I must admit that when it comes to organizing my home office I have been downright lazy. I am very efficient at my office keeping the mail, accounts payable and important documents organized so that I can place my hands on them at any time. However, when it came to organizing my home office I failed miserably. I checked our mail only every few days and then would dump it on the counter or table to sit until I would panic over a bill that was due or a form that needed to be completed. I would waste time looking for important documents because I had no idea where we threw them down. I knew I needed to take drastic steps to organize my home office; therefore, I embarked on the following 7-step program to organizing my home office.
1. I seem to be able to sort and distribute the ton of mail our office receives each day but I am lazy about doing this at home with the few items we receive. A key to keeping mail and bills organized is immediately pitch junk mail as soon as it comes into the house. I placed a recycle box inside my home beside the front door to pitch junk mail immediately before I go on through the house. It only takes me a few seconds and has been a key to my success in conquering my “mountain of mail”. In addition, I adopted each and every tip in LifeOrganizers.com’s article “7 Secrets for Cutting Down on Junk Snail Mail”. This has severely decreased the amount of junk mail that I must deal with each week.
2. The second step in my seven-step program was to force myself to open the mail and bills every day rather than letting them pile up. After I choose a place to put the mail each day, I would let it pile up without opening it. I would look at the stack of mail and bills and think, “I’ll open those after while” and then after while never seemed to be a good time. In order to organize bills and mail, you must open the mail. You cannot organize mail and bills unless they are opened first.
3. I have a small home and do not have the space to have a huge desk even though this is the ideal place to organize mail, bills and documents. I realized that there are several solutions to this problem such as secretary desks, corner desks, small computer stations and portable workstations. I choose the Morgan Corner Computer Desk with Hutch ($219.99) to save space but also have room for storage. I added a small 2-drawer filing cabinet beside the desk for storing documents in a nice, organized manner.
4. I now was well on my way to organizing my bills, mail and documents. I had stopped the junk mail from coming into the house, opened my mail and had a place to sit and organize it. Now what do I do with it? I put my expertise in being a shop-alcoholic to the test and began my search for items I would need to be an Organized Mail Goddess. The problem you can run into is purchasing items that you will not use or that will be too much of a pain in the neck to keep using. I suggest that you make a list of everything you think you need or want, post that on your desk and wait three weeks before buying them. Organize your mail, bills and documents for those three weeks referring often to your list of supplies to see which ones would actually be helpful to you and note those on your list.
5. In order to keep my bills readily accessible and within constant view so that I will pay them on time each month, I choose to keep them in weekly file folders. There are many computer programs, electronic bill organizers and PDAs that you can use to keep your bills organized; however, for me I must have them physically in my face. The best solution for me was to use a file folder holder that sits on my desk to hold my bills. I have four file folders labeled for each week of the month. As I open bills or other mail that will need paid or have a response, I place it in the appropriate file folder. At the end of each week, I pull the current week’s folder and pay the bills in that folder or respond to any other documents that need attention. This has worked great for keeping me organized and on time with bills, correspondence, RSVPs, etc.
6. I have realized that part of the solution to controlling and organizing mail, bills and documents is to get them back OUT of the house in a timely manner. One of my downfalls was that I would write out my bills but then leave them laying somewhere and forget to put them in the mail. The solution to this problem was a simple $22 letter holder that I mounted next to the door I use to leave my house each day. If I write bills, correspondence or complete any document that needs to go out of my house, I immediately place it in the letter holder by the door so that I can easily pick it up when I leave the house the next day.
7. My final step in conquering the mail, bills, documents and enormous amount of paper that flows through our home and our lives is to take the leap into the 21st century. I searched and found a wonderful computer software program that will allow me to organize our important documents as well as everyday papers in a convenient, easy and efficient medium. Home Organizer will turn my computer into a virtual file cabinet that will not only keep me organized but helps me to be a greener, eco-friendly person. I suggest that you use free trials and tutorials of several programs until you find the one that best suits your needs. This program was best for my specific needs but you may find that another program is better for you.