We’re all busy. We come home, grab the mail from the box and drop it on the hall table, the kitchen counter, the coffee table. But what if we handled every piece of mail once by making a decision then and there to sort it. Circulars that are of no interest should be dropped right into the recycling box. Mailers of no consequence but printed with your address should be shredded. Remove your name from any catalogs you no longer wish to receive. File bills in a To Pay folder. Put magazines in the To Read location. Give it a try. Ideally, this process should take 30 seconds a day, says organizer Kim Oser.
• A list of emergency phone numbers and other contact information
• A folder of current bills to pay
• A folder of recently paid bills (if that helps your comfort level, but most bills can be paid online now)
• Receipts for large purchases
• Make one folder for taxes and put everything in there; you’ll have to sort through it anyway.
• Receipts for purchases you might exchange, at least until you’ve decided you’re happy with the item. Once it’s paid for or once it shows up on your credit card statement, shred it.
• A file or binder for warranties or manuals for those big purchases
• All junk mail
• Anything with Social Security numbers or account numbers (Shred immediately or file it if you think you might need it.)
• Utility bills, unless you’re writing off charges for tax purposes (i.e. if you work from home). Otherwise, organizer Bonnie Riley suggests keeping the most recently paid bill until the next one comes in, posting payment, then shredding the previous month.
• The same goes for monthly bank statements and monthly credit card bills. And if it’s within your comfort level to go paperless and view and pay online, that’s helpful for many people. Remember: You can set reminders in your calendars.
• Invitations after you’ve RSVP’d, if you’ve scanned them in or noted the time/date/location in Evernote and added to your calendar