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Why do we HIDE our mail?

My guest blogger today is Jane Campbell.  Jane is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.  Jane has many callings: writer, professional organizer, a representative for a cabinet organizing product, ShelfGenie and a lifelong student of psychology.  She is guided by the principle that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.  Jane loves all things that  make homes safer, more efficient and more hospitable.  She is going to help us better understand  “Why we HIDE our mail?”  

Direct-Mail1

Are you one of those folks who hide mail in a bag, until the time “when you can get to it?”

Speaking as a professional organizer who has decluttered an 11-room house whose floor was pretty much carpeted with papers, I must warn you that that can be a slippery slope.

The “paperless society” never got here. Paper–much of which still comes to us through snail mail–seems to be a law unto itself. Some Catch-22’s from that law:

1) The more you ignore what comes in the mail, the faster it can come.

For example, if you try to ignore the bills that come to you in the mail, more and more bills will only get sent.

2) The longer you wait to deal with the mail, the more useless some of that paper will become.

For example, if someone mails you a check, and you don’t cash it by the “cash by” date on the check, you may never get your money. Also, if your bank has made an error and you don’t correct it within 60 days, they don’t have to let you correct it.

3) That time “when you can get to it” is either now, or never.

The mail has a lot in common with bananas. Would you put bananas in a bag and let them sit for a month? Not if you value your sense of smell.

I have a client named John. The other day I said this to John: “Old John used to put things in a pile without a specific plan to go back through it, at a specific time. New John has better habits than that.” John agreed.

Some habits I’ve suggested to John:

“Wash and iron” the mail. Open each envelope and throw the envelope in recycling. Straighten out the pages. If there is more than one page, and you can’t put it all in recycling right away, staple all the pages together. E pluribus unum. Move on to the next envelope and repeat this process until all the mail is out of the envelopes and all the envelopes are in recycling. Put the mail into a neat stack.

At this point, you might get interrupted. If you can possibly leave the mail in a neat stack before you attend to the interruption, please do so.

Go through the stack of mail as soon as you can get back to it. One thing may leap out at you as being the most important thing to deal with right now. Deal with that thing. You may feel you can put off dealing with the whole stack right now. Maybe you can. But, 1) try to go through the whole stack before you make this judgment, and 2) come back to the stack as soon as you can, within 24 hours at the most. Keep coming back to the stack, and keep dealing with the most urgent thing. When something has been dealt with, put it somewhere else. File it, if you must. Now you can safely put it in a bag, if you must. Put it in recycling, if you possibly can.

Follow these simple procedures, and you’ll start to feel better about things in bags . .

I hope that you enjoyed and found this information helpful!

A Special Thanks to you, Jane, and we hope that you will come back and visit with us again!

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