You CAN Beat the Odds

mail-manAt the beginning of a new year, statistics say that some 45% of people make new year’s resolutions. The number two most popular resolution is to “get organized” right after “losing weight” which has become the number one resolution. The statistics also say that a mere 8% of Americans will achieve their resolution. I think when it comes to getting organized, we can do better than 8%, don’t you?

Paper and clutter are the two most common challenges to getting organized. Today, let’s just talk about one source of the paper piles – the mail. Six days a week the mail comes whether you want it to or not. Some days you have time to go through it and other days you may not. There may be decisions that need input from someone else, or more information, bills to pay, magazines to read and of course the most plentiful….the junk mail.

First thing to do to get it under control is to designate a home for the mail. Not having a specific place means it may land on the kitchen table, then at dinner it is moved to the island or the counter, or it gets hidden under a homework book. You get the picture, it needs a home. A clear inbox, basket or bin that is not too large but can hold a typical week’s worth of mail (smaller if you don’t want yours to build up that long) makes a good home or rather a temporary holding zone. Of course, if you can throw out the flyers and shred the junk mail before it goes into the inbox, all the better. If not, that’s okay. Just pick a day of the week when you will go through the entire bin.

On “mail day” sort the mail first into bills, decisions/to do, to read, and junk. Shred or recycle the junk. Next pay the bills. If you pay them online, then set a day of the week that you will do that or do it after the rest of the mail is taken care of. It is becoming increasingly time consuming to have to write out an actual check so those things can sometimes slip through the cracks.

Next, move the magazines to a “to read” basket or throw one or two in your car for those times you find yourself waiting. Or put one or two by your favorite chair and read during the commercials.

What’s left is the mail that requires a decision of some sort. The best way to do that is to just go through it and decide on the things you can and then write a “to do” in your planner for the next action step on anything that is left over. Make it a rule to empty the bin each week and of course try to deal with some of it as it comes in so that your “mail day” can become a “mail hour.” Keep at it and you will beat the odds!

This week I’ll be posting more tips on handling paper on the Laine’s Logic Facebook page. “Like” us so you won’t miss them. Thanks for reading!

New Year Organizing Plan: Week 1

Week 1:

Are you ready for lesson one of our organizing plan for 2009? What arrives 6 days a week no matter the weather. Sometimes it is only a small amount and other times it is a pile but each day it continues to grow. If left unattended it can cost you time, money and really add stress to your life. Know what it is?  That’s right it is the mail.

Leaving the mail in the mailbox until you have time to deal with it is NOT an option. Rule #1: You must deal with it EVERY day.  Now that doesn’t mean that you have to handle each bill or invitation on the day it arrives, but it does mean that you have to separate the bills and invitations from the junk mail each day. So by following the next five steps you will be able to separate the important from the unimportant quickly and easily.

Step 1: Toss/shred/recycle anything that you know you do not need.

Step 2: Separate reading materials (including catalogs you want to browse)

Step 3: Separate bills and keep them together in one folder (To Pay)

Step 4: File anything you really need to keep (automobile title, insurance policies, etc.) or put into a TO FILE folder.

Step 5: Put what’s left into an ACTION folder.


There are several storage ideas you can use to house your mail. Vertical hanging pockets, desktop files or literature sorters work to separate and contain the mail until you can deal with it.



The second part is to now deal with the important stuff.                                

Rule #2: Deal with the ACTION items and BILLS weekly. Set aside 20 -30 minutes a week to handle the action items you have set aside and to pay the bills that have come in. I suggest weekly payment of the bills unless you already have a plan that insures all bills are paid on time. This is the time to make that call, reply to that invitation, or send that email, whatever it takes to handle all the items in the ACTION folder. Be sure to mark all important dates on your calendar. Clear out this folder each week and you will never again forget to RSVP, pay a late charge on a bill or have to apologize to your child because you lost their permission slip to the museum.

Here is your assignment: Decide how you want to contain your mail and set it up. Whether you use labeled hanging folders in a desktop file or pockets hung on the wall, or a literature sorter, find something that will work for you. Sort the mail each day as it comes in. Pick one day that you will deal with the ACTION items.

Let me know how you do.


For those readers in the Norwell, Massachusetts area or areas south of Boston you can learn how to Tackle and Tame Your Mountain of Paper by attending our free workshop.


Tackle and Tame Your Mountain of Paper

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Norwell Middle School Community Room

328 Main Street

Norwell, MA 02061

Call or email to register

(781) 659-0513

The Magic of Containers

Do you have mail and papers spread out all over your counters or in separate piles throughout your home or office? With the holidays fast approaching, here is a quick tip to save you time and make your home look “organized.” Ready?

Get a decorative container or basket large enough to hold all those papers and put them in it. There doesn’t that look better? By “containerizing” you are transforming several piles into one and:

·         you’ll know where to look when you need something (saving you time searching each pile)

·         your home or office space will look neater (reducing your stress)

·         you are able to quickly move the container to clear the counter (saving you energy and time)

·         others in the family know where to look (reducing the blame game and your stress level)

In general, containing papers holds them in place until you can deal with them. It takes less than five minutes and can make a big difference in how neat and organized your home looks. One warning though, do NOT put bills in this container! Bills should have a separate home and should never land in a pile (unless you like paying late fees).

Want to learn how to deal with this container of papers? Next “Tackle and Tame Your Mountain of Paper”  workshop is being held January 14, 2009 at the Norwell Middle School Community Room in Norwell, MA. It’s full of helpful tips and it’s FREE (but you must register to attend by sending your name and email or phone number to

As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.