Mail Organization Hall of Fame: How Readers Deal With Their Daily Mail
This week's challenge was all about mail organization, and making sure that you both kept track of your incoming mail and also your outgoing mail.
To do this the mission for Organizing Mail Week, as part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, you were asked to create a home mail organizer center to keep track of the daily influx of mail and other papers every home receives.
Many participants took this challenge and shared what they'd accomplished with me, and I've shared what they've done below.
If what you see inspires you, I'd love it if you'd take the challenge too.
Once you've tackled this week's task take pictures of the organizer or center you've created or set up, and share them with me in the Home Organization Hall of Fame. I'd love to add your accomplishments to this page too!
So, without further ado, scroll down to see the ideas shared by other participants in the challenge.
Top photo courtesy of kla4067, and second photo courtesy of Luz
In addition, here are a couple of suggestions from readers of how they deal with their mail daily to give you ideas for what you can do:
Lorie's Daily Routine:
My husband brings it in when he comes home from work.
I quickly go through it, and if it's a magazine it goes to the appropriate person, bill goes into the organizer on kitchen counter (it has 4 slots - one for medical, one for home bills, one for medical referrals, one for important info), save the weekly fliers for the 2 stores I shop, and everything else goes into the recycling bin.
It takes 2 - 3 minutes.
Angelina's Daily Routine:
I go through the mail as I pull it out of the mail box.
Junk? It goes into the recycle bin outside.
Bill? It goes on the counter in the kitchen. Once bill is paid, they go into appropriate folder.
Magazine? If it's the ones we have a free subscription to they go on the table. Otherwise, they go into the recycling.
The Key Is Dealing With It Daily And Keeping It In A Designated Location
As you can see from these example routines it is important to quickly sort, toss (or recycle), and then place items in their correct location.
Part of this week's challenge is to create the designated area for where to put the mail you need to actually deal with later. The submissions below show ideas for how to containerize that mail.
But remember, as a reader, Christine says, keep it simple. She said: "Mail is either 1. Trash; 2. Action now; or 3. Action Later. So you only need a folder, pouch or tray for the Action Later. Keep it simple."
The first step in the process of organizing your mail is to clear a spot somewhere in your home to hold all that mail in one place, and if you already have such a place, to get it decluttered and ready to use more efficiently now.
Below you'll see lots of ideas of people's decluttered and organized spots in their homes for this exact task, with lots of variations depending on what they need and can fit into the space.
In addition, here's a before and after set of photos from a reader, Karla, who already had her mail organizing center set up in her home, but used this challenge to get it decluttered.
Karla said, "My counter tops are already part of my daily routine, but the family mail center is the exception. I took care of that little bugger today!"
1 basket - better than nothing but still too jumbled
Bec from 2012 - The Year Of Challenges worked on this week's challenge and came up with a solution which she described as a "300% improvement on dumping the papers on the bench, and much better than the 1 basket system."
Previously Bec had been like many of us, and when she came in the door she just dumped the mail onto the kitchen table or counter and it got out of control.
Therefore, the first thing she tried was a single basket on top of the microwave (see the third picture) where she would place the papers, making a designated area for them.
That was better than just indiscriminately tossing them places, but it still became a jumbled mess.
So when this week's challenge came along she decided to get a five drawer sorter and use that to further sort the papers as soon as they came in the door.
She explained: "I have labeled the drawers so we know what's to go where. The top drawer has pens, pencils, scissors, sticky tape etc. The next one is Nigel's mail. The 3rd one is my mail. The 4th one is junk mail and the last one is miscellaneous/papers to be actioned."
She and her husband got on board, together, with the new system, and whoever comes in with the mail is supposed to immediately sort it into the correct drawer.
What she didn't mention, but obviously is a major part of any mail organization system, is then a designated routine time to go through all these papers and deal with them -- pay the bills, file, toss, or take other action on them.
This is a great start though Bec! Awesome job.
Here are some similar organizer items you could use if you like Bec's method:
Stephanie sent in the photo above of her mail organizing center. She said:
"I was really excited to check out the mail center ideas because I'd tried one a few years ago and it didn't succeed very well. So I clicked the link and the mail center was just like the one I'd tried before, but with different file organization. So I got mine back out, did some relabeling and we're in business!
Also, there's a phone board below the upper cabinets. I had scraps of paper with important phone numbers lying everywhere that I was afraid I'd lose (they were the only copy in some cases).
I kept wishing I could hang a corkboard, but the area was too small and awkward for one. So I found some 6x6 cork squares at the local craft store and hung them with the double-sided foam tape that came with them. I cut one in half to create a few 6x3 tiles and an awkward space is now a great storage area.
I also relocated our battery charger to this area. While not normally a kitchen item, this area is away from food prep and I had a small lower drawer there that was not being used. Now I store extra batteries there so they're all together and off the countertops."
Great job Stephanie!
Below is another photo, sent in by a reader, Roberta, who also used a similar mail organization system. She said, "Part of my paper clutter problem is that my filing system is upstairs. When I sat down to deal with mail/bills, (call me lazy) I didn't want to go upstairs to then file them. So they just piled up! No More!
Now my short term filing (current year) is in my NEW mail center and long term files remain upstairs. I also brought my shredder down to the new mail center, so I could deal with those papers immediately. It's working!"
Ali says: "Found this basket a few months back - works great for holding my project folders."
In addition, the photo below was sent in by a reader, Jen, who said, "Our apartment is kind of small so our family command center is in 3 places all within 10 feet of each other. Here is our mail and key baskets area on our kitchen counter."
If you'd like to use a basket for holding your mail, here are some that are available:
She explained that there were a couple areas on her kitchen counter that seemed to accumulate clutter quickly, and one of those was her mail area.
She said: "This spot tends to collect papers, projects and items that need to go downstairs or be put away. Mail that doesn't require my immediate attention gets put in the mail holder and builds up. It gets cleared off regularly, but I thought it could use a little sprucing up."
So what she did was add some cute card stock to the picture slots on her office supplies holder, which has a mail slot in the back, just to have everything labeled and nicer looking.
Has This Inspired You To Get Organized Now?
As you can see from the submissions above, there are lots of ways to organize your mail within your home.
But whatever method you choose I hope you've been inspired to put it all in a designated place and sort through it regularly.
Once you've taken this week's challenge I'd love for you to share the pictures of your home mail organizer center, and I'll add the best ones to the page or site. You can share your pictures and ideas here.
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