The Art of Love & Money Organize Your Financial Paperwork

Mail/Processing Inbox

The paperwork just will not stop coming!  It’s like the laundry but worse because you can’t throw it in the machine and walk away.

Every day when you get home, there is more paperwork.  Seems like everyday you out there living your life, you are creating more.paper.trails.

So much for a paperless society.

I handle this dilemma by setting out a mail/processing inbox.  The basket sits beside our desk and anything that comes into the house that can not immediately be tossed to recycle goes into that box.  In an ideal world, every Wednesday would be the paper sorting day in which I would open the envelopes, sort into piles to take action, file or toss.  In real life, it may be a few weeks, when the papers are beginning to overflow the basket.  It still works, and it has worked pretty flawlessly for over ten years.

Gather your supplies.  You will need a couple of baskets.  Don’t over do this.  Walk around your house and see if you already have something that can work.  If not, walk around Target with a stack of notebooks and a pile of the Sunday paper an junk mail in your cart.  The inbox should be large enough to hold several full size notebooks and the Discard box should be large enough to hold a few weeks worth of newspaper circulars.

Pick a basket for your inbox.  This basket should be large enough to hold several full size spiral bound notebooks.  I got mine as a stack able rattan set of 3 at Target, it measures 10″x14″x5″. 10″ wide, 14″long, 5″ deep.

Pick a basket for your discarded mail.  I have a small laundry basket near the mail slot on the covered front porch.  Anyone who brings the mail in knows to toss junk before bringing it into the inbox.  We use a small, square  laundry basket.  You can also use your main trash/recycle – so long as you toss it as it comes into the house.

You can read more about this idea from my favorite happy home maker, FLY Lady, (Scroll down to Paperwork/Clean Out Day” or the impeccably organized, Lisa Woodrow’s Organize 365 Sunday Basket.  I first started this years ago from the FLY Lady, but it seems her systems have changed and evolved since that time as well.  She used to do it on Wednesday, and there used to be a whole bit about sorting the paper as it comes in the door – recycle, then into the inbox.  Sort and handle any to do items, and file as needed.

One more step for incoming paperwork next week.  What to do with the to-do items?  I’ll show you how I handle mine, what has been working for me for well over a decade.

ACTIONABLE STEP: Set up a system to toss the junk mail as it comes in and store the papers to be processed.  Pick a day of the week to sort piles for action, file, or toss.