Does the idea of getting organized leave you feeling overwhelmed? It’s easy to think of each project as a multi-day affair – and really, who has that kind of time? Each day you don’t address the issue, the area continues to collect more and more clutter, and the project feels even more insurmountable in your mind. Here’s a secret – you don’t need days or even hours to take control! Here are 7 things you can do RIGHT NOW to get organized, enjoy peace-of-mind and prevent clutter from piling up in the future.
Mail piling up? Here’s some ideas to turn that mountain into a molehill:
Never set junk-mail down on a surface. Even better – don’t let it into the house. I live in an apartment building, so when I get the mail each day, I flip through it quickly and trash the solicitations, menus and coupon-packs right there in the mailroom. If you don’t have a trash can in your mailroom, ask the super to put one there! If you don’t have a mailroom (i.e. – you have a house with a mailbox), place a small bin next to the area where you usually set down the mail – instead of setting down the junk, throw it out immediately!
Take action sooner than later. Some mail requires your attention – a payment or an RSVP. Try to do these things right away – call the hostess or set-up the bill pay, then put away the piece of mail (maybe the invite info goes into your calendar, the physical invitation goes on your bulletin board, the paid bill get filed). This way, you won’t miss a due date because you forgot about that envelope at the bottom of the pile.
Enough with the catalogs! If you’ve ever ordered anything from anywhere, chances are you are still getting the catalog. And, chances are, it’s adding to your Mountain o’ Mail. You can stop unwanted catalogs from appearing in your mailbox using a service like Catalog Choice. Just log on, tell them your preferences, and let them do the work. 12 weeks later, much less mail to contend with.
Prioritize your magazine subscriptions. Sure, there are certain magazines that you read immediately. But then there are the others, that wait in a pile, taunting you — and the pile grows, and you wonder, “when on earth will I get to read these?” Take a look at the titles in that pile — it might be time to unsubscribe.
Now go – tame that mountain!
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I have strict rules when it comes to greeting cards. (Ok, if you follow this blog long enough, you’ll find that I’ve got strict rules when it comes to just about everything…) But right now we’re on cards. Cards are a big deal in my family — growing up, each family member would have a small mountain of envelopes to open on the morning of their birthday, Valentine’s Day or just a random Tuesday. And these weren’t just any cards – they were the perfect cards. Cards that someone spent at least an hour picking out at Hallmark. Maybe it had a relevant picture — maybe the sentiment was ‘just right.’ Whatever the draw, that card was chosen for a reason, and it made you feel special. These days, in the age of email and e-cards, in a time when people type a quick sentence rather than actually dialing a phone, getting one of those unmistakable pastel colored envelopes in your mailbox feels even MORE special. That’s why I make it a point to keep sending them.
But, as I said before, I like to pick the perfect card for the recipient. It just won’t do to have a stack of generic cards on hand! (Not to mention, when you buy these ‘good to have on hand’ cards, you inevitably forget where you put them so you’re forced to go out and buy more. Silly.)
So, how do I organize my card-sending? On the first of every month, I open my calendar and make a list of every person’s birthday, anniversary or holiday coming up that month. I’ll even go ahead and look at the first week of the next month just in case. Then I make one trip to Hallmark for the month, and go to town. When I get home I fill them all out – leaving a post-it note on the outside of the stamped/addressed envelope reminding me to throw it into a mailbox on the right day.
Now that you’ve got a manageable system for card buying and sending, here are some good rules to live by: First, an e-card or Facebook wall posting should not replace a physical paper card for the important people in your life. Second, if mailing your card it, do your best to get it there in time for the celebratory day. Third, if giving your card in person, especially to the people who live in your household, it should be given first thing in the morning — a later-day card screams “i ran to Duane Reade at lunch.” And finally, one card is lovely, but three or four? That’s really special.
Here’s to making the special people in your life feel that way,
Follow me on Twitter for a daily organizing tip! www.twitter.com/chaostheorynyc