Getting the mail as a little girl was the highlight of my week. I received handwritten letters from girls all over the world. I’d then take the time to write back to each of them, sharing moments of my life.
After learning to drive and zooming off to college, the content of my mail started to change… how did the credit card companies marketing department find me anyway?! The realities of adult life start to creep into every avenue. Instead of girls chats through paper, it’s learning to sort through all the noise of junk mail.
The big question is, how does one actually manage the stacks of paper that we receive each year. It’s an adventure I’m still on too, but I’ve done some intentional experimenting. Through the process, I discovered 3 helpful tips that will create efficiency, get you out from behind the stack of papers, and back to time with loved ones.
Don’t touch it twice
It takes time to build a new habit into your life, but this one will be helping your future self. Take the time to sort through your mail as soon as you get it into the house. If you have a PO Box, you can do the sorting as soon as you pull the mail out of the box. Recycle the junk mail, shred mail/paperwork that you don’t need but has your name/address, and put bills/important mail in an “inbox” that you schedule to sort as a batch effort. During this batch effort, take time to pay the bills, file paperwork needed for taxes, and digitize any receipts that are important.
With today’s technology, we have so much available to us digitally. Use that to your advantage. The more you can schedule to be paperless, the better. This will save you time (time = money), and will allow you sort most of your mail in one location. The statements sent from most banks, insurance, and loans are available with an account online, which mean that you no longer have to keep that paperwork outside your computer. Setting up the online bill pay takes time upfront, but will allow you automate that part of your life.
Create a Filing System
You will have those few pieces of paperwork that do need to be kept for taxes or other reasons. Put together a small filing system for this type of paperwork. I’d recommend using a color coding system that coordinates with the type of paperwork and clear labeling for each file. If the information is readily available online, you don’t need a paper copy of it. A digital filing system can also be created to keep your files organized. If you have kids or other family members that receive personal mail to your box, create a filing system that still allows you sort through your mail and gives them the responsibility to sort through theirs.
Keep it simple. These steps do not have to be complex and drawn out. Block out dedicated time to build the habit, set up the automated systems, and create a filing system that works for your needs. It may take a little more time and effort up front but will save loads of time in the long run.