Tag Archives: mail

Dedicating Space for Household Management

homeoffice

Do you find your household paperwork doesn’t have a home? Is your bedroom getting used for stashing unmanaged mail? Do you have papers and mail all over the house? Are you frustrated that your home never looks tidy? Many people use a large portion of their kitchen counter to manage notes and mail…and it spills over from there. But the kitchen counter space often doesn’t provide enough room for a tidy work space.

All these scenarios point to the importance of dedicating a space for a household management center.

Location

The ideal location for a household management center is close to where this work usually gets done. Kitchen, dining room, living room are very common areas. Look where your paper is accumulating and see if you can dedicate a bit of space to make it an “official” work area. Active projects need to be out and accessible where you will really work on them. Where does the work actually get done?

If you have a more remote home office but don’t find yourself staging the mail and active projects there, you might find paper clutter creeping into the living space. It would be appropriate to create an active work station more centrally and store overflow and permanent files in the office. For example, if you find yourself most often sitting on your couch paying bills online, can you create a space there to catch incoming bills?

The Critical Bits:

  • Active projects: to-do’s and bills to pay
  • Active reference: family schedules and phone lists
  • Basic office supplies (stamps, envelopes, paperclips, post its)
  • Dedicated containers to get the recycling and shredding out of the way and off the countertop

Nice to Have Nearby:

  • Printer – can be hidden or made wireless so it can be stored in a back room or closet
  • Main household filing system – including past years taxes and permanent records
  • Overstock office supplies
  • Kids’ art portfolios

Instead of berating yourself for being messy, embrace the idea that household management needs dedicated space. And give yourself the gift of organization.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Decluttering, home organizing, homework, Kitchen, Living Room, Office, organizing, Paper, paper organizing, Perspective, Storage, Work

The A.R.T. of Clearing Paper Piles

messy-desk-1

Does this dining room table look inviting?

Have you ever your faced dining room table or kitchen counter covered in paper, taken one look and turned around to find something else to do? Planning to host Thanksgiving dinner by shoving the piles into bags and sticking it in the closet to deal with “later?”

Despite the appearance of being hundreds of items, all paper piles boil down to only 3 types of items: action, reference, or trash.

Action

These are items that need actual action – the “To-Dos.” Bills to pay, calls to make, items to research, forms to return. There are many ways to store this kind of paper but generally they need to be very accessible and fairly visible. For many folks storing them in a filing cabinet is too “out of sight, out of mind.”

Reference

These are items that are purely informational that you want to keep for reference either short or long term:

  • Insurance policies, medical records, financial, tax related, legal, etc.
  • Travel, art, leisure, self growth, parenting, job ideas, etc.

These can take the form of clippings, articles, printouts, and statements, mailed documents, books or magazines. Books and magazines are best stored on a bookshelf, loose papers are best stored in a filing cabinet. Freedom Filer created this concept of “Simplify With The Art Of Filing™” which is a great option for handling all of your reference files.

Trash

Self-explanatory! Shredding, recycling, garbage. It can be helpful to sort your incoming mail while standing over recycling & shredding bags. The quicker it goes out, the less pile-up of true junk happens.

Not being sure if you need to keep something often creates stress, anxiety, and confusion. Check out our prior post: Paper: to Keep or Toss? Problem Solved.

Try This!

Set the timer for 15 minutes and see how far you get with this method.  Enjoy the leftovers from your family meal rather than the aftermath from a hasty clean-up.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Decluttering, home organizing, homework, Office, organizing, Paper, paper organizing, Products, Strategies

The Best Wedding Gift Ever

Your child is getting married or graduating or having a baby…what is the most thoughtful gift you could give them that would last a lifetime? A filing system!

Now, a filing system may sound like the most boring, uninspired gift you could possibly give someone but bear with us while we explain…

A good basic filing system is an essential part of an organized life. Despite the promises of a paperless world, we constantly see people overwhelmed and confused by piles of paper in their homes. Often the problem starts at one of these of these major life events where suddenly the amount and types of paper coming in multiplies exponentially.

For a new graduate, having a central place to manage personal records, job history, and tax documents starts to teach them about leading an adult life.

For couples getting married, having a central place where all important insurance, ownership, certificates, account & tax documents are kept minimizes stress and will help them manage a life that will become increasingly more complicated.

For new parents, having a central place to keep health records, school paperwork, parenting resources, and sports/camp info prevents the stress and inefficiency of searching the house for needed documents. Providing a dedicated box for memorabilia/artwork is a great addition to a filing system.

You can easily set up a basic system in a portable file box, small or large, using categories you create or a kit such as Freedom Filer. The box doesn’t have to be their permanent container; they may already have a filing cabinet or one may be needed once all their papers are gathered.

Basic categories include:

  • Career
  • Health
  • Insurance
  • Finances
  • Personal
  • Resources
  • Vital Documents (passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.)
  • Taxes

Give your loved ones a head start on the challenges of paper management. A gift certificate to a professional organizer to help them integrate their papers into the system and further customize would be icing on the cake!

Leave a comment

Filed under Decluttering, Empty Nest, Paper, paper organizing, Products, professional organizer, School, Storage, Strategies, Wedding

Trick Your Brain To Get Things Done

That stack of mail has been haunting you from the kitchen counter for the past week and you know you “should” go through it but somehow another day passes and it still sits there – now a day taller with the addition of today’s mail.

Do you often find yourself doing everything except the things you’re “supposed” to do? What’s happening? You actually do have the desire and the vision to not have mail piled on the counter, a part of you really wants to dig in and go through it, but something pops up and blocks you from the task.

Studies show that your “lizard brain” is likely kicking in. It is designed to keep you safe when you experience fear. Any uncertainty in our brains turns into fear and activates the lizard brain.

the lizard brain

So why can a seemly innocent pile of mail trigger this? Unopened mail represents possible decisions to make, money to spend and tasks to do. Yikes!

The key to getting started is to trick your lizard brain. You have to take such small steps that you almost don’t realize you’re actually doing part of the project. There are several ways to take steps that are so small they seem almost pointless but actually are moving you forward:

  • Set a time limit – could you tolerate working on the pile for 1 minute? Less? More? find a time amount that feels easy
  • Set an amount limit – could you tolerate looking at 1 piece of mail? Maybe 5? Again, pick an amount that feels so easy it seems ridiculous
  • Cherry pick – is there part of the pile you don’t dread at all? Catalogs, junk mail, etc? Spend a little time only focusing on the easy parts of the pile
  • Do something related but not directly part of the dreaded task – move the recycling bin near the pile, or move the pile near the recycling bin

You don’t have to be motivated. Research shows that motivation is somewhat needless. If you just start, the motivation will come behind it. The key is to keep staying below your fear response.

How low can you go?  The step you take may be TINY!

What’s the smallest baby step you can imagine for different tasks? Give us some examples!

3 Comments

Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, organizing, Paper, Perspective, Strategies, Time Management