Computers may be bringing about a "paperless...

Computers may be bringing about a "paperless society," but whoever believes that obviously does not have a mailing address.

Mail, like weight, seems to magically increase with age.

Sooner or later, one has to deal with the bills, invitations, solicitations, personal notes, junk mail (how did you get my name?), magazines and catalogues.

Whether you open your mail at home or at work (or both), Stephanie Culp, an organizational expert at the Organization in Los Angeles, offers the following tips to help you survive or avoid paper-noia:

Open Up--Open and sort the mail as soon as you get it. Throw away all junk inserts, then sort the mail into three categories: to do, to pay and to file. Junk mail gets special treatment: Try to read it (if you're interested) when you open it, and they do what you should do with junk--throw it away.

To Pay--Assign a basket or decorative box for all due bills and bank statements. Once a month (or whenever you get the money), take care of all of your financial and bookkeeping obligations in one sitting.

To Do--Assign another basket or box for everything else that requires some kind of action. Beware of pending files. The word suggests that action can be postponed.

ABC It--Some things get filed. OK, lots of papers get filed. Don't leave them on top of your desk or the dining room table. Place a large, shallow basket near your desk or wherever you open the mail. Everything that needs to be kept (for tax purposes or other reasons) goes into the basket until you have time to do the filing

Grab a Pen--Keep all your pens and pencils on top of your desk in one large container--the simpler the better. A transparent container that lets you clearly see the selection is better than a fancy opaque gizmo.

Trash It--Place a roomy trash container under your desk or in the area where you open the mail. Dinky, fancy trash cans have no place in an office area. One day's junk mail alone can topple a boudoir basket.

Out in the Open--Never keep any work in progress in drawers. All work in progress should go into the "to do" or "to pay" baskets and nowhere else. This guarantees that unfinished business won't become buried or lost in a drawer somewhere. At the same time, you can tell at a glance the amount of work to be done or the status of work in progress.

Number, Please--Business cards and scraps of paper with telephone numbers can build into mounds of clutter. Put all of these bits and pieces in a small basket, and periodically print or type them into your organized file.

Today's Date--Keep a calendar near the mail area. If you have two days to pay one bill and three weeks to pay another, the calendar will help you handle first things first.

Stay Tidy--Spend five or 10 minutes each day tidying your work area. The following day will begin better if you feel you are getting a fresh start.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World