want to stay aware of what these companies are offering, create a second email account for sales/promotional email subscriptions. That way when you want to see what’s available, you can go to that email account and get caught up on all the latest and greatest from your favorite companies. You can even get the coupon mailers from companies like Target, Walmart and Office Depot right online. You may even find that you save some money by switching over, because you won’t be as tempted to puchase items you really don’t need, just because they’re “On-Sale.” If this makes you nervous try to think – next week there will be other wonderful items “On-Sale” and I’ll have another opportunity to buy something else. 🙂

Recipes and other important tidbits of household information.
Okay, I have to go back to my “Less is More” philosophy. The more you have to look at the less likely it will be to get used. The less you have to look at or through the more likely it will be to get used. If you love to try to recipes, but find yourself covered in them, there are really two options. Limit yourself to the recipes you are going to use immediately. If you clip a recipe choose the day that you will be preparing that meal, clip the recipe to your shopping list and use it right away.
If you’re a recipe collector
Get yourself a 3 ring notebook, a couple of sets of tabbed dividers, some standard 3 hole punched notebook paper, and a roll of scotch tape or some other type of easy to use adhesive. Label each of the Dividers by recipe type, Appetizers, Cakes, Dinners, Breakfast, etc. Now when you clip a recipe, you can simply tape it to a sheet of notebook paper in the appropriate place in your notebook. The lined paper allows you to make notes about the recipe after you’ve prepared it. If the recipe wasn’t good, take it out of the notebook and through it into your recycle bin – remember less is more, if it’s something you won’t use again because it just wasn’t good, there’s no reason to keep it.
Household tips
Tips for cleaning and other tidbits of household information can find a fast easy home in your recipe notebook. Just create a tab for each of those items as well. Some of the tabs might be:
Cleaning, Party Ideas, Decorating ideas, Gardening, etc. Whatever your interests are you’ll find that you make better use of these ideas when you remove them from newspapers, magazines or your computer and put them into an easy to access notebook.
One last tip – if you need to put little “booklet” type things into your notebooks (recipe booklets, etc.) this can be done easily with a “Hold-It” adhesive spine. These little clear plastic strips are half adhesive and half 3 hole punched. Click here to learn more about them. They also work great if you’re creating a notebook for Owners Manuals, Warranty Information, etc. This is a good piece of information to pass on to your hubby. He can add one of these strips to all of the owners manuals for his power tools, TVs, household appliance, etc. and put them all into one notebook quickly and easily. It’s helpful to keep a package of them in a pocket inside your notebook. Click Here for a link to the Hold-it Spines if you need them for your notebooks.

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