Even though email has taken over our lives, we still get a ton of mail. Between catalogs, magazines, mailers, bills, personal letters, and newsletters our kitchen table used to be full of piles of papers we never felt we had time to sort. We even had a cooler bin full of papers to burn in the garage. It was a mess. So a few months ago we put together our own mail station right next to our front door, and it has made such a difference. Everything we need to process the mail is essentially in one location (like a kit). Now the mail has a place to go, to be sorted, and to be taken care of.
Here’s what you’ll need to set up your very own family mail station:
- Dedicated Space: a side table, specific counter section, shelf, wall zone
- Disposal Equipment: trash bin, recycling bin, shredder
- File Organizers: file folders, baskets, standing organizers, wall unit
- Mail Supplies: stamps, address labels, envelopes, letter opener, pens, stationery
Here’s how to use it to manage your mail:
- Inbox/Outbox: Baskets or trays are great for handling small piles of mail (just don’t let them get too full!)
- Disposal: To avoid clutter, get rid of obvious junk mail before it even hits your inbox. Shred files with any personal info and recycle or trash the rest.
- Organization: Sort your inbox and dispose of any remaining junk mail. Then temporarily file the rest for use. There are a few ways to do this (see my post on organizing emails for an alternative), but here’s what works for us using a 3-section file bin:
- Important – bills, membership renewals, letters to respond to
- Hold – appointment reminders, tax forms, schedules
- Filing: Periodically review your mail bins to dispose of old papers and put items to save in your home filing system (ex. filing cabinet or similar). Cycle magazines when your bin is full. Mark any mailers or catalogs that you don’t need and unsubscribe.
- Optional Supplies: Depending on your needs, here are a few other suggestions for items to keep close by:
- Blank Greeting Cards
- Packing Tape
- Post Office Hours
- Home Management Binder
I hope this helps you to get control of your mail situation (remember, it’s the first step to your home filing process). For us it’s been one simple task made so much easier!