How to Tame Your Junk Mail

Rolanda L., Professional Organizer outlines a simplified system for decluttering and eliminating junk mail.

Despite the tremendous technological advances mankind has achieved, most of us still have a steady stream of “junk mail” that enters our home. Junk mail is one of the most common obstacles that separates households from becoming organized. Some people allow their mail to accumulate on a desk or table that is typically located near the front door, where the mail makes its entrance. Others simply stash unwanted mail into a large bin or trash bag with the intent to sort and declutter by eventually shredding the excess paper.

The following suggestions will help you avoid the massive pileup that often results after weeks, months, and after especially years of an unaddressed influx of mail.

1. Go Paperless – Unless you require paper copies of bills and statements, paperless is the way to go. Virtually all financial institutions and utility providers offer–and even prefer–e-statements, which can be accessed online or received through email, depending on the issuer.

2. Create a System – Most homes need a system by which mail can be quickly and easily divided AS SOON AS IT ENTERS THE HOUSEHOLD. I recommend using a hanging mail sorter like the one below. One tray should be labeled “IMMEDIATE” for mail that requires immediate attention. The second tray should be labeled “NON-URGENT” for mail that requires action within the next several weeks or months (i.e. renewing a magazine subscription). I also highly recommend placing a basket or small bin labeled “RECYCLING” directly under the mail sorter.  This is where junk mail should go as soon as it enters the home.

Hanging mail sorter example (Amazon affiliate link):

3. Schedule time for upkeep – You will need to schedule time to address your junk mail organizational system. Otherwise it will overflow. I recommend setting aside an hour weekly to (1) address any lingering urgent mail, (2) move non-urgent items that are approaching their deadline to the urgent box, and (3) empty the recycling bin (and prepare it for curbside pickup if offered in your community). The weekly hour of mail decluttering can be scheduled concurrently with another activity, for example, if you are a person who enjoys watching television or listening to podcasts. It may also be easier to tackle a task like mail intake as an end-of-day cleanup activity before going to bed. Although I am recommending an hour, most households that address their mail weekly will likely need far less time to complete this task.

4. Deal with currently overflowing junk mail bags and bins – Many of us already have a stash of junk mail we “intended to go through and shred.” Over time, looking at that pile can become overwhelming. While the best approach is to simply go through and shred all the unwanted mail at once, many people may feel they simply do not have the energy. If this is the case, I would advise dividing the backlogged mail and setting goals (i.e. sorting and shredding 1/4 of the pile Monday, another 1/4 Friday, and so on until it’s gone). The important elements in this less intensive, “incremental” approach to decluttering mail are 1) setting clear goals and a realistic, but productive timeline and 2) being diligent in execution. If you set a productive timeline and stick to it, your pile of junk mail will be gone in seemingly no time, and your only related weekly task will be basic upkeep of your new system.

The key to both overcoming and avoiding junk mail clutter is to work at it strategically and consistently over time.

 

How to Use Vacuum Storage Bags (Yes, they really work!)

After having seen my own mother use vacuum storage bags for years, I decided to introduce them to a couple of my clients. These clients immediately loved being able to compress a pile of clothes into a manageable, plastic-sealed slab, which could then be tucked away until needed at a later date.

Important note: I have ONLY introduced the use of vacuum bags to clients who did not have a preexisting tendency to collect items they no longer need. Translation: if hoarding is an issue for you, DO NOT use these!

Instructions: Vacuum sealing is much easier with two people working together to complete the process.

STEP 1: Fold clothes or linens into a neat pile. Choose a vacuum bag of the appropriate size, and fill it with folded items. Seal the “zip-lock” top completely. IMPORTANT: Run your finger across the top closure to ensure the top is completely sealed.

STEP 2: Open the circular panel in the center of the bag, and place the vacuum over it. If working with a partner, one of you should operate the vacuum while the other holds the vacuum nozzle.

STEP 3: The person who is operating the vacuum should turn it on and begin pressing down on the bag while the other party continues to hold the nozzle securely, making sure to COMPLETELY COVERING THE CIRCULAR OPENING in the center of the bag. If the opening is completely sealed, the contents of the bag will begin to condense.

STEP 4: Once the stack of clothing or linens has condensed until it has become a “solid” block, one person must turn the vacuum off while the other quickly removes the hose and closes the circular opening tightly. If the bag remains stiff and solid, the process was successful!

****If you completed all steps carefully and air seeps into the bag, FIRST, check the tightness of the vacuum seal in the middle of the bag. Then repeat the vacuuming process as much as needed to restore stiffness. If air continues to seep in, NEXT examine all four corners of the bag to determine if there are any rips or tears. If you determine a tear in the bag, simply use a new bag. In some cases, tears can possibly be repaired with clear plastic packing tape.

Looking to buy vacuum storage bags? Check out the link below!

[Affiliate Link]

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Tools to Help You Organize Your Small Kitchen

Many New Yorkers know all too well what it’s like to be short on kitchen space. These kitchen products will those who struggle with having a small kitchen make the most of every inch.

These spice gripper strips can be mounted onto a wall or cabinet door for visibility and easy access. [Amazon affiliate link]

This holder for pans and cutting boards fits over a cabinet door.

Over the sink dish drying mat – simply roll it up and store it when your dishes are dry!

[affiliate link]

Broom and mop holders work well in homes that are low on closet and pantry space.

 

The Definitive Guide to Purchasing Moving Supplies

It finally occurred to me to put this post together as a one-stop guide for readers who are seeking guidance on ordering moving supplies.  If you like any of the items you see, simply click on the photo, and you will be transported directly to the product page on Amazon.com, where you can purchase it.

[Disclaimer: the following links are affiliate links; therefore, I will receive a commission from Amazon for all purchases that are made after clicking the following links to their site.]

Moving Boxes

Combo Value Pack – I would recommend this pack for a small office move or perhaps for an individual who is moving out of a shared room and has a small amount of clothing and relatively few books and other household items. The pack includes:

-2 Small Moving Boxes with dimension of 16in x 10in x 10in, ideal for CDs, book, albums, dishes, and glass items,

-6 Medium Moving Boxes at 18 x 14 x 12 for toys, kitchen appliances, or shoes, and

-2 Large Moving Boxes at Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 16 for bedding, cushions, and clothing

Value Pack with 30 Boxes – suitable for a studio or small one bedroom apartment, includes: 20 medium, 5 large, and 5 small boxes plus one roll of tape and one market. Note: I would also purchase an additional two rolls of tape to supplement this value pack.

Banker’s Boxes – for moving loose documents and folders; this 10-pack is suitable for a home office. Order more if you have a large home office with many booklets/folders/documents OR if you are moving a commercial office.

Banker’s Boxes 30 pack – for those who need a lot of banker’s boxes (i.e. commercial and large home officess)

Small Boxes – 25 pack – for medium to large households that have lots of very small items such as figurines, collector’s item, or mugs

Mirror Box – suitable for safely moving framed photos, artwork, and mirrors up to 48 x 4 x 33 in

Flat Screen TV Box – accommodates screens between 50 and 60 inches

Wardrobe boxes – I’m really not a fan of wardrobe boxes. Oftentimes, their construction is problematic, making using them way more complicated than it has to be. BUT I don’t fault my clients if they insist on using them for hanging clothing they wish to keep free of wrinkles and creases.

Plastic Storage Bins – if you’re moving to a place that has a little extra storage space, I highly recommend ditching the cardboard and investing in plastic containers for your move. You will thank yourself when you don’t have to buy boxes the next time you move…or when you need a plastic bin at a later date and realize you have plenty! This is a 4-pack of ~ 18 x 12 x 11-inch bins.

Plastic Bins in Assorted Sizes – This bin comes in packs of 5 of your single size of choice

Bubble Wrap – This stuff goes so quickly. If you have a moderate amount of fragile items, order two of these. If you have many fragile items and would also like to wrap art work and electronics (TVs, monitors), consider ordering 3.

Foam pouches for saucers – These are excellent. They expedite the process of packing a kitchen and allow you to save packing paper for serving dishes, vases, and other larger items.

Foam Pouches for larger plates and bowls

Foam pouches for glasses – get these and save time wrapping wine and cocktail glasses

Packing Paper – This actually a higher priority than bubble wrap because it’s a little more versatile, and one package lasts much longer than one roll of bubble wrap. Still, bubble wrap is useful for cushioning boxes.

Good Ole Scotch Packing tape – this 2 pack is appropriate for a studio or small one bedroom apartment

If you have many cothes, shoes, and/or household items or if your place is much larger than a one bedroom apartment, go ahead and spring for the 6 pack.

Room Labels – I usually inventory and label boxes by room manually. Tape labels make that process a little faster and easier for your movers to readily follow.

Room Stickers (Tape Alternative) – this pack includes Fragile sticers

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High-End Canisters Add Function and Style to Your Kitchen

[Disclosure: This post contains sponsored affiliate links; therefore, I receive a commission from the respective retailer for each click.]

MC Med Floral Canister

Mackenzie-Childs Medium Floral Canisters – 48 oz

Parchment Check Canisters

Mackenzie-Childs Large Parchment Check Cannisters – 64 Oz

GG Small Canister

G G Collection Small Canister

formasetti canisters

Wax Candle Canisters – Thyme, Lavender, Cedarwood, and Incense Blend