Organizing and Sorting Mail

One monster that needs to be tamed daily is sorting mail! That would be the paper snail mail we get six days a week. Most people bring it in the house and throw it in a pile on a table or countertop, depending what’s closest. If left unattended, the pile will grow. You could potentially miss paying bills and rack up late fees. Or, you could be unaware of a big fat check in there! Of course, there is plenty of junk mail that comes into our homes too. Here is an organized way of sorting mail to make sure everything gets dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner.

Incoming Mail Organizer

Put together a small organizing station for sorting mail. You can use a small hanging file holder, or a small file box that holds folders. There are a lot of choices out there on the market, or you can probably even come up with something on your own.

Make a file folder for each of the following suggested categories:

  • To Pay – bills and anything needing to be paid
  • To Act – anything you need to do something about (make a call, write a letter, etc.)
  • To File – papers that need to be filed in your main home filing system such as bank statements, medical results, etc.
  • To Enter – things that need to be input into your computer
  • To Shred – papers that need to be shredded before being thrown away
  • To Read – items that you intend to read at a later time like a magazine or catalog

Actually, you can adjust the categories to suit your personal needs. I like to keep a folder just for receipts which I then enter into my money program on the computer regularly. You may want to keep a folder for kids school papers that need to be acted on, or one for someone else’s mail for them to go through themselves.

Instructions for Sorting Mail

When you come into the house with the mail, attend to it right away. It should only take a couple minutes. If there is something else urgent that needs to be taken care of, then do so, but get to your mail ASAP.

Your mail sorting files should be near the door where you come in with the mail. For many of us, the kitchen counter seems to be where mail gets plopped down, so that’s a perfect spot. See what makes sense in your own home, a particular table, desk, etc.

Open everything and make a decision on it right then and there. Put it into one of the file folders you labeled.

Toss any junk mail into the garbage or recycle bin that should be keep close by.

Another great thing to have on hand if possible is a small shredder. That way you can deal with items that need to be destroyed to protect your identity right away. Otherwise, you can put them into that file labeled “To Shred” and take care of them on a regular basis when the folder starts to get a little full.

Keeping Up With the Mail

This system for sorting mail is great for keeping your incoming mail under control, but it still requires you to be an active participant! You need to keep up with it, and you need to make sure you deal with the file folders regularly. What good is a “To Pay” folder if you never go in and pay those bills!

This system will prevent piles of unopened mail growing across your counters and flat surfaces. It will also keep important mail together for you to act on it when you’re ready.

Make this part of your daily routine and in no time, it’ll be as natural as brushing your teeth!

Reducing Junk Mail

I’m not going to rewrite the book on how to reduce your junk mail. There are several great resources out there to help you with this task. Here are a couple to check into:

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Detailed information about privacy rights and how to reduce your junk mail. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is a Nonprofit Consumer Information and Advocacy Organization.

Catalog Choice A free service that lets you communicate your mail preferences to companies. Choose which catalogs you no longer wish to receive. Reduce the amount of unsolicited mail in your mailbox and go paperless.

TreeHugger Shows you ways to stop junk mail, either on your own or with the help of certain organizations and gives the pros and cons of each.


Leave Sorting Mail and return to Home Filing System

Return to Plan and Organize Life Home Page


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