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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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    • profile image

      Dave 6 years ago

      Seriously, some good articles here. Thanks

    • profile image

      lee 9 years ago

      Thank you so much for the effort in this article. i am almost gone, under the weight of so many things. Your comments mean so much to me. Simple and fun and full of good ideas. I have spent the last few hours timer in hand starting to dig out of terror of the space and the soul. Please write more. i am so fortunate to have found these loving and sincere suggestions. thankyou

    • Satori profile image

      Satori 9 years ago from California

      And you'll feel so much better about your life for doing it. Thanks for reading. =)

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 9 years ago from Connecticut

      Great advice! Someday I'll get it all under control :)

    • Satori profile image

      Satori 9 years ago from California

      A few years ago, my bedroom floor was literally filled, wall-to-wall-to-wall-to-wall, with stuff I was going to get to "some day". Pretty rocks I wanted to paint or polish. Stuff I'd gotten from thrift stores that would look terrific if I gave it a little alteration. Paperwork for ideas I was surely going to finish working on someday. Stuff like that. It got so bad that I had to do a li'l hopscotch routine to get from my lightswitch to my bed at night. I couldn't really live in my space, because I'd given it away to a bunch of stuff I wasn't really interested in. Every time I'd be in my room I couldn't think, because seeing all the stuff reminded me of thoughts like, "Oh - yeah, that's - that - rock - that - I - found - two - months - back - that - I - still - need - to - find - a - tumbler - for - maybe - I - can - get - the - plans - online - sometime". Everything I saw in my room had some kind of long story and plan that ultimately reminded me of stuff I wasn't doing, and it got to be so distracting that I couldn't even think.

      So one day I decided to go through it all and decide which stuff I was actually going to do something with, keep what really mattered to me, and throw the rest out. I must have kept like 10% of it. My room looked great, and it belonged to me again instead of clutter. I was so excited by that. I was like, "This works! This is so much better! This is what I should be doing with my whole LIFE!"

      So I did. I sat down and went through what mattered to me in life, and decided to pretty much do only that. After a lot of thought, I realized that what really mattered to me wasn't any specific thing in particular, but whether the basic motivation behind it was good or bad. A lot of things society says are bad and wrong are actually pretty healthy and good. And the reverse is also true, too. So what really mattered to me was intention. I re-evaluated my life based on Intent over Content, and I became a LOT more satisfied with my choices in life. To remind myself of this throughout the rest of my life, I went through my closet and hucked out anything with color on it: I only wear black, white, grey, or some combination of them (like patterns) now. It reminds me of the concept, it's become a personal hallmark among those who know me (and an opportunity to share the idea with them), and it turns whatever I wear, even dapper, clubby-type clothes, towards a spiritual purpose, giving the same importance that the robes a holy person wears has. I wouldn't suggest that everyone try to go to that extreme, but it works for me.

    • profile image

      pgrundy 9 years ago

      Good advice--clearing space can have a dramatic effect on a person's life. It's really hard for some people to do though. I don't even open most of my junk mail--it goes right in the trash, but I don't get very much of it.