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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Paper comes at us from all directions, doesn’t it? I know I’ve had my share of piles over the years. Okay, to be honest I still have piles. One to file, and one to go through (crazy mail carrier! Keeps bringing me more paper.) Here are some strategies to help keep that tiger under control. Get it? Paper tiger? I crack me up. Okay, okay. Sorry.

In an ideal world, you only touch a piece of paper once. It comes in, you look at it, and it is dealt with immediately. Well. I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in an ideal world. Between the “helpers” and the distractions, paper here gets handled far more often than once. Even so, I’ve been able to cut down on the giant piles and even eliminate most of them. Here’s what I’ve done with the mail that attacks daily so far:

jumbled pile of papersSeparate out the reading material. All the magazines and catalogs that come in are taken out of that pile and moved to my bathroom office. I do my best to read through things as quickly as possible whenever I’m in the, ahem, area. Some magazines are kept long-term. Those go into the upper part of my bathroom cabinet when read and moved to more permanent storage as needed. The rest is tossed or recycled.

Shred unwanted credit card/loan offers. Anything with an ID number or offer is put in the shredder. The rest of the paper is discarded.

Cull the junk mail. Remaining items that are not personal or bills is quickly glanced at and discarded.

Actually file things in the file cabinet. No, I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence. I tend to put things in a ‘to be filed’ pile for some reason. Which is silly. If I’d just pull open the drawer and slide the paper into the correct folder, the job would be done.

stack of messy papers

Pay the bills. Or, put them in a special folder or central location so you won’t lose them.

Answer personal correspondence. One of my biggest failings: answering cards and letters, remembering to RSVP or not for events, and correspondence in general. It’s too easy to set those items in a pile and then forget them forever. Instead, respond to the invitation immediately. If it’s a no, then call or write with your regrets and discard the paper. If it’s a yes, you can attach the invite to your calendar or write the event down and discard the invitation.

Okay, that about does it for dealing with the mail. Next I’ll give you some strategies for cutting down the amount that gets sent to you in the first place.

Earnest Parenting: tips for getting life under control through organization

Photo 1 courtesy of Daquella Manera via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

Photo 2 courtesy of Ryan Coleman via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.