How to organize mail

Before you start, I recommend having the following supplies available:

  • shredder
  • Recycling bin
  • Trash bin
  • Calendar
  • Two trays (one for incoming mail and one for outgoing mail)

I highly recommend setting up a mail station wherever you keep your files.

Keep in mind that there’s really only four options when it comes to incoming mail. You can: Toss it, Shred It, File It or Put it in an action file (ie. To Do, To Read, To Pay, etc.)

If you are not in the habit of going through your mail daily, try scheduling a time in your appointment book or calendar so that you make the time to open your mail every day. This will prevent the mail from piling up.

When going through your mail:

  • Immediately toss all junk mail.
  • Shred anything that has your personal information on it that you are not interested in (ie. credit card offers).
  • File all statements or other mail in their appropriate files (which should be right there next to you)
  • Any items that need attention should be filed in your Action files. If it is a bill then put it in your “Bills to Pay” file, if it is an invitation, put it in your Upcoming Events file.
  • inally, don’t forget to put any important dates or due dates on your calendar!

This whole process should take a few minutes. If you take just a few minutes each day, you will ultimately avoid having the mail pile up day after day. It will also avoid needless late fees or penalties from unpaid bills.

Remember to keep it simple!

Top 10 reasons to get rid of things

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We all have too much stuff. The fact is, we never use 80% of what we own. Below is a top ten list of reasons to help you make the decision to “get rid of it”:

  1. You don’t need it anymore – You’re over it.
  2. Someone else does need it – Cell phones, for example, are frequently refurbished and given to victims of domestic violence.
  3. There’s just too much stuff – If there’s no place to put it, get rid of it!
  4. It doesn’t work anymore – FYI, chances are the parts can probably be recycled.
  5. It doesn’t fit you anymore – Whether you’ve lost weight or gained weight, whatever the case may be, get rid of it. You can get a tax deduction for donations.
  6. It no longer suits your lifestyle -You’re moving, redecorating or downsizing or, you’re just ready for a new look.
  7. You can get value from it – Sell it on Ebay, donate it and get a tax deduction, have a garage sale or set up an estate sale.
  8. Less stuff makes your life easier. There’s less to clean. Getting rid of clutter will reduce housework by 40%.
  9. It’s expired -Oh, just get rid of it.
  10. Because “Less is More” – Ludwig Miles van der Rohe

If you’re still not sure whether you should get rid of it or not, ask yourself the following questions:

Papers

  1. Is the information still current?
  2. Can the document be duplicated if needed?
  3. What is the worst thing that can happen if I get rid of it?
  4. Is it a duplicate?
  5. How long do I need to keep it?
  6. Do I need it for tax, legal, insurance, or warranty issues?
  7. Can I find the information some place else?

Clothing

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Does it fit?
  3. Is it too worn?
  4. Is it out of style?
  5. Do I feel great in it?
  6. Does it match anything else?

Other Items

  1. Is it broken?
  2. Do I use it?
  3. Will I really need it?
  4. Does it make others happy to see it?
  5. If I keep it, will I remember I have it?
  6. If I was moving, would I want to pay to have it packed and shipped?
  7. Can I borrow or purchase another one if I need it?
  8. Does it make me happy?
  9. Am I keeping it because someone else gave it to me even though I don’t like it?

So, get started today by getting rid of the things that either have no value (sentimental or monetary) or no longer have a place in your life. Ready, set, go!

Too much to do and not enough time?

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How often have you thought to yourself, “If I only had more time,” or, ”I wish there were more hours in the day?”

Do you think if you had more time that you would get more rest or slow down? Well, chances are if you had more hours in the day, you would probably fill them up with more things to do instead of creating time to take a much-needed break.

The truth is you don’t really need more time in the day. What you really need are strategies to better manage your time.

The problem we face in this 24/7 world is that we tend to forget to make time for ourselves. We forget that when we get run down, we put ourselves at a higher risk of being out of commission. Unfortunately, most of us are only willing to slow down and rest once we get sick or reach the point of exhaustion.

Here’s some Time Management Tips to help you avoid getting to that point:

Make a “To-Do” list. Do not rely on your memory. Keep one, and I emphasize only one, “To Do” list! This list should include all the tasks you have to do this week.

Because we are all so busy, you probably have a list that is way too long. Choose what you can realistically handle. That does not mean you won’t get to other things, it just allows you to take some of the pressure off that comes with feeling like you have to do everything now. You will need to consider which items on your “To Do” list are number one priorities. Those items that have priority could be highlighted, circled or underlined to indicate importance. Remember to cross off or delete the items you have completed at the end of each day and add any that may have surfaced during the day. By prioritizing you are wisely taking control of your time.

Young Women working using laptop

Delegate whenever possible. Moms and Dads, that includes you. Your children as young as 3 years old can get involved in cleaning up after themselves and should. Next time you tell them “clean your room” or “put your toys away” explain what that means. Does that mean shoving everything in the closet? Throwing everything under the bed?? Piling things on top of one another? Show them how to do it. You will probably have to show them several times, but, like everything else, they will eventually get it.

Employers, you can delegate by allowing your employees to take on more responsibilities. Take the time to train your employees and entrust them with a little at a time. In the beginning, make sure to follow up, ask if they have any questions and periodically evaluate their progress. Delegating will pay off enormously in the end as you will have more time to do the important things that only you can tend to. Your employees will feel more valued as well.

Open your mail every day. Do one of following four things with each piece of mail you open:

  • Toss it – Throw away anything that you don’t want or need, like junk mail.
  • Shred it – Shred anything that has your personal information on it that you don’t want or need.
  • File it – File those things that you do need but not right away.
  • Take Action – These are the items that need your attention – like a bill to pay or a call that you have to make.

The longer you wait to open your mail, the more it’s going to pile up and become overwhelming. So, open your mail each day, follow the above instructions, and you will be able to streamline your paperflow to avoid unnecessary clutter and piles of paper. The goal is to touch each piece of paper just once and decide what to do with it at that time.

Plan your day. Begin your day with a plan and end your day with a plan.

Set aside at least 10 minutes at the beginning of every day to plan your day:

  • What calls and meetings do you need to prepare for?
  • What are the three top things you’d like to accomplish today?
  • What is the most important thing you want to accomplish this morning?

Set aside at least 10 minutes at the end of the day to wrap it up:

  • What important things did you accomplish today?
  • What meetings, calls and activities do you need to follow up on?
  • Who do you need to follow up with tomorrow?

Don’t forget to update your “To Do” list accordingly. Managing time is more than just the ability to layout an organized schedule. Time management means setting priorities that communicate clearly what’s really important, making wise decisions that help set realistic goals, and setting firm boundaries that allow you to keep the promises you make to yourselves and others. By managing your time efficiently, you have the power over how productive you can be.

Just the facts

Being organized can help save you time and money, increase productivity and reduce stress. In a recent survey, NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers, found that:

  • 96% of those surveyed felt that they could save time each day if they were more organized at home.
  • 91% felt they could be more efficient at work if they were better organized.
  • 71% indicated their quality of life would improve with more organization.

As Harry Browne once said, “Everything you want in life has a price connected to it. There’s a price to pay if you want to make things better, a price to pay just for leaving things as they are, a price for everything.”

So, weigh the price you pay for leaving things as they are against the price you pay to make it better. If you decide that you want to get organized, you will need to invest some time and energy but it will be well worth it.

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Closet space before…

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Closet space after!

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