Is the mail out of control in your home?
Catalogs and magazines sliding off the tables or counters?
Late charges on bills that got lost in the chaos of your mail piles?
You are not alone. If you can’t seem to keep up with your mail, you want to read this. There is no “one size fits all” system for handling mail but there are a few changes you can make so that your mail is easier to manage. Here are 3 easy changes you can make to simplify your mail routine.
Only have one place for mail to land when it comes into your home. Designate a basket, tray or bin for incoming mail. Let family members know that all incoming mail is to be placed there, no exceptions.
Handle the junk mail and the outer envelopes only once. Have a recycle
or trash bin nearby, as well as a shredder. Immediately toss the junk mail. Open all envelopes and throw the outer envelope away before it lands on the counter or table. If it contains your address or any personal information – shred it.
Really stop and consider how many magazines and catalogs you can successfully read each month. Why not cancel a few subscriptions or get the digital version online? What catalogs are you still getting that you no longer want? If your kids are in high school (or older!) it’s probably time to cancel the Pottery Barn Kids and Oriental Trading Company catalogs.
How to cancel catalogs-
You can find the web address on the catalog and go online to request a cancellation. I have found that trying to find where to do this on a catalog’s website can be frustrating and take too much time. OR
Look at the back of the catalog and locate the phone number. Call them with the catalog in front of you and give them the numbers listed near your name and address. Doing this, I was able to cancel 4 catalogs in just 5 minutes!
There’s more you can do to get a handle on the chaos of your mail, but start by making these 3 easy changes first.
These minor changes represent new habits and will get you moving in the right direction. Get into the habits of doing these things daily and weekly, then you can move towards refining your mail system even more! When you make these 3 easy changes, you will see a noticeable difference and be well on your way to taming the mail.
I met with a client a few weeks ago who wanted to copy her CD collection onto a medium that she could carry with her when she moves into assisted living. This smart lady is not ready for assisted living yet, but she’s planning for it! She had purchased a radio that played music from a usb port.
I set about teaching her how to download her music onto a 32Gb flash drive. (Did you know that storage device will hold over 4000 songs???). We ripped/copied 3 CDs that day. Two weeks later, she had copied over 60 of her CDs!
So now, what about you? What purpose do you have for your CDs? Are you even listening to them? Depending on your use of music, perhaps there is another way or device you could use so that you can downsize some of your collection.
How about those DVDs? Most of my clients have quite the collection and most collections are dusty. They aren’t getting watched…. Sure maybe you have a few that you want to keep for when the grandkids visit. And you may have some all time favorites.
My favorites are The Red Violin and O Brother Where Art Thou; I
am was keeping those until I remembered I can access them on Amazon videos quicker than finding the DVDs and hoping my DVD player still works! With today’s ever-changing electronic platforms and ways to see data, do you need to hold on to all of the DVDs? There’s Netflix, Amazon Prime Movies, and Hulu to name a few….
It’s just food for thought. Now think about your needs and how you can best tackle your CDs and DVDs. Let me know if you have some clever ideas to share!
Do you have a ton of paper staring at you in your office or on your kitchen counter? Most of the time this is a big complaint.
Are some of those papers your monthly bills?
Many of us have files we’ve labeled “Telephone”, “Utilities”, “Water/Garbage”, “Cell Phone”, “Credit Cars”… Sound familiar? We’ve set up these folders because that’s how our parents used to do it. So when we moved out of their home we did the same thing. Only, we hate to file them. Do you really need to keep those bills?
Probably not. While what I am going to say may make you feel a bit queasy or uncomfortable, I say it to help you eliminate the paper monster in your life. No, I am not recommending that everyone go paperless, don’t worry. I am recommending, however, that you embrace technology. Create passwords to your utilities, phone, and credit card accounts so you can access your information online at any time. Get comfortable with their websites so you begin to use this valuable resource. You can look up past bills, see recent statements at the touch of a button. If you are reading this blog then you have access to the internet so use it and eliminate the need to keep all those paper bills.
It’s okay if you still want to get your paper statement (or you can request that they be sent to your email in box). The point here is that you don’t need to file or keep those bills. After you pay a bill, shred it. The information is still there online anytime you need it.
So get comfortable and let go (if you haven’t already) – I double dare ya!
I recommend revamping your paper filing system, when you have time. Although this is not a high priority activity, revamping your file systems will help you save time in the long run. Here are a few reasons why you may have been avoiding this:
- The drawer is jam packed with paper files and there’s no room.
- Once filed, you are not sure you can find it again.
- You don’t know what to name the file.
- The file cabinet itself is ancient and the drawers do not operate properly.
The first two bulleted points above are usually due to not purging your information on a regular basis. At least once a year or every six months, it is a good idea to go through your file drawers and eliminate those paper files that you have not used in the past 12 months. The exception to this would be any files that contain tax or legal information. There are rules for how long to retain that documentation. Ask your CPA or go to www.irs.gov for suggested guidelines. Once you get in the habit and purge on a regular basis, the time it takes to get through your files will shortened considerably.
While some files may need to be kept, some of the information it holds can be purged or updated. For example, you do not need to keep all the prospectuses for your investment portfolio, or at work, there may be updated forms that replace some that you have in your file drawers.
As we add files to our file cabinet we oftentimes complicate the system by micromanaging the data. Think in terms of broad categories. In other words, keep it simple. The fewer the categories, the more success you will have in retrieving your information. When making the decision where to file papers, put like with like. Each piece of paper does not need its own file.
Lastly, if you file cabinet does not function properly then you are less likely to use it. If your file drawers stick or do not close well, consider purchasing a new file cabinet. Your time is certainly worth more than the cost of aggravation over some square box that holds your papers! Use hanging file folders whenever possible. They are a big help in moving files forward and backward to access the information therein. They also are a replacement, not in addition to, manila files.
It may be the case that you shouldn’t use files at all. You have them but never file things in them. There is more than one way to manage the paper information you wish to keep. Here’s an article with more about the variety of ways to file.
“A place for everything and everything in its place” is part of a well used quote that is usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
In reality, The Oxford Book of Quotations states this quote is believed to have been coined as early as the 17th century. It’s a quote that speaks to the need for order. When I ask clients what they envision their space looking like after we work together most say; “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
It so succinctly states the desired outcome of organization for my client’s homes and offices.
I speak on this topic frequently. Today I have made the PowerPoint presentation available to you. The presentation is based on the 4 Organizing Principles I teach.
Purge and Sort
Containers and Labeling
Different strokes for different folks!
It’s a cliche that rings true in the area of organization. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for your organizational needs. It’s important to know your organizing style preference. Take, for example, dealing with the paper in your space. There are three categories of clients when it comes to those who struggle with paper – The Pilot, the Crop Duster, and the Flight Attendant.
- The Pilot: This person loves to “pile it” (that’s why I call them a pilot), leaving ‘Everything Out’ in the open. In their home or office you will find papers stacked vertically. They may be stacked neatly or haphazardly but they are piles nonetheless. These pilots will often say that they know exactly where everything is and they’re right… it’s in a pile! Are they really comfortable organizing this way? The answer is yes.
- The Crop Duster: This person has it all spread out. Just like a little crop duster, making sure to cover every nook and cranny. Every horizontal surface is covered with papers. When the crop duster person begins to think about getting organized with file folders, they are instantly overwhelmed. Their brain tells them “out of sight is out of mind” so having everything visual is a comfort that allows them to feel more in control. They have an ‘Everything Out’ organizational style.
- The Flight Attendant: Visualize the flight attendant on a plane – you walk onto a plane, they have everything neat as a pin and are smiling brightly. But they have a secret place, a closet of sorts. There, all of the tools for their job are hidden away – the beverage cart, coffee carafes, garbage bins, magazines, and the like. A person who organizes like a flight attendant has neat and orderly files and likes everything put away in a file cabinet, out of sight. They are of the ‘Nothing Out’ style preference.
As a professional organizing coach, it’s critical to understand a client’s dominant organizational style preference. This is the basis from which to build systems that will not just address the client’s problem areas, but allow them to work within the bounds of their own style.
More Examples of Organizational Style Preferences:
Everything Out vs. Nothing Out
There was a case study presented in which a small business owner, who had a team of twenty salespeople, imposed his ‘Nothing Out’ style as a company mandate. Although he was clearly intending to be helpful, his solution was a one-size-fits-all – that really just fit him. He insisted that everyone have a clear desk by the end of the day. He believed that by doing so, this would eliminate visible mess, enhance sales, and increase the sales teams’ productivity because it would save time each morning, allowing them to get right to work. Unfortunately, his ‘Nothing Out’ solution did not take into account the needs of his ‘Everything Out’ employees. They, in turn, panicked when they had to stash everything away at night. Not only did it add stress, but these employees actually LOST time each morning by having to reset, look for items and re-establish their own workable systems.
If ‘Nothing Outs’ had to abide by a company mandate of ‘Everything Out’, it would diminish their productivity and would experience the same loss-of-control issues if the situation was reversed
Minimalists vs. Savers
Minimalists like to feel streamlined while Savers like to, you guessed it, save. Those with a dominant Minimalist style preference love the challenge of purging because they don’t have as much sentiment invested in their belongings as Savers do. One of the key behaviors that differentiates a Saver from a Minimalist is found in how one assigns value to belongings, and this determines whether a person keeps or is willing to let go of items.
In another case study, a Saver client, Doreen, was cleaning out a file cabinet when she came to the rear of the bottom drawer. She suddenly sat back and got quiet. Doreen then explained that those folders were related to a business that she had wanted to start a number of years ago and never followed through on. It was clear that these papers represented of a road not taken — one strewn with regrets and guilt. She needed to process those feelings before making decisions about those files.
Straighteners vs. No Rules
Straighteners and No Rules style preferences are very opposite. Appearance is often more important to Straighteners than function, which can be aggravating (and often even invisible) to No Rules personalities who can seem oblivious to how things look.
In this case study, a mother, Mandy, and her 14 year old son, Zak, constantly argued about the way their house was managed. Mandy was a Straightener and needed things to look orderly and Zak…, well he was No Rules all the way (and a teenager after all). A great compromise in this situation needed to take place. It’s important for individuals to believe that they have some control over their personal/private space. In this case Zak’s bedroom was his personal space. A compromise was reached and Zak agreed to clean his room once a week but kept his door closed so that he could express his style preference the rest of the week. They also agreed to keep the rest of house maintained at a certain level of cleanliness and order so that Mandy could feel confident comfortable, in control, and have peace of mind.
To find out your style preferences, go to: https://iw119.isrefer.com/go/tssi/OrganizedHabits/
evaluates your time style preferences and how you manage priorities, attend to details, and take action. By learning your dominant and strong style preferences, you can learn to make the most of your time and choose to take actions that increase natural flow in your life which in turn will help you successfully manage yourself, and your decisions about time. I invite you to take the TSSI and let’s talk about your next action steps, based on your unique results!
Share What Works For You In The Comments!
- What about these style preferences resonates for you?
- Do you have any examples, tricks or techniques to share of your own?
Organization requires habits. You can organize things any time but to KEEP it organized, what is really needed is organized habits. I am one who always says to take baby steps and the same is true of habits. To begin to change your habits and become more organized, check out this video to learn the first habit.
So what do you think? Are you rolling your eyes? Well, this is the first small step – start doing this and stay tuned. More organized habits will be revealed via video this year! Leave me a comment below and let me know if you have in fact already mastered this habit.
Do you often think to yourself, “How much easier would my life be if I could just focus and get organized?”
Your life would be easier… A lot easier! This question can be the start of you doing something to improve your life.
Becoming more focused and organized will give you:
- greater clarity
- help you see how to achieve your life’s goals
- more time
- less stress
- more money
- and better lifelong habits