Glossy magazines, plump envelopes, free newspapers, and bright circulars daily provide a visual cacophony of elements for anyone with a mailbox.

And as part of my effort to be a “real adult” following college graduation several years ago, I made a point of filing away a good chunk of my mail – especially items from my bank and credit card. I thought I was doing the right thing until years later when it dawned on me that perhaps my files would be thinner – and more helpful – if I didn’t keep every single item that was slipped into the envelope with my monthly bank statement. This may seem obvious to you, but it was quite the epiphany for me (even though I dislike even mild forms of hoarding). When I finally audited my paperwork files, it was amazing how much unnecessary paper quickly became recycling bin fare. And so I pass along to you a few pearls of postal wisdom. Hopefully one or all of them will help you declutter your mailbox.

The recycling bin is your friend. Always.

I’m a huge fan of Mother Earth and I make a point of recycling on her behalf whenever possible. Regular mail delivery gives each of us a wonderful opportunity to expand our commitment to reusing, reducing, and recycling.

Every night I sift through our mail and recycle as much of it as possible. This takes roughly 30 seconds and saves us from more clutter than I’d care to imagine. Any irrelevant circulars immediately line our trusty recycling bin, followed by unsolicited magazines and unnecessary advertisements and coupons. Of course, anything that can be used as scratch paper gets placed on a shelf in the home office.

Your filing system is also your friend.

After recycling all unnecessary mail items, resist the urge to leave your mail on the counter while you prepare dinner tonight. Instead, congratulate yourself as you place today’s mail items in their respective hanging files. This will take roughly 60 seconds and it will make a world of difference in keeping your house tidy. When you receive your favorite periodical or weekly news magazine, deliver it to its appointed place in your home. Pronto. No need to start another pile. Over time, the hubster and I have discovered that mail delivery can account for six new piles a week if we’re not careful. And we’ve learned that it’s best to disseminate the materials before they remain on the counter for the next week. Or three.

Tip: Recycle the original envelopes in which your bank and credit card statements and other mail pieces are enclosed. Then file the unfolded contents of each envelope in the appropriate files and you’ll eliminate file cabinet clutter before it even begins.

Did you know you can opt-out?

There are a host of websites that provide information about opting out of unsolicited mailbox items. You may want to hop online and search for ideas on how to effectively reclaim some of your mailbox space. Three sites in particular that you may wish to peruse:

Oh, yeah. Read your mail.

Actually reading the mail is something that doesn’t always happen when life gets busy. But each week, make it a priority to sit down and read your mail. This will help ensure that you don’t miss paying a bill, that you show up at cousin Suzy’s graduation at the correct time, and that you keep abreast of changes to your credit card agreements. It may be easy to gloss over these items when you’re simultaneously making dinner, paying bills, and checking your e-mail, but it’s well worth revisiting the mail items that you specifically did not recycle when you arrived home tonight.

Happy decluttering!

Tagged with →