This is such a great question because so many people struggle with this issue.
I’m going to break it down into 10 really simple steps. However, these steps must be accompanied by a few of important foundational understandings first:
- Getting organized is work; staying organized is habit
- Habits (routines) matter a lot in keeping yourself organized
- Go slow now to go fast later. Slow down to build your habit muscle. You can go fast once you’ve firmly adopted the new habit.
Getting organized is work, no question. I said in an earlier email it’s easier to keep up than to catch up. This is true for organization in ways you can’t comprehend yet if you’re haven’t adopted some effective habits and routines yet.
Habits (routines) matter in organization – without effective habits, you have chaos. Taking two minutes now to follow your routines each day means fewer piles, less clutter, and less overwhelm.
Go slow now to go fast later. This is one of my mantras. If you slow down, even for two minutes, you’ll develop a strong habit muscle. With this strong muscle, you’ll make better decisions, have more clarity, and you’ll keep the chaos at bay for the long haul.
Now, about that mail:
- Routine: deal with the mail every single day it comes or at least once a week. It’s best ifvyou choose a regular time to collect it and sort it (morning or afternoon or evening).
- Location: choose a “mail opening location.” Ideally, you want this location to have (1) a trash can; (2) a shredder; and (3) a recycle bin all in the same place.
- Collect: get the mail from your mailbox.
- Sort: Quickly sort the mail and recycle anything you obviously don’t want or need (advertisements, circulars, catalogs, obvious junk mail, etc.).
- Discard: open the rest. Anything else that is “junk mail” can be recycled or shredded. Most paper can recycled, but the odd item here and there will have to just go in the regular trash.
- Gather: all that should be left is a pile of bills to be paid and a pile of things that need additional action (like invitations, forms to complete, offers to accept, etc.)
- Hold: create a “holding place” for bills to be paid. I have small, metal letter holder where I put my bills. Some people use a folder; others a tray. The key is to pick a place, commit to the place, and use it.
- Hold, Part II: create a “holding place” for other items that need attention. I have a folder labeled “Action.” You could label it with your name, with the words “To Be Processed” or something else. Some people use a tray. Again, the key is to pick a place, commit to the place, and use it.
- Schedule: choose and schedule a time block once a week to pay bills and to process your action folder. The calendar will remind you it’s the day/time to pay bills and process your action folder – this keeps you from having to “remember to do it.”
- Action: sit down at your appointed time and pay bills and process your action folder. If something isn’t due until later or if you’re not ready to make a decision on something, it goes back in the folder to be reviewed again next week.
If you follow these 10 simple steps, you will never suffer from piles of mail ever again.
And remember, it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Adopt this one and it might feel like work at first, but after 21 days of practice, you will have formed an awesomely effective and efficient habit.
I dare you to try it!
If you’re still having trouble after trying this, I can help. I’m a whiz at creating custom organizing solutions and guiding my clients as they adopt new, more effective habits (around anything). One little tweak could make the whole 10 steps really work for you.
Make Some Room,
P.S. When you’re ready to do something about your disorganization, procrastination, or overwhelm and you want to be guided by someone you trust, I can help. Let’s schedule a Clarity Session and get you into action.