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Dealing efficiently with junk mail and other paperwork around the house

Updated on January 4, 2009

Here are some effective tips for dealing with junk mail and paperwork around the house.

  • Designate one place for all of your mail. This will not only prevent you from losing important bills and letters, it will reduce clutter throughout the house and also make it obvious when you should really take care of it.
  • Sort your mail when you bring it in. Keep letters and bills separate from junk mail you're not interested in. This way there won't be a huge pile building up for you to go through later, and it won't be as daunting a task. You will be less reluctant to get to it if it's a smaller job.
  • Consider recycling your junk mail for its bulk paper value. You can turn a negative into a positive. Keep a paper shopping bag in the kitchen and toss your junk mail into it when you bring in your mail. When it gets full, carry it to the garage (if you have one) and then add a new bag. Eventually, you'll make one trip for it all to the recyclery, and the money will be a nice bonus - particularly if you're already recycling bottles and cans.
  • You can also reduce junk mail by waiting until one of them sends you an offer with a prepaid envelope to reply to them with, stuffing it overfull with your some of your other junk mail, and sending it off to them. They will of course pay the postage for all this, but it's nice to know that you're returning the favor by showing them exciting offers - much like their own - that they might be interested in. Not only is it poetic justice, it will make them reconsider sending out so much junk mail.
  • When someone asks you to supply your address, online and on forms, consider that it may result in more junk mail. Think twice about to whom you give out your address, and who else might see it.
  • Reduce your non-junk mail - and make your life much easier - by checking with your bank and with the services you pay for for Auto Bill Pay. Many banks and co-ops now offer this service, and instead of having to pay the bills they can be automatically paid from your bank account by your bank's computers. Your bank account will keep a record of the bill, so you can always dispute a charge later if necessary.
  • Learn better alternatives to jotting stuff down on paper. Notes, reminders, phone numbers, and web addresses can always be jotted down into text files instead. Create a folder on your computer for your notes, and save your new text files there. It will reduce clutter, it will centralize all of your notes and contact information, and it has the added benefit of being computer-searchable... so you'll always be able to find your newest friend's phone number, for example.
  • Once you've established this system, go through your living space and get rid of all the clutter in one clean sweep. It will be a fresh start, and you'll enjoy living in your space so much more. From that point on, maintain the system so the clutter doesn't start to build up again. Announce your intentions to others you live with, and fill them in on your new system. Call for their participation in the process, and gently remind them when they're ignoring it. Sometimes new habits take time to learn, and patience with those you live with is only fair. But definately remind them about it kindly, when necessary.


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