How Mail is Like Groceries

When I ask people what it is about incoming mail that sends them over the edge, I hear variations of the following: “As much as I go through it every few months, it builds up again… Every piece is a decision: one stack could be 100 decisions and it looks like you did nothing… I need a system so I don’t accidentally toss something I need some day.”

If you have a problem with the incoming mail, here’s an idea: treat your mail like you treat your groceries.

We would never…
…bring the groceries in and leave them in the sacks on the counter. Half of it would spoil.

…we open the mail to see what has urgency or a deadline.

We would never…
…leave items in the grocery sack then stuff the whole sack into the refrigerator.

…we would take the mail out of the envelope and trash the envelope.

We would never…
…empty the sacks and leave groceries scattered along the counter. We would run out of work space and live with chaos.

…we would not toss the mail on a pile on the counter. We would forget what’s in the pile and live with chaos.

What we do with groceries is…
…empty the grocery sacks and put away the groceries. We load the refrigerator, fill the cabinets, carry the bulk items to our rack in the basement, stack the 24-pack of drinks in the garage, carry the cleaning supplies to their respective homes—laundry, bathroom, below the kitchen sink. Bags are then returned to the trunk of our car. Done.

What we do with mail is…
…open the envelopes, sort the mail by categories, and carry piles to their rightful homes. Bills are carried to the office area. Amounts are recorded in the checkbook. Invitations are entered on the schedule. Catalogs and magazines are recycled or carried to the basket by the TV where we’ll thumb through them while watching reruns of “Friends.” The pile of recycling is carried to the bin. The unrecyclable bits are dropped into the trash. Done.

Just as knowing where each grocery item goes, knowing where our incoming papers need to go—and we take it there, eliminates paper chaos. This is the essence of organization: a place for everything, and everything in its place.

As an interesting side-note, you handle your groceries approximately 11 times. You place it in the shopping cart. You place it on the check-out’s conveyer. You may or may not bag it yourself. You place sacks in the car. You carry sacks from the car and set them on the kitchen counter. You empty the sacks and set groceries onto the counter. You put everything away: cabinets, fruit bowl, vegetable basket, containers, refrigerator, garage refrigerator, basement storage rack, below the bathroom sink. You’ll pick it up a final two times, first to retrieve the item for cooking, then to use the item and toss whatever part is trash. The trash is finally carried to the curb.

Insane, isn’t it? We handle our incoming paper and mail far fewer times, yet “paper” is a major stressor for many. The goal is to have zero homeless mail items.

If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of paper in your home, I offer what I call “The Paper Reboot” where we simplify decision-making, eliminate false myths, and create an easy-to-maintain system. The result is freedom from what will soon be a non-issue.

Don’t live another day buried in paper chaos. Call today and let’s get started!

You might also like: The Paper Organization Struggle is Real

Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Gentry Black, Home Staging by Cynthia, LLC in Kansas City.
All rights reserved. No portion may be shared, reused or republished in any format without express written consent of the author.

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