If mail is piled (or buried) in multiple locations throughout your house, that means it doesn't have a home. Find a home for your mail that is easy to use and fun to see (a basket or box). A bright colored basket at your front door might be the perfect "target". Every time you enter with mail, you'll spot that basket and drop in the mail. It will stop wandering through the house. When you're ready to pay bills, you'll know where they are. But don't you don't have to put the mail by your entry door. Remember to work with your tendencies and habits. If you routinely open the mail at the kitchen counter, place a box or basket there. If you put it on your desk, have a container there. Whatever system you use should work for you and not force you to radically change your habits. Habits are hard to break so use them for your good. And make it attractive, as well as, FUNctional.
If you've been talking about someday putting all your photos into albums (or scanning), take your first step towards that goal today by getting your photos into one place. I strongly recommend using one or two photo boxes that are archive quality to store your photos in — for now. Don't organize them, just put all the photos you come across into your boxes — for now. You can toss out duplicates and out-of-focus shots, but no sorting by date, subject, or event. The idea is to get them safely stored until you're ready to move to the next step.
If you're wondering what to do with your photo albums, display them on a shelf so you can enjoy them easily or give them to friends or family members to enjoy. You can also have them scanned and uploaded to the cloud or put on a disc. And yes, it is okay to throw away pictures and whole albums if no one wants them.
You could go paperless and toss them if you've confirmed they are available on-line. You could also download the PDF and keep an electronic file. But if you've decided to keep the paper copies of your owner's manuals, I suggest you keep them in the room where the equipment is. Place a wall file in a cabinet or closet and drop your manuals in it.
PILES OF PAPER
Decrease the amount of paper coming in. Don't print out emails or information unless necessary and then. If you do print your email out throw it away/recycle/shred when you are finished. If you can't decide what to do about an invitation or piece of information, then put it an Idea Box to ripen. Later on, the decision should be easier to make. Spend some time each day or once a week going through your papers, maybe this is something you could do while watching TV. But remember Minutes Matter and just a few minutes now letting go, filing or taking action can save a lot of time and stress later.
Get rid of the ones you don't use. If you have a pile of recipes you'd like to try, make a point of trying a new recipe each week. If you don't use them but don't want to lose them because they are old family recipes, go electronic. You could create a recipe folder on your computer and add a recipe each week. If you have a scanner, scan it in. Or even delegate — pay a student to type it in. Use it or lose it. Check out other ways to Organize Your Recipes (As-Is) If it's important enough to keep, it's important enough to use.
The first step to making tax time a bit easier is to establish a home for your tax receipts. Place a file folder near your bill paying center and you can easily and quickly drop in receipts or statements that are tax related. Yes, even a shoe box is better than not having any "home" for your receipts and having to scramble to find the information next April.
Where are your owner's manuals? Put them there. And make sure your receipts are attached as well. Some companies are now making specific suggestions on where you should keep your warranties. For example, I was directed to place the warranty information for my new mattress between the box springs and the mattress. I have a hat (yes a hat with a warranty) that suggests placing the warranty information in the left-hand side of my sock drawer. If I call and can't remember where I put it, they know where to direct me (if I followed their suggestion).
If the thought of dealing with your paperwork is getting you down, consider joining a Paperwork Party™. You'll be amazed at how quickly the time goes and how much you accomplish when you're with friends who are working on their paperwork. We will be meeting online (virtually) and together we can each get our paperwork done in a fun, social atmosphere. You're not alone so come join the Paperwork Party™!