mail center - please help!

numbersjunkieJanuary 30, 2010

I take care of mail for my family, my mom (nursing home), my son (away at college). We own our own home, a vacation/rental home, and a home that my son lives in at college. I also having a consulting business (in addition to my FT job) that I operate out of my house. I'm drowning in mail, which my DH drops on the kitchen table when he comes in. I try to sort it and get rid of the "junk" ASAP, but the rest of it usually ends up on my counter. Every two weeks, we rush around to straighten up for the cleaning service, and I grab all the mail and dump it in my office - wherever I can find space! Fortunately, I pay most of the bills by automatic draft or billpay, but tax time is a nightmare.

We're a planning a kitchen remodel, and DH wants to make sure there is a place for the mail - other than the kitchen table/counter. I have a closet/alcove in my office that I think will make a good mail center (as soon as I clean it out). It is 24" deep and 60" wide, give or take. I'm thinking a built in unit of some type, probably Ikea stuff.

I need help designing the space. I also plan to include a newspaper recycle container in there somewhere. I'm desperate for advice or ideas because I'm drowning!

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Seems to me you need a mail filing box. They sell small plastic ones and make or buy some magazine storage boxes--you'll need 5--one for mom, one for son, one for each business and one for your own personal mail and any junk mail you want to keep for looking at later. Discard immediately junk mail you don't want.

When you bring in the mail immediately sort it and drop it in the appropriate magazine storage box. When you look at it later drop them in the appropriate folder in the file box. Folders can be labelled bills to pay, bills paid ETC. and each business, mom etc. should have their files together.

This way you can deal with one thing at a time and in the long run it will be faster and easier than sorting through the whole thing and figuring out what you have to do. Organization is the key.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 10:50PM
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occasionally we get mail for other people..we keep it on a dresser by the front door for them when they come by..but other than that i take care of ALL my mail the day it comes..i pay bills the same day if there is money for them ..otherwise i paperclip them to my desk calendar with a note to pay them when a check comes..occasionally i'll make the checks out and put them in the envelopes early..but put a post it note on the outside not to mail them until money is avialable for them..and paper clip them together and leave them near the front door for going to the mailbox on that day.

inever save anything that is not going to be useful to me, if something has to be acted on at a future date..i slide that info into the desk calendar between the pages on the month where it is to be acted on and then paper clip it to that month to act on it when the time comes.

i never keep a MAIL area

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 12:26PM
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Numbersjunkie, it sounds as if your life is VERY complicated.
You may want to look at small cubes placed on their sides or shelves that can be labeled. Many stores sell cardboard file boxes and you can have a separate folder for each type of mail that you need to keep (mom, rental, son's place, etc.) Then once every few months go through it and file in a regular file cabinet whatever you need to keep.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 2:20PM
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Every two weeks, we rush around to straighten up for the cleaning service, and I grab all the mail and dump it in my office - wherever I can find space!

Two weeks is a long time for mail to be sitting unopened.

I don't get as much mail as you, but I do get a lot. I simply cannot give it attention every day. But I think once a week is reasonable. So the mail piles up on a desk all week and I go through it every Sunday. I sort of leaf through it a few times during the week, just to see if anything important-looking jumps out at me but otherwise it just sits, junk, bills and all.

On Sunday I grab the whole pile and go through it. The trash/recycle pile is big. I shred some stuff, and the rest is usually bills, magazines and misc (such as insurance notices for example). The bills go next to my computer where I pay them online twice a month. The magazines go to the bottom of my to-be-read pile which usually moves along at a steady pace. The other stuff gets filed or otherwise taken care of however needed.

I've been doing this routine for the past several years and it really works for me. Going through the mail takes about 10-15 minutes. I am sitting on the couch with music playing or TV or whatever.

It might take you longer to do since you have so much more mail than I do, but once I got used to the once a week routine, it made the whole mail chore so much more manageable.

You still need a spot for it to collect up. It should be an out of the way spot but conveniently located reasonbly near the mail box. It doesn't have to be any kind of fancy file, I just use a nice wooden "in box". It doesn't have to be cleared out or moved when the cleaning lady comes because it remains a (somewhat) neat stack all week and gets cleared every Sunday.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 3:03PM
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I did go out this weekend and bought a basket for the counter where I can stash the mail until I have time to "file" it. I also bought a bunch of cardboard magazine files and started to label them with sticky notes, so I can change them if I need to. I'll see how that system works for a while before I decide on anything permanent, but I will need a space for the files where they are easily accessible.

BTW, I do look at the mail every night, and open most of it. But as I said in my first post, almost all the bills are paid by autodraft so fortunately I seldom have to take action to make sure they get paid.

Thanks for your suggestions, and wish me luck!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 5:48PM
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I take care of the tax time nightmare by keeping an easily accessible file envelope just for tax receipts. Any receipt or piece of paper I will need for taxes goes into that envelope during the year. At tax time, I just sort through the tax envelope. You may need more than one if you file your business taxes separately.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 11:57PM
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