Living with Less, Week 4: Incoming Mail & Electronic Files

Living with Less, Week 4: Incoming Mail & Electronic Files

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Landis Carey
Feb 17, 2011

Okay, so you're thinking...this week was supposed to be about living with fewer books and magazines. I know, I'm sorry. The schedule had to be adjusted, and here's why: as I began tackling our home office, I couldn't determine which magazines and books were essential or organize files until the junk mail stopped proliferating and our digital file structure was updated. So, I'll rename this week to: Establishing Order to Live with Less.

Project Recap: During Living with Less, Week 2: Clothes and Coat Closets, I pared-down my clothing from three bedroom closets to just the one in our master bedroom. And in Living with Less, Week 3: Linen Closet, I realized with a little order and organization, I could conveniently store a set of cleaning supplies, right where I needed them most.

Lessons Learned: Living with Less, Week 4

  • Preparation: Before tackling an overwhelming task, like editing and paring back a home office, your space must first successfully function. In this case, a home office needs to provide us with the tools to accept incoming paperwork and bills, prioritize them and file them.
  • Incoming: Like above, before taking on such a project, you first need to control the inflow of matter into that space. Inflows include: paperwork for drawer file; paperwork for electronic file; mail needing reply; prioritized bills; junk mail. Make a plan for this. How will you deal with these items as you bring them in from the mailbox? Will you have a landing strip where they can temporarily reside?
  • Junk Mail: Several weeks ago I wrote the round-up Stop Your Junk Mail with These Great Services. This is where I began and I suggest everyone do the same. I decided to go with Tonic (previously Green Dimes)—I'd used their service while living in Brooklyn and found it to be excellent. It takes six weeks for junk mail to completely die down, so keep that in mind.
  • Storage: Do you plan on keeping both electronic and paper files? Carefully consider your needs: make a list of the paperwork you currently have and what you can expect in the future. Does it make sense to begin an electronic filing system? Do you already have a scanner? If so, it should reside near the computer that will house your files. Clearly label (in a logical hierarchy) both electronic and paper files for easy identification.
  • Outgoing: Your home office should have three bins for outgoing matter: garbage; recycling; shredding. If you plan on storing files electronically, commit to that: only keep copies of the most important paperwork and shred everything else.

Updated Agenda
Week 1: Setting the Agenda
Week 2: Clothes and Coat Closets
Week 3: Linen Closets
Week 4: Incoming Mail and Electronic Files
Week 5: Office, files and documents
Week 6: Office, books and magazines
Week 7: Bathroom, medicine cabinets
Week 8: Kitchen, cooking utensils
Week 9: Kitchen, dining ware
Week 10: Kitchen, serving ware
Week 11: Cleaning supplies

Questions? Comments? Are you following along or thinking about doing so? Let us know!

(Image: RecycleScene)

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