This is not going to surprise any of you, but piles of paper make me nuts. And the quickest way for me to CrazyTown (well, one of the quickest, there are several) is to see a pile of mail sitting on the counter. I can’t take it. I can hear things going unpaid. I can feel the pile growing, taking on a life of it’s own. Plotting how it will attack me in my sleep. (I have a rich imagination.)
Here’s my system to keep those mail piles at bay:
- I check my mail daily.
- When it comes into the house, it doesn’t get set down. I deal with it immediately. Even if my toddler wants a glass of milk. He waits. Grumbles, but waits.
- I sort the mail into 3 piles: to be recycled, to be paid, to be filed.
- I actually open up every piece of mail (other than junk mail) and glance at it to make sure there aren’t any red flags or inaccuracies of any kind. More than once, this has saved me hassle and time later on.
- I file the ones to be filed in my large chronologically-organized plastic tote, which I process and store at the end of every year. And I file the “to be paid” bills in a green expanding folder that holds only those items. Then, when it’s time to pay bills, I simply grab that expanding folder and head to my computer, knowing everything is in one place.
I’ll also admit that this is often accomplished while I whisper/sing “I’m better than the mail. I’m better than the mail.” in a creepy singsongy voice.
The system itself is not at all groundbreaking, I realize. I think the key, for me, is the habit. The fact that I do the same thing every single day without fail. I don’t sometimes do it in one room and then sometimes in another. I don’t do it every other day. I do it every single day and so it always gets done.
(Aside: this is really the answer to the question I get a lot: how do you get so much done? Well, you see, I’m absolutely the single most rigid person you’ll ever meet. I’m just this side of robotic most of the time. *Smiles sweetly.*)
This task takes me less than 2 minutes/day. But it’s totally worth it to be able to say: you won’t find a single pile of mail in my house.
Originally posted in November, 2013. Reposted because we’ve gained a whole bunch of new Penelopes who need to bear witness to my mail habits. Really.