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I think I'm facing a problem that most people face.
And I think that some people deal with this problem better than others.

My wife and I work 9-5 jobs.
When we arrive home, after a day at work, we're tired.
Sometimes, especially when we work overtime, we have just enough energy to cook dinner and watch a TV program before bed.

During the week, we accumulate newpapers, magazines, bills, mail, and other items.
Often, we promise ourselves to process and sort these items when we have either more time or more energy.

The unfortunate reality is: We often just put these items wherever it is most convenient at time. This means that mail piles up on a kitchen counter. Larger mail deliveries accumulate just inside the front door.

My Question:

Where should these items go? Does IKEA manufacture an industrial strength inbox for all of this stuff that is to be processed later?

Yes, we typically sort and process these items on the weekend. But it just seems like other households manage their "inbox" better than we do.

Do we just need a big bin for all of this stuff?
Although we don't live in an overly large home, I don't think that a lack of space is our problem. Many people who live in small apartments appear to manage this problem much better than we do.

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migrated from Dec 6 '11 at 9:23

This question came from our site for contractors and serious DIYers.

up vote 6 down vote accepted

"Clutter" is only clutter when it isn't in its rightful place, or if you don't need it. You obviously have a place for "bills" but not one for "unopened mail", so the tried solution is to create a place for it.

A big bin is good, several bins are even better. Placing them just inside the door is a good idea too. Then you can unload them from your hands before you start undoing your shoe laces. Think of how you process your mail. You'll need as many different bins as the number of your different mail processes. For example, if you manage bills and contract obligations once a week, read a magazine when you have free time and are tired, and answer friends and relatives with priority, make three bins. You really should sort the stuff into categories based on your tasks, not on common taxonomy. If you are equally likely to read a book or a magazine before going to bed, put book deliveries together with the magazines, not together with random packages.

Once you have the mail in your hands, sort it into them, making a fourth pile headed directly for the recycling bin. Don't open it at this point, unless you really want to see the content. The sender is usually the only information you need to sort most of the mail. When you have time for a task, just grab the pile for it. Add a fourth bin for "outbox", it is convenient to have that near the door too, for grabbing just before going out.

I used the word "bin", because this is what you used, and it fits the metaphor well. But literal bins will be rather ugly. You can make better solutions. A cabinet will be the full-sized solution. You can choose one which has a big space for packages, and drawers for your "bins". It can also have a partition for stuff which isn't mail but has to be taken out, like shoes to be taken to the shoemaker. Or, if you have a light mail volume, hang good-looking receptacles on the wall. The utalitarian solution would be to use magazine holders, but you can put different mail boxes on the inside, or use small hanging cabinets. You can use embroidered canvas bags if that's what fits your decoration, it doesn't matter. The point is that once it has its place, it isn't cluttering the nearest horizontal surface. And if you don't have space inside the door, you can set it up in another room just as easy.

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My wife and I each has a mail tray. If I pick up the mail, the first thing I do is to deposit her mail in her tray. Also anything for both of us, including junk mail, that I am not interested in goes to her tray. The remaining mail goes in my tray. She does the same if she picks up the mail. Also anything we want to pass to each other we deposit in the others tray.

Everyday, I intentionally make the time to look into my tray searching for anything that requires immediate attention and take care of it. The rest remains for the weekend. I also throw away the junk mail on the spot.

Once you get in the habit, it becomes very easy and does not take time at all. You can bring your tray next to you while watching TV and clean it during boring commercials.

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This is very similar to my household's set-up. – Belisama Jun 11 '12 at 9:44

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