When you finally get that pile of mail off your kitchen counter and you think you’ve got your household paperwork under control, another batch of mail arrives! And with the holidays approaching, beware of incoming catalogues clogging your mailbox soon. Without an efficient organizing system to handle the constant stream of incoming paper, you’ll find yourself simply buried in clutter and frustration!

Here are a few tips to help you deal with the daily task of organizing the mail!

Establish one central mail station in your home, even if it’s nothing more than two baskets and a recycling bin. One basket to stash the newspaper and magazines, the other for bills and other important mail, and the bin to discard the junk mail.

Try using upright magazine storage holders, each labeled with the names of family members, for quickly sorting mail for everyone in your home.

Have a magazine rack ready to take incoming magazines and make sure you weed out all your old magazines every month. If there are articles you still want to read, tear them out, place them into a “to read” file and toss the magazine.

Don’t even open obvious junk mail. Get in the habit of sorting the mail everyday directly over the recycling bin. And, don’t forget to dump out all the junk mail inserts inside the bills.

Set up a kitchen countertop tickler file system: an upright vertical file that contains about eight-10 hanging files to help quickly sort incoming papers, such as invitations, coupons, registration notices, etc.

If you need to file something in your permanent files but don’t have the time each day, set up a to file folder within your tickler system, but break the habit of starting a ‘just for now’ pile of papers on your kitchen counter.

If you absolutely don’t have the time, on occasion, to deal with the mail on a particular day - at least drop the mail in a designated vertical bin or even a large shallow decorative fruit bowl on a table, so that it’s visible as a reminder to sort and file, and not simply thrown on the counter. Paperwork dropped on any horizontal surface simply invites more paperwork to join in - quickly developing the infamous piles!

If you still prefer paying your bills via the mail, set up a bill-paying center in your home, preferably in your home office or on a family room desk nook. Keep a checkbook, postage stamps, envelopes and return labels all contained here, as well as a bin for incoming bills and paid bills. It might finally be time, if you haven’t yet converted, to set up on-line bill payment accounts, or paying by phone to save money on postage and help the environment by cutting down on paper waste!

Best way to quickly clear a pile of paperwork: turn the entire pile completely upside down. Mail, newspapers, and other assorted paperwork are much easier to cull from the bottom because most of this is probably already outdated! Remember, clutter is nothing more than delayed decisions. When you don’t have time to deal with something you tend to drop it onto a pile to deal with later--but later usually never comes.

Protect yourself from identity theft. Tear off the mailing labels from magazines and drop into recycle bin and shred any documents that contain account numbers, social security numbers or other personal information.

Go on a media diet. Stop magazine subscriptions if you don’t have time to read them. They are available on-line and at your local library.

Visit: www.catalogchoice.org to control unwanted catalogs and to opt out of unsolicited mail in your mailbox. Otherwise, especially starting this time of year, catalogs will soon be clogging your mailbox and tabletops.

Connecticut Media Group