October 18, 2011

{OrganizedHome} Day 18: Create an Action File

Some organizational gurus will tell you to handle a piece of paper only once.  File papers immediately. Pay bills upon receiving them.  RSVP to parties and then dispose of or file the invite.

I'm not an organizational guru. I'm a mom who sometimes opens the mail while the spaghetti is boiling over and a two year old is hanging on my leg.


So in my counter organizer I have a slot labeled "action" and another labeled "file".  When I open mail I put things that require a response from me, such as bills or party invitations, into the "action" file.   Things that can simply be filed when I get a chance, such as bank statements, go in the "file" file.

It's simple, it's tidy, and it works for me. 

Do you have a system for dealing with incoming mail?

[This is day 18 in a 31 day series called 31 Days to An Organized Home.  Thanks for visiting!]

26 comments:

  1. That's exactly what I do. I have a hanging folder that I made and it has action and file. I clear out the file slot every Friday (well I try). it works for me.

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  2. I just "found" your site yesterday!!! I am SOOO excited! I'm terrible at organization! I'm a wannabe organizer with no real plan and I seem to be a lot like you that when I want to re-organize something, it has to be the ENTIRE THING! Which, usually means a bigger mess than I started with. Thank you so much for this, I am starting TODAY!

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  3. I use a notebook to keep track of my bills, it has each bill listed so I never miss one. I pay bills twice a month, on the 1st and the 15th, and any bills I get in the mail go into a pocket in the notebook. Anything else that can be filed, I just file immediately. It usually just takes a second, the files are nicely organized, I have no trouble finding what goes where, I just slip the paper in and walk away. Anything else that's not a bill or to be filed, like event info, goes on a cork board hidden inside a kitchen cabinet.

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    1. This is what My parents always did and what I'm going to go back to but I'm also going to start using a mail organizer like she showed above. I seem to lose track of my statements in the chaos. :S

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  4. I just came over to your site from sometimessweet.blogspot.com and I am so glad I did! I had my first baby 4 months ago and I am now needing to get out of my disorganized, adjusting stage into a nice clean state of being. Now that I know the way things are going to be working in our tiny apartment, now with our little daughter here, I am so excited to use the info you have been posting! I LOVE your ideas and how you have been able to get your house to be so peacefully organized. Thank you so much for posting all of this! Wish me luck! :D

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  5. I do something similar, but I open my mail right over the recycling bin to reduce my paper right away. With anything that requires "action," I put it in a stand-up file like that, and I actually put 10 minutes slots on my calendar in order to get them done.

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  6. That's a cute idea. I think everyone is on the same wave length right now because a lot of people are talking about getting organized. I guess things are getting pretty hectic for everybody right now.

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  7. I get overwhelmed with trying to make "systems" that work...I like that you kept it really basic...I have 4 kids, work a full time job outside the home, and have 2 part time Direct Sales jobs...the paper flow is endless! I used to just buy more and more containers and toss things in a pile and forget about them...I am on a mission to purge the gazillion pieces of papers that I already have in my house and to curb the flow of any in-coming items...Thanks for your tips--I am new to your blog but already love what I am seeing! :)

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  8. Love this blog! I'm reading it straight through since it's November now! I have Action Folders and Pay Folders and File Folders but they are overflowing because I rarely file. It just becomes a jumbled mess! I only have three kids and work part time but I have a hard time facing the endless paper trails....

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  9. I think I am officially in love with you...ehh your ideas :D

    Thank you for sharing all your great tips!

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  10. I look through the mail(and go through the kids backpacks) near the recycling bin, then I never have 'stuff' I don't need sitting on my counter. Love the Action file idea because like you I do many things at once, and I don't have time to file bank statements pay bills right away.

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    1. My apartment complex has a trash bin right outside the mail room but I think I'm going to suggest that they put in a recycling bin as well.

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  11. Thanks for the great ideas!

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  12. We're getting ready for a big move so its not really a great idea for me to be buying cute things like your file box so I cut apart a two pocket folder (like kids use in school) and I used hot glue and ribbon to make it into a hanging mail sorter. Very cute cheap way to do what your doing and I won't have to worry about it getting broken during the move! :) Thank you for the suggestion

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  13. I love your organizer. Any suggestions on where to find something like it? Everything I've found so far looks like it should be in a dorm room or on an executive's desk, not my little organizing nook in the corner of the kitchen.

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    1. I bought mine at Homesense. Which, as I understand it, is the Canadian version of HomeGoods. I hope you can find something that works for you :)

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    2. Thanks for the tip, Kelly!

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  14. If a paper bill enters my home it will inevitably get lost, so I set it up so that all my bills come in my email. Once I pay a bill I delete the email. That way I can easily tell what I have paid and what I still need to pay. Plus it's eco-friendly!

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  15. I just found you...THANK YOU... mine are not 2 yrs old...but still throwing papers and chasing my dog after he grabs papers from left out backpacks... can you visualize... I am always trying to get more organized... thank you!!!

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  16. A great tip! I have just come across your site, and it's so inspiring an fun to read. I will be visiting often!

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  17. I am loving your 31 days to organzed series! Something that has worked for me and our family as far as the mail and paper clutter is I get as many things paperless as possible. All of our bank statements and bills come through my email so I don't have to deal with the paper.

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    1. Just found your blog and can't stop reading the 31 days to an organized home. Very good ideas so far. I am drowning in papers. I like to rip out recipes, craft ideas for my daughter and I, and I keep piling up all those other papers from the mail, sports, or school. I am going to try your system for some of the papers....just need to find a good way to organize my recipes and craft ideas.

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  18. I'm really enjoying all ur tips. I admire your humility about how a mom deals with organizing and life.

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  19. I hate that cluttered space at the end of my kitchen counter where all the mail ends up. I may give it one last try with your system - it sounds simple and effective - but then I'm a lost cause whose given up on ever getting the paper clutter under control.
    I have promised myself though that I will tackle it - one more time, so I don't get totally buried in paper by Christmas. I feel like I'm choking on paper.

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  20. I like your 3 tier wooden file organizer. Can you pls tell me where you bought it? thanks!

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