Are you battling piles and piles of mail? You can get out from under all that paper by setting up a dedicated mail station. It will be time well spent and give you one specific location for all things mail.
Here are a few basic things you’ll probably need, but feel free to add all the things you like to have on hand when you’re going through mail. If you have everything you need, you’re less likely to get distracted and more likely to completely process your letters.
• Clear surface for processing mail (preferably a desk and not the kitchen counter)
• Basket or bin for incoming mail
• Garbage bin
• Recycling bin
Other things you might need…
• Letter opener
• Return address labels
• Pens and Sharpies
• Desktop Scanner (scan then shred – check with your tax advisor before shredding financial paper)
Read More: Mail Control in 3 Easy Steps
Sometimes we can make organizing more difficult than it needs to be. We search for hours on end for the perfect solution when a very good one is right under our nose. Oftentimes, we already have the things we need to help us clear up our clutter and we just need to get a little creative.
Here’s a good – and simple – example of how you can creatively manage paper clutter…
This very lovely wine rack lives in a home office. The owner of this rack loves a good bottle of wine, but has found a new use for the rack. As a landscape designer, he accumulates a few plans over time, and the ones he’s currently working on are stored in the rack until he’s finished with them.
It works well because he has enough space to keep track of his current plans. Now, if only he found a way to label them…
Btw, this method may work well for rolls of wrapping paper, newsprint, and just about any type of rolled paper…but probably not paper towels.
“Whether you’re an homemaker or a business owner, managing your paper is likely to be your biggest single organizing challenge. The sheer volume of paper that modern life seems to generate makes it difficult for almost everyone.“ [Organizing for the Creative Person · Dorothy Lehmkuhl & Delores Cotter Lamping, C.S.W. · 1993 · Three Rivers Press · Chapter 11 · Page 140]
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Today is the official observance of the 4th of July and many of us in the US have the day off. Usually, we re-post one of our favorite articles on a holiday, but instead we’re sharing a product review. If you’ve used this Smead Stadium File, please leave a comment telling us how you like it.
Who doesn’t have paper clutter? It’s one of the more popular reasons why clients ask for my help. There are many systems that can help control paper, and I was recently asked by the nice folks at Buttoned Up to review* a new one: Stadium File™ by Smead. They also sent Super Tab® folders and Viewables® labels, but I primarily focused on the stadium file. Here’s my report…
- Color. So, who cares about color? What does that have to do with with paper clutter? Well, if you like the look and feel of the product, you’re more likely to use it and also maintain it. It’s Open. It’s not closed (like a file drawer) so it’s great for those of us who are visual learners. You’ll be able to see exactly what’s inside without having to open a lid or drawer. Note: This can be con…if you don’t keep your system neat, you’ll see that, too.
(a) You can use it with file folders or simply put papers in the appropriately labeled spot.
(b) Use it for frequently used documents (i.e., action files)…
(c) or use the entire system for docs related to a project you’re working on.
(d) You can even use it just for bills.
(e) This might be a good option to collect incoming mail instead of having piles on the kitchen counter. Use name labels help you filter mail to appropriate person.
(f) Business owners could use it for client follow up or lead files.
- Pre-printed Labels. This system comes with labels for just about anyone: alpha, months, numbers, and names of popular categories (e.g., banking, receipts, utilities, insurance, credit card, medical, etc.). There are also blank labels so you can create categories specific to your needs. That’s a great opportunity to use your label maker, yes?
- Tiers. It’s tiered (hence the name stadium) so that you can easily see the tabs on file folders…or the stadium tabs which are located on the left, center, and right. This allows you to put labels wherever you prefer.
- Size. The unit is small enough to move easily to any spot that you intend to work. It’s the right size for the top of your desk, too.
- Green. It’s blue but it’s green, too…well, partially. It’s made from 10% recycled materials.
What Would Have Made it Perfect
- Portability. Though it’s small enough to move around your office (or to the kitchen table), when filled to capacity, it may be a bit heavy or cumbersome. I like to visit my other “offices,” a.k.a. Panera & Starbucks, so it would be nice if it had handles to make it more portable. Perhaps handles could be placed on the front and back??
…about the Viewables® labels…
- Why I like them: The biggest plus is that you can see the labels from the top of the file. Being able to view label names immediately helps you find what you’re looking for more quickly. Also, the labels now come in a variety of colors. You can use colors to connect similar categories of files. I used them quite a bit in my previous work life and wish I had color options back then.
- Why I don’t like them: To make the labels, you need to download software AND you need your PC to make them. I think a labeler is much more efficient. I also sometimes found it difficult to keep up with the system…though that could have been because I was a bit of a perfectionist. I had to make sure the labels were on completely straight!
Disclosure: This is sponsored content which means that I was compensated for doing this review. What was my prize? A $20 Target gift card. Not a huge prize but one that can come in handy. =) Remember, OTR authors don’t give positive reviews for anything we do not believe in. Our content was not edited or directed in any way by Smead or Get Buttoned Up.
If you have an important (and/or old) document or letter that you’d like to keep, make a copy of it on high quality paper. Frame and mount the copy, and store the original away from light, in a cool, dry place (i.e., not your basement). If you don’t think it’s worth it to do this, then it’s perhaps not that important to you. Give the document to a friend, family member, or organization who will appreciate it. It will be one less piece of paper for you to worry about and you can quickly cross it off your to do list.
Photo Credit: Google Images
Overloaded with paper clutter? I normally advise anyone struggling with piles of paper clutter to spend some time every day separating/recycling the junk followed by sorting, categorizing, and containerizing documents they must keep. It’s a logical process, though not one that most people enjoy.
Well, if you have a green thumb, there’s a solution you might just love: gardening. Recently, The Huffington Post profiled Garden Girl and her daughter, Garden Kid, about how they successfully combined “newspapers, kitchen scraps, and junk mail” to create nutrient-rich soil (with the help of earthworms) for their house plants. This is perhaps not how we usually think about decluttering or managing paper clutter, but here’s why this may be a good option for you:
1. You can quickly decrease your paper piles
2. You can remove your “shred” pile from your home/office almost immediately
3. You make less trips to the curb for recycling pick ups
4. You declutter in a way you love and are likely to keep up with
5. If you involve your children (or other loved ones), you’ll get help with decluttering and spend time together
Still not sure if this right for you? Need a little inspiration? Check out the video below to hear what Garden Girl and Garden Kid had to say. If you’ve been using your garden to get rid of your paper clutter, tell us about it.
“I’m taking the waste that we make every single day and composting it in my home and not putting out on the curb. I’m utilizing here, right here on my land. I take it, I consume it, and I reuse it. Then we’re gonna consume it again and then we’re gonna reuse it.”
Last week, I told you about this new service (well, it’s new to me), Pixily, that helps you corral your paper and store them digitally. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, so I’m going to give one lucky person a chance try Pixily at not cost. Yep, that means no more piles of paper on the kitchen counter or in your office. Can you picture the calm, order, and serenity you’ll be feeling? Here’s what the winner will get…
»» 3 Months FREE – Value Plus Plan ««
- 2 envelopes per month
- 6,000 pages total online storage
- 50 sheets per envelope
So, if you didn’t read my interview with Pixily CPO, Anand Rajaram, you might not know how this whole thing works. You have a few options. One option is to send your papers to Pixily in a bag or box (they provide these for you) and then they digitize and store them in your web account. Click here to find the other ways you can organize your documents with Pixily. ….and see below for the contest rules. Here’s hoping you win! =)
- Follow @dallisonlee AND @pixily
- Send the following public tweet: “I’m following @dallisonlee & @pixily for a chance to win 3 FREE months of @pixily service to control my paper clutter! Pls RT!” (only 126 characters without the quotes)
- Tweet must be received by 5 pm on Friday, July 24th
- One winner will be chosen randomly and notified via DM on Monday, July 27th…so you must follow @dallisonlee and @pixily to be notified…
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Update as of February 2010 ~ Pixily is now Office Drop.
Do you Pixily? I don’t (at least not yet) but I heard a bit about Pixily at the NAPO conference in Orlando a few months back. I was pretty intriqued yet wasn’t sure what it was all about, and I wondered if I really needed to use yet another application…especially since I’ve started using Evernote. Then I heard that Pixily is friends with Evernote…and it’s more than just an application. Who knew? Obviously I didn’t know much, so I had a little chat with Anand Rajaram, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Pixily. Here’s what he had to say about how his service can help you organize your stuff. What stuff, you ask? Read on…
Who uses Pixily? Who is it for?
Anyone who deals with paper, including individuals and small businesses. Pixily was originally intended to provide a cost effective solution for paper intensive small companies. We didn’t focus on big businesses because they usually have solutions in place, and they invest millions of dollars in those solutions. Pixily can help a 1 person firm or company with up to 20 employees. It’s users are CPA’s, realtors, teachers, lawyers, bookkeepers…and now, school systems. A local public school here in Massachusetts has decided to digitize their documents. They had about 200 boxes of papers dating back to the 60′s. There’s also a school in New Mexico that’s using it for paperwork specific to their special education students.
How long has Pixily been around?
Since August 2007.
How did you come up with the idea to create Pixily?
Prasad, the co-founder and CEO, was in graduate school at the time and had lots of papers useful for the future. Also, the company we worked for back then generated lots of invoices that the bookkeeper kept in the basement of the office. One day, there was an internal audit and we found $100,000 in unpaid invoices. So, you see we faced issues with papers both personally and professionally.
How does it work exactly?
With a monthly plan, we send you a prepaid envelope for you put in the documents you want to digitize/preserve. Alternatively, we can send out prepaid boxes to individuals so that they can send paper to us in bulk. People typically send the documents they want to keep on a specific schedule, about once/month or every other week.
Once we receive the papers, we scan them to the user’s account. We can also send the user a USB flash drive with all their data for an additional cost.
So, what’s the connection between Evernote and Pixily?
Both Evernote and Pixily offer easy ways to capture and access information. Pixily has a web based interface with a visual search that lets you quickly narrow down what you’re looking for. Evernote complements Pixily because it’s compatible with multiple platforms (e.g., iPhone, desktop), and the documents you send to Pixily can be accessed via your Evernote notebook. This means you can use your phone to find a very important document.
That’s a great partnership with Evernote. Any possibility of a partnership with professional organizers?
Absolutely. We currently have an affiliate program for professional organizers. We are considering changes to the program, but meanwhile, we do encourage affiliates to sign up. We will also be doing a webinar specifically for organizers,* and those who attended the NAPO conference in April all got a Pixily envelope mailed to them so they could try out the service.
Do you use Pixily for your own personal stuff?
Yes, I use it for papers I get from trainings and seminars and for the papers my son brings home from school.
Anything else you want us to know about your service?
Well, Pixily is a great way to manage paper. You can capture and access ALL your information. Instead of having paper documents everywhere, you will have digital documents that are searchable. Users also get an e-mail address with their account, so they can e-mail documents as attachments directly to their account. For example, if you had a Pixily account, you could send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. We make it easy for you to access everything you want to keep.
Do you Pixily? Tell us about your experience!
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Recently, a reader of our blog asked when the next shred event would be. I did a bit of research and found that there are several events this month in Maryland and Virginia. So, no more excuses. It’s time to kick your paper clutter to the curb!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
ProShed of Northern Virgina
Time: 9 am – 12 pm (or until the truck fills up)
Where: Keller Williams Realty @ 11700 Plaza America Drive, Reston, VA 20190 (703-679-1700)
Info: No need to take out staples, paper clips, or other small fasteners. Watch your documents be destroyed via closed circuit TV right on the shredding truck. All shredded material will be recycled. Individuals only please. 10 boxes per vehicle maximum.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The Grateful Shred II (All-Shred)
Time: 9 am – 12 pm
Where: Clara Barton Community Center @ 7425 MacArthur Boulevard, Cabin John, MD 20818 (301-229-0010)
Voluntary Suggested Donation: $5 per one cubic foot box of paper, $3 per half box and $2 per quarter box
Info: You do not have to remove staples, paper clips, rubber bands, folders, or binder clips. Hanging folders (even with metal strips) and labels are ok, too.
DO NOT BRING: Newspapers, 3-ring binders, cardboard, heavy plastic, heavy metals, boxes, trash, floppy disks, or CDs.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
PC Recycler Residential Paper Shredding
Time: 10 am – 2 pm
Where: PC Recycler Inc. @ 4005 Westfax Drive, Suite A, Chantilly, VA 20151 (800-731-1909)
Cost: $10 per bankers box (a box 24″x12″)
Info: The paper shredding truck will be on site so you can watch your sensitive materials get destroyed. Representatives will be present to address any questions that you may have about paper shredding. You may also bring your electronics to be recycled. Click here for a list of acceptable electronics and fees.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
NBC 4 Safe and Secure Community Shred (Shred-It)
Time: 8 am – 11 am
Where: Northern Virginia Community College @ 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 2200 3 (703-323-3000)
Info: Bring up to 5 boxes of personal papers
DO NOT BRING: Credit Cards or CDs
Up to five boxes of your personal papers will be shredded for FREE! Keep in mind that you must drive as walk-ins are not allowed. Also, no business or commercial material will be accepted.
Don’t miss this great opportunity to simultaneously reduce clutter, recycle your old papers, and safeguard your identity! See below for details.
September 27, 2008
8 am – 11 am
*Cars must be in line by 11 am
Prince George’s Community College
Parking Lot B
301 Largo Road
Largo, MD 20744
- All types of paper (paper clips & staples are ok) *Personal paper only
- Unwanted and expired credit cards
- Empty binders
- Computer disks*May be shredded offsite
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