Day 17: Mail {31 Days of Easy Decluttering} | From Overwhelmed to Organized: Day 17: Mail {31 Days of Easy Decluttering}

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 17: Mail {31 Days of Easy Decluttering}

Welcome back to 31 Days of Easy Decluttering!  If you've missed any of the previous posts, there are links to all of them at the end of this post.

Today's Easy Decluttering Project

Today we're talking about decluttering your mail.  The thing about mail is it never stops.  It just keeps coming in your door... day after day.  If it's not dealt with, the mail can easily pile up and then other papers can accumulate with it.  And before you know it, you've got an overwhelming mess of paperwork!

Let's stop the madness!  Today, you'll declutter any existing piles of mail (you can include newspapers, flyers, etc. as well).  And you'll establish a plan for dealing with your mail on a daily basis so it doesn't become overwhelming again.

Easy Decluttering Steps

Throughout the series, you'll follow these steps to complete each daily task.  {Don't forget to take before and after pictures to share too!}

Note: The main purpose of this series is to declutter so don't get overwhelmed doing too much cleaning.  Once your house is less cluttered it will be easier to clean so you can always come back and do it later!

Also, if you have the time, you can organize the space while you're doing this step, but don't get overwhelmed with too much organizing this month.  We're focused on decluttering!

Purging Tips for Your Mail

Follow the steps listed above (if you have a designated mail space that's out of control - otherwise just jump to the purging!), and use these tips as you purge (step #5) your mail:

    • Start by gathering ALL your mail into one spot (find any places that it has piled up and bring it all together so you can deal with it once and for all)
    • Throw out any garbage you come across in your piles
    • Recycle or shred any papers you do not need (outdated flyers, empty envelopes, junk mail, coupons you don't use, etc.)
    • These steps should already reduce your pile significantly
    • Sort through your pile of paperwork to keep and group like items together (bills to be paid, paperwork to file, items to follow-up on, etc.)
    • Take care of each category (pay bills, file papers, follow-up on things).  If you don't have time right now to do this, then set up a time when you will take care of it.

    That should take care of the backlog of mail!  Now, to keep it decluttered in the future, follow these simple steps:
    1. Throw out or recycle EVERY piece of incoming mail that you do not need, as you bring it into the house {if it helps, keep a shredder and a recycle bin near your main entryway!}
    2. Establish a place to keep each category of mail that you need to deal with later {use files, boxes or baskets to create a place for the categories you need:  inbox, to pay, to follow-up, to file, to read, etc.}
    3. Designate certain days of the week or month to deal with each of these categories of mail so they don't pile up
    4. If other people bring in the mail, train them to use your new system too
    If you follow these steps, you should never have overwhelming piles of mail to deal with!

    My Mail System

    I didn't always have a good system for dealing with mail, and it often piled up near our front door, on the kitchen table, and on our living room table.  But over the last year or so, we've been following a pretty simple system and I can honestly say that I'm no longer overwhelmed by mail!  Here's what I do.

    I quickly thumb through our mail and make quick decisions on what to do with it.  We recycle probably 75% or more of what comes in our door and I just toss it in the recycle bin right away.

    If there are coupons that I want to keep, I put them in my coupons folder in my command centre

    I follow up on most things right away, so I don't have things hanging over my head (most of it doesn't take very long anyway!).  So I add dates from invitations or meetings to our calendar or add reminders to our weekly notes (both are at the top of the command centre, above the hanging folders).  Then I keep the invitations or agendas or notices in the "Activities and Special Events" folder.  It's great having everything in one spot!

    I've gone paperless with all our bills, so I don't need to deal with them in the mail anymore.  I can't believe how much less paper clutter I have now!

    When I have to file something that came in the mail, I head straight to the desk in our dining room (it's right off the kitchen so it's still nice and close) and file the paperwork in my file drawer.

    The shredder is beside this desk too, so if I need to shred something I can do it right away.

    If there's something I want my hubby to see or something I want to read later, I put it on our living room coffee table and then make sure we take care of it before the end of the day.  

    It all happens quite quickly... front door, recycle bin, command centre, desk, coffee table {we're in a small townhouse, so all of those places are really only a few steps from each other on the main floor!}.

    I only usually touch each piece of mail once.  And I don't leave anything laying around, so there are no piles growing anywhere.  It's been working for us for about a year and my hubby does pretty much the same routine when he brings in the mail.  The only time piles start to surface is if we're both sick or something, but then I just make an effort to "catch up" as soon as possible. 

    Yay for easy solutions to dealing with what was an overwhelming problem!

    Pictures and Links to Inspire You

    My system works for me, but if you would like to see how other people deal with their mail, here are some other examples.

    *Please pin from the original source if you choose to pin these pictures.  If you want to pin this post please use the button at the top.

    If You're On A Roll...

    Good luck with today's decluttering project!  I'd love to hear how you did, so please leave a comment below, or on FacebookGoogle+, or Pinterest!

    Don't forget to share your pictures in the Facebook post for today or use the hashtag #31DaysEasyDecluttering when you pin your pictures. I'll repin some of my favourites.  Plus don't forget I'll have a link party at the end of the series where you can share your photos too!

    How much mail and paperwork did you declutter today?  How do you organize your mail to keep the clutter at bay?  Any purging tips I missed?

    Happy organizing decluttering!

    Here are all the posts in the series.

    I link up at these great parties - Check them out!


    1. Hi! Found your blog thru Ducks in a Row, love your tips, definitely going to follow you! =]

      1. Thanks Jessica! Glad to help :) I just checked out your blog... looks great! Welcome to the world of blogging :) Following you on G+. I look forward to getting to know you!

    2. Another way to lessen mail clutter is to get paperless billing for utilities, if they offer it. That way, you have less paper trail to worry about and have an easier way to access it at the click of the mouse.

      Ruby Badcoe


    I love hearing from my readers! This is a great place to ask questions, answer questions, and share your organizing tips. Thank you so much for commenting! I look forward to getting to know you better :)

    {Note: if you're using Safari, I probably won't see your comment since Safari and Blogger aren't playing well together :( Please comment with a different browser so I don't miss it. Thanks!}