It’s Day 9 of #The30HomeRefresh. Today we’re going to get your mail organized. Does your mail have a designated spot in the house? Is it a spot that works or a spot that causes stress? So often, the mail ends up on the kitchen counter – then it’s in the way when you’re trying to use the kitchen, things get spilled on it and every time you see the pile, your anxiety level rises. It’s a conversation we have with most clients when organizing or designing their kitchen or entryway. We can easily eliminate mail clutter by creating an organized mail center in your home and a systematic approach to dealing with the mail.


Image from The Container Store

Step 1: Designate an Area
Whether it's a table in the entryway, a desk in an office or a space in the kitchen, designate an area for organizing mail. Make sure it’s a convenient location, one that you would naturally walk by with the mail when coming into the house. If you designate an office upstairs, chances are the mail won’t actually make it there because it isn’t convenient, you’ll get distracted before you get there.
Horizontal surfaces may be limited, so think vertically – stacking trays or wall-mounted organizers are a great way to quickly sort and store the mail until you can carefully go through it. You could also consider something portable, like file folders or a rolling cart, so that you can move the mail to a different area of the house to pay bills and file things. Think about how your family lives and create a system that will be easy for you to maintain. Every system I set up for clients looks a bit different based on how they live.


Image from The Container Store

Step 2: Stock It With Supplies
Put a recycling bin near the mail area – even just a small bin or basket that can be periodically transferred into your main recycling bin. This way the junk mail and catalogs that you won’t read can immediately be tossed, making the overall pile of mail look a lot less intimidating. It would also be helpful to keep pens, stamps, envelopes and your checkbook at the mail station – making it easy to pay bills without having to hunt around the house for your supplies. Keeping a shredder nearby will also cut down on the clutter, you can shred documents immediately, rather than hanging onto them until you can do a bulk shredding session.


Image from The Container Store

Step 3: Create a Filing System
Label mail sorters, baskets or stacking letter trays with categories, for example: "To Pay" "To Review" "To File" and "Coupons". You may also give everyone in the family their own inbox. If your household gets a lot of magazines and catalogs (catalogs that you will actually look through) add a big basket to collect those for monthly reading. If the basket gets full and you haven’t read them in a month’s time, toss or donate the old issues.


Image from Domestic Imperfection

Step 4: Use Your System
When you bring the mail in, get it sorted right away. All the junk can go right in the recycling bin. Open each envelope and decide which category the mail should go into.
Is it a bill that needs to be paid? Put it in the "To Pay" file and mark the due date on the outside of the envelope. Keep bills in their original envelopes until they are paid to keep loose items together.
Is it a bank statement that you need to reconcile or other documents that you need to take some action on? If you cannot take care of it immediately, it goes in the "To Review" file.
Sometimes you'll receive items in the mail that you will need to hang on to for future reference, like tax statements or receipts. These go in the "To File" category.
Set a specific day and time for yourself, once a week, to go through each category and pay the bills, scan and save or manually file the items in the “To File” bin, and respond to the items in the "To Review" bin. Picking a day and time to review the contents of each file on a weekly basis helps to manage the piles. Put a reminder in your calendar until it becomes a natural habit.​​​​​​​


Image from At The Happy House

What if there was just less mail to go through?

Receiving Less Mail Tip #1: Do you need paper copies of your bills? Can you instead receive electronic copies? Or better yet, set up auto payments for your bills? Make a list of all the bills you pay on a monthly basis and while you’re watching TV tonight, look online to see which ones you can receive electronically and make those switches.

Receiving Less Mail Tip #2: Unsubscribe from all of the catalogs that you never read. Most have fine print with instructions for unsubscribing or you can do it online at Cutting down on the amount of junk mail you receive will cut the amount of time you spend managing your mail. It's also good for the environment.

Receiving Less Mail Tip #3: Opt-out of prescreened credit card and insurance offers. Call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or visit and you can choose not to receive offers for new credit cards and insurance.

Receiving Less Mail Tip #4: Remove your name from mailing lists at A lot of the junk mail we get is from members of the DMA, the largest U.S. data/marketing association. It can take up to 90 days to see results since many mailings are already in print or production. There is a fee of $2 to unsubscribe through DMA Choice but you’re off the lists for 10 years (worth it).

What other areas of your home do you want to declutter and streamline? Let us know in the comments below. 

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