There is an enemy to tidiness. And it lurks in plain sight. It seeks to overwhelm us. It breeds. It takes over. It is... our mail. And we have to turn off the inner Scarlett O'Hara in our heads who wants to ignore the problem until tomorrow... and freakin' deal. with. it. TODAY.
This definitely comes under the category of "not rocket science," but sometimes it just takes someone pointing out a seemingly obvious issue for us to finally take note of it. Your mail, if you do not develop a strategy for dealing with it, will stack here and there and everywhere until you have junk strewn all over your countertops. And nothing looks like chaos -- and therefore causes us stress -- like the visual of piles of paper lying about at every turn.
You can do this. You are stronger than those stacks of mail. You are smarter than those bills that are piling up. You have the ability to overcome the interloper that has invaded your home. Here's how:
1. Designate a place where you deal with the mail. (For me, this is the corner of a kitchen counter because it is the first place I stop when I walk into my home.) This place should, above all else, be located very near to a trash can, preferably within actual arm's reach. This place should also have a letter opener nearby. For some reason, having the ability to slice open a letter quickly and easily will help you to just open the dumb envelope and DEAL. WITH. IT. NOW. I don't know why, but having to tear it apart with my fingers is sometimes just more than I can bear. So I will toss it down and walk away from it.
2. Which leads me to #2. DO. NOT. WALK. AWAY. FROM. IT. That pile from today will have babies and become a bigger pile tomorrow because the mail just keeps. on. coming. Even though we live in an age when nearly everything is electronic. (which I don't actually love, but... I happen to live in the current century so I don't really have much of a choice.) But believe me, if you leave those 3 envelopes there on the counter, you will come back in three days and have a bonafide postal nightmare on your hands. Which leads to the dreaded "I just can't deal with it." And THAT leads to the even more dreaded "Oops, I forgot to pay the electric bill on time because I left it on the counter and it got covered with other mail and then my toddler knocked over the mail stack and lost the bill and now some dude is standing in my driveway talking some crazy nonsense about nonpayment and terminating service." (Been there, done that.)
3. Don't walk away like Scarlett O'Hara, saying that famous line in our heads -- "I'll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day." Instead, face it now. Today. Right this moment. THIS is what you do:
Walk in the door.
Put the mail stack down.
Get the letter opener.
Slice open every, single, solitary envelope.
4. Then this is what happens to all of it:
The junk and the catalogs go immediately into the trash/recycling bin.
The bills: pull out your phone and do bill pay in your banking app. Right now. (Some electronic things good. Because: "Schedule a payment" is a gift from God above to mothers with a thousand things to keep track of. And "due dates" -- when they aren't related to progeny -- are one of those things I do not have enough brainwaves to keep straight.)
Shred immediately the credit card statements or banking statements that you don't need to keep for some reason. (Note: Small children LOVE to shred papers. You just made your 6-year-old's day and earned Mom Brownie Points for being "Fun Mom." And your counter is clean. It could almost not get any better.)
Put the magazines where you actually read magazines.
Don't stop until the entire pile is dealt with.
IF something MUST be saved to handle later -- like perhaps a bill that you need to discuss with a spouse or an inaccurate bill that you need to call about when the company is open for business -- then throw away or shred every piece of that bill that is unnecessary. I'm talking about the extra leaflets they inevitably throw in to sell you something else, the page of checks printed on a page from your bank or credit card company, or the return envelope to send in your payment. You don't need that stuff to show your spouse. DO EVERYTHING ONLINE AND SAVE A STAMP -- which means you can recycle every single envelope that ever enters your home. Save only the important pages, remove them from the envelope, and put them in a place where you can't help but see them and handle them. (If you put them back in the envelope there is a high chance or forgetting what's inside and why it is important.)
If it is something I need to discuss with my husband, I often get a Sharpie, write my question on the actual bill, and put it on Scott's pillow so I don't forget and he can't miss it. If it is an issue that I need to call a company about, I put it inside my planner, on top of my personal desk, or I tape it to a mirror in my bedroom so I can't procrastinate too long with it.
Trust me, People. I get that this is sorta "duh" but mail will take over your life. And wreck your peace and sanity because it's always there in the back of your mind as a lingering "to-do" in a vast sea of "to-do" items. And mail will also messy-up your kitchen counter. Which will further wreck your peace and sanity because visual clutter is from satan himself.