Kari Bloom, 38, works long hours as a brand manager at a Boston Internet company, and although she’d like to come home to order at the end of the day, she hasn’t been able to tame the piles of paper that clutter most of the surfaces and drawers in her one-bedroom apartment. “The disorganization takes a toll on my personal life,” she says. “I can’t have a friend over for a glass of wine because my apartment is too messy.” Kari has tried a number of systems to control the paper, which includes mail, catalogs, magazines, invitations, and coupons and special offers, but they all broke down after a month or two.
Designate a box, basket, bin, or drawer for incoming mail. If you and your partner like to keep your mail separate, get two boxes. Corral all mail in this one spot until you’re ready to deal with it. Strive to throw out junk mail as soon as it arrives.
Set up a 13-pocket accordion file with tabs for each month and the last for your tax return. As you pay your monthly bills, file them accordingly. Add bank statements and credit card receipts. Drop in your tax returns at the end of the year and store the file.
Set up a tabbed filing system for papers you need to keep long term, such as your car, life, and homeowner’s insurance; medical insurance and claims forms; and warranties and owner’s manuals.
Enter information for events you want to attend into a date book or PDA and throw out the invitation.
Put them in an envelope or pouch and carry them in your handbag.
Contain them in two small bins or baskets next to your couch or bedside. Store them upright, not flat, so you can always see what you have. As new issues come in, throw the old ones out.
A file box with a lid is a space-saving alternative to a filing cabinet for permanent files.
Efficient mail management should take about 30 minutes once a week with these tools: an inbox, an accordion file, and a slim pouch for coupons.