Thursday, September 27, 2012
9-27-2012 Mail and Paper
“energy and persistence conquers all things” --Benjamin Franklin
Paper as most would attest, seems like an itty bitty item, but it is not. It has a way of sneaking up on you, of turning into immense piles of unsifted terrain, mountainous and rugged, only for the sure-footed.
Let's start with mail. First of all, if you have not done this already, scoot over to these websites and opt out of credit card offers and solicitations:
DMAchoice (Direct Marketing Association)
Ok now contact any catalogs you are getting and get them to stop sending junk to you as well. Change any bills you can to online only/email secure link while you are at it. Once you have done all this, consider where your recycling bin is in your house. Is it near the door? Easy to access? Make sure that it is. When you enter your front door put down whatever you are carrying, other than the mail, and immediately sort through your mail. Discard carefully any junk mail (be sure to tear up an offers with identifying information). Discard any extra envelopes you don't need or repetitive inserts from mail you need to keep. Only the bare essentials of the mail should make it past this point. And then for the mail survivors, make sure they are dealt with swiftly. Do not let your partner ignore the mail. It must be their first priority as well. If it is something to be filed after it is dealt with, immediately move it to the filing bin or file it directly at that point. There should NEVER EVER be a pile of mail that has been unsorted brought to and left on any surface of the house. Please don't make me say it again. It makes me sad when I go into someone's house and I see piles of mail on the table, on the floor, on the kitchen counter. Certainly it is worthy of some work to rid yourself of this burden. Certainly it is worthy of a small unintrusive system to keep it from happening again. Your happiness is surely worth taking the time to deal with this.
If you are a coupon clipper, organize those coupons in one place and keep your file up to date. Immediately discard any outdated coupons or circulars. Keep it to one corner please, and make it work. If you find you are not actively clipping, don't keep the paper garbage there as a guilty reminder.
Are you sentimental? Do you keep every card, everything your child brings home from school? It is impossible to appreciate cards and children's art work if it is crammed tightly into overstuffed boxes. It is time to sort through. Keep what moves you, what represents a person, what brings back a flood of memories. Recycle all the other cards. Quantity / possessions is not a life. It is your memories. And you cannot enjoy those memories stuffed in boxes. Whittle it down until you can put it into a scrap album,or several if you care to. If you cannot do that, you probably have too too much. Reclaim your space from long abandoned boxes. There's no use keeping a bunch of paper you will never look at again. Letters are different. Think carefully of letters, and perhaps choose what you might like to have down the road. This is after all, for your benefit.
Now for your other project. Many of you have a file drawer. Oh yes, the dreaded file drawer. Well before we get to that, do you have a pile of papers that are either not filed or not sorted? Please sit down, take an hour, a day, maybe two, even a week, watch your favorite tv shows etc, and split your pile into 3 categories. 1) Recycle 2) Shred (identifying info) 3)keep & file Remember to remove the staples from anything you are planning to shred or recycle. Make new file folders if necessary.
We'll look at your file drawer another day. You have enough to keep you busy for awhile. Deal with the paper. You will feel so much better once you have. You know, many of you will consider this process quite laborious, but if you can turn it around, and think of it as much easier than regular cleaning. Regular cleaning requires scrubbing, water, dusting, moving things etc. Paper is actually quite easy. It requires a fun movie on the tele, 3-4 bins in front of you for sorting, a staple remover, and results in much satisfaction in not only reclaimed space, but in knowing for sure where to find your important papers. If you are using a surface of your house that is definitively meant for something else, but cannot be used for that something else because of mail squatting, you must take the time to do this step, and then put in place the stop-gaps so that the pile up does not happen again in the future. Please, do this for yourself. You deserve it.
I recommend finding this book at your local library: Shed your Stuff, Change your Life The author's style is very approachable, and helps one to gently develop some insight into the clutter.