Day 17: Mail {31 Days of Easy Decluttering}

Welcome back to 31 Days of Easy Decluttering! If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, there are links to them all here.

Today’s Easy Decluttering Project

Today we’re talking about decluttering your mail. If it’s not dealt with, the mail can easily pile up and then other papers can accumulate with it.  And before you know it, you’ve got an overwhelming mess of paperwork!

Today, you’ll declutter any existing piles of mail (you can include newspapers, flyers, etc. as well).  And you’ll establish a plan for dealing with your mail on a daily basis so it doesn’t become overwhelming again.

Easy Decluttering Steps

Throughout the series, you’ll follow these steps to complete each daily task.  {Don’t forget to take before and after pictures to share too!}

Note: The main purpose of this series is to declutter so don’t get overwhelmed doing too much cleaning.  Once your house is less cluttered it will be easier to clean so you can always come back and do it later!

Also, if you have the time, you can organize the space while you’re doing this step, but don’t get overwhelmed with too much organizing this month.  We’re focused on decluttering!

Purging Tips for Your Mail

Follow the steps listed above (if you have a designated mail space that’s out of control – otherwise just jump to the purging!), and use these tips as you purge (step #5) your mail:

  • Start by gathering ALL your mail into one spot (find any places that it has piled up and bring it all together so you can deal with it once and for all)
  • Throw out any garbage you come across in your piles
  • Recycle or shred any papers you do not need (outdated flyers, empty envelopes, junk mail, coupons you don’t use, etc.)
  • These steps should already reduce your pile significantly
  • Sort through the pile of paperwork you’re keeping and group like items together in 3 broad categories – action items (e.g. bills to be paid), reference items (e.g. statements to file), and short-term reference items (e.g. an invitation to a party)
  • Take care of each category – if you don’t have time right now to do this, then set up a time when you will take care of it.

That should take care of the backlog of mail!  Now, to keep it decluttered in the future, follow these simple steps:

  1. Throw out or recycle EVERY piece of incoming mail that you do not need, as you bring it into the house {if it helps, keep a shredder and a recycle bin not too far from your main entryway!}
  2. Establish a place to keep each category of mail that you need to deal with later {use files, boxes or baskets to create a place for the categories you need}
  3. Designate certain days of the week or month to deal with each of these categories of mail so they don’t pile up
  4. If other people bring in the mail, train them to use your new system too

If you follow these steps, you should never have overwhelming piles of mail to deal with!

My Mail System

I didn’t always have a good system for dealing with mail, and it often piled up near our front door, on the kitchen table, and on our living room table.  But over the last several years, we’ve been following a pretty simple system and I can honestly say that I’m no longer overwhelmed by mail!  Here’s what I do.

First, I switched everything I could to electronic instead of paper copies. Bank statements, credit card bills, utility bills, etc. That drastically reduced the amount of mail we receive and it’s much less overwhelming. If you haven’t done that, I highly recommend it.

Now, with the mail that does come in, I quickly flip through everything and make quick decisions on what to do with it.  We recycle probably 75% or more of what comes in our door and I just toss it in the recycle bin right away.

I set up these folders years ago, and while my command centre has changed a bit over the years, it still is the primary place we keep papers that we need access to from time to time.

I follow up on most things right away, so I don’t have things hanging over my head (most of it doesn’t take very long anyway!). 

When I do have to file something that came in the mail, I head to my office and either file it right away or add it to a pile of papers to file later and then I deal with that pile from time to time.

The shredder is in my office too, so if I need to shred something I can do it right away.

If there’s something I want my hubby to see or something I want to read later, I put it on our living room coffee table and then make sure we take care of it before the end of the day.  

It all happens quite quickly… front door, recycle bin, command centre, office, coffee table {we’re in a small house, so all of those places are really only a few steps from each other on the main floor!}.

I usually only touch each piece of mail once.  And I don’t leave anything laying around, so there are no piles growing anywhere.  It’s been working for us for years now and my hubby does pretty much the same routine when he brings in the mail.  The only time piles start to surface is if we’re both sick or something, but then I just make an effort to “catch up” as soon as possible. 

Yay for easy solutions to dealing with what was an overwhelming problem!

Pictures and Links to Inspire You

My system works for me, but if you would like to see how other people deal with their mail, here are some other examples.

Here’s a video with different options for dealing with your mail. You don’t necessarily need to buy products to help you deal with your mail, but having a designated place for your mail to go will help avoid the clutter it can cause.

*Please share from the original source if you choose to share these pictures. If you want to share this post please use the image at the top.

If You’re On A Roll…

Good luck with today’s decluttering project!  I’d love to hear how you did, so please leave a comment below and use the hashtag #31DaysEasyDecluttering when you share your pictures.

How much mail and paperwork did you declutter today?  How do you organize your mail to keep the clutter at bay?  Any purging tips I missed?

If you need help decluttering, contact me for in-person organizing services in the Mississauga area, or virtual organizing services anywhere else.

Happy organizing decluttering!