The place where you drop your mail as you come in the door is probably one of the most important places in your home. When it comes to incoming bills and the resulting outgoing payments you want to make sure everything is accounted for. That’s why it’s so important to create an organized mail station.
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I’ve looked at tons of “command centers” on Pinterest. But none of them work for my lifestyle. They’re all designed by moms with 3+ kids for moms with 3+ kids.
I’m in the category of married without children. My husband and I don’t get much mail at all. It’s just our household bills, credit card offers, and the occasional local coupon that everyone gets. We pay all of our bills online so the only thing we actually mail is our rent check. Sure we could do that through the bill pay feature from our bank’s website but it’s easier for us and our landlords to just mail them a regular check. Besides, my husband still has checks from like six years ago that he’s trying to use up because they have a super old address on them. Sometimes I’ll get an alcohol rebate that I have to mail in. But really that’s it.
When I still had roommates I tried several different methods for dealing with the mail. One of us would grab it from the mailbox and then dump it in a central location where we could all dig through it. Then I was left with a basket overflowing with credit card offers because everyone would grab the mail they wanted and leave the rest behind. Then all sorts of other odds and ends would find their way into my mailbox and I would let it go for a few months before cleaning it out again.
Now that it’s just Josh and I together I think I’ve finally stumbled upon a way that works for us. I hope it will work for you too.
Location, Location, Location
Where you put your mail station is a huge factor in its success. Pay attention to where the mail gets dumped in your house. Often times it is a counter top or on the dining table. I put a shelf right next to our front door and for the most part that’s where the mail gets dumped. Try to create your mail station near one of these natural dumping points. This will make it easier for your family
Recycling Bin or Garbage
One of the best tips I’ve read online is to put a garbage can or recycling bin next to where you read your mail. You know you’re flipping through it as soon as you grab it. This way you can toss any junk before you even get to your mail station.
There are multiple methods to safely dispose of credit card offers to avoid identity theft. The best way to do this is to buy a shredder and split the shreddings into different garbage cans in your home. Before I bought my shredder I just threw all of my mail into my kitchen garbage (it was the main garbage in my small apartment). This meant the garbage bags were always full of vegetable scraps, kitchen waste, and kitty litter. This makes it a lot less appealing to steal your identity than someone who takes their mail into their office and throws it all away in a garbage can full of paper.
Designated Baskets or Pockets
Whenever you start a new organizing project I recommend you start with things you have lying around your home. If they work then you just did your project for free, if they don’t work you know exactly what about them doesn’t work so when you do choose to purchase something you know what to look for.
When I still lived with roommates I purchased this Smead wall organizer. It was fantastic, I loved it. But since we each received mail so infrequently it would be easy to miss a letter slipped into our pocket. One time my grandparents sent me a letter that was also addressed to Josh. It had money in it so I was freaking out. Turns out he hadn’t checked his mail in a week and didn’t know it was there.
Walmart has Sterilite 6 Quart Storage Boxes for about a dollar a piece. So I grabbed a couple of them to use for organizing around the house. It had a lid so it seemed like it would work well for this project. I gathered all of my mail supplies; envelopes, stamps, and mailing labels so I could have them all in one place. This seems like common sense but I used to keep this stuff all over my apartment. There was no system at all.
Creating a System
The cute brown envelopes are actually left over wedding invitation envelopes. I bought a ton of them because I thought I was going to use them for thank-yous as well but I opted to do photo cards through Walmart and I got free envelopes with them. And yes, my wedding invitation envelopes do have Batman Forever stamps on them. But they are unfortunately no longer available for purchase. The stamps are ones I found on the ground like five years ago (shows how often I use stamps).
I also have return address labels that I printed out. I also printed out labels with my landlord’s address. I got sick of my husband asking me for the address every time he went to mail the rent check. This way he just has to stick labels on and throw it in the mailbox. Also his handwriting is terrible so this really is the best way.
I always buy Avery labels. You can download Microsoft Word templates to use on your computer. If you don’t have Microsoft Word you can create an account and create your labels through their website. It creates a PDF you can download and then print from your computer It’s awesome. I used Avery 8160 for my return labels and Avery 18163 Shipping Labels to label all of my baskets.
Setting Up Your Mail Station
I use some small shelves next to my front door for storing all of my mail stuff. I’ve got my inbox, my mail supplies, my “to be shredded” box for junk mail, and my magazine basket. I accidentally got on this magazine mailing list years ago. I canceled the card I used but they still keep sending them to me. I tried to get unsubscribed to them through an app and it said I couldn’t unsubscribe because I had subscribed through a third party. Weird. So I collect them and then dump them in the library’s magazine swap box.
Yes, this is also the wallet and keys drop spot as well as my laundry supplies spot. My apartment’s laundry room is right next door so it makes the most sense for me to put my laundry spot here. I also keep the extra batteries here because I don’t know where else to put them. You can find out more about battery organization here.
Complete your station by having it near your main household calendar. Mine is right on the other side of my front door. So any time sensitive coupons and invitations can go right on the calendar. You can learn more about my calendar system here.
How do you deal with your mail organization? Share your tips and tricks in the comments.