Who Needs It? Challenge #4: Return to Sender

veggiesausagebuttonOkay, my friend Sarah is no longer blogging so the “Who Needs It” decluttering challenge series isn’t happening anymore (though you can see all of my posts here), but I had started this challenge back in March and I figured I could at least finish my blog post about what I’ve done since it’s been sitting in my drafts forever. I’ve felt so much better since “de-cluttering” a few spaces in our home, and I really want to keep up with it on an ongoing basis as a way to keep my environment calm and clean, so here is what we did with our paper situation!


The March Challenge – Return to Sender:

Challenges for dealing with your mail this month:

  1. Observe your mail for the rest of this week. What comes in, where does it go, what are the problems?
  2. Identify your Mail Goes To Die area(s).
  3. Set a timer and sort through your pile for TEN minutes.Get access to a paper shredder (if you don’t have one). Your place of employment, local library, post office, or copy centre should have one you can use. If not, and you have room for it, consider investing in one. It’s sooooooo satisfying.
    • BILLS: Move ONE bill to an online bill with an email reminder.
    • JUNK: Remove yourself from their mailing list. This might take some time, you might have to call, but it will be worth it.
  4. Consider opting out of “junk mail” altogether. This seems a little easier to do in Canada than in the States (and I didn’t look elsewhere…sorry. I still love you very much and want you to stop getting shit in the mail too.)
    1. Canada Post – How do I stop delivery of unwanted Admail items to my home or business?
    2. United States Postal Service – How to Stop Unwanted Mail

What are your biggest issues with mail?
Why do you think mail is so hard to deal with in your house?
Are you SUPER GOOD at dealing with mail clutter? If so, HOOOOOOW?


Honestly, my incoming paper mail is not bad at all. I do every single bill possible through online bill pay, and last year our post office started keeping a 95 gallon polycart recycling bin by the front door. When I pick up my paper mail, I stop at the table by the recycling bin and immediately sort my mail. That 30 second stop keeps 80% of the mail from even entering my home. If your local post office doesn’t do this, ask them to. It’s awesome – for your junk mail AND the environment!

Once I get home, I put the newspaper and letters that Charlie should see on the counter. A couple of times a week I sort through that pile and toss! I’m surprisingly unattached to cards and such most of the time, so this process isn’t too bad. The bills get paid immediately and I try to file the invoices immediately. Sometimes they pile up for a month at a time on the desk (which is located in our guest room/office), but since that room gets a fair amount of use by our visiting family & friends, I’m getting better at filing on a pretty regular basis to keep things organized. If I had to choose one place “mail goes to die” in my house, it would be the dining room table. It has helped a lot to move every bill possible to auto-pay through our credit card though (yay air miles!), so that things can go straight to the “filing” pile in the guest room / office.

My biggest issue before this challenge was the complete disorganization of my filing system. We had a tiny file cabinet drawer in our cheap ass desk from years ago, and then we got a sweet wooden filing cabinet from a local yard sale last year, but I’d never really combined everything and properly divided work vs. personal files (I do all of the bookkeeping for my husband’s concrete business as well). This challenge motivated me to go through everything while I was getting our tax information in order, and organize things so that it’s easier to keep on top of filing in the future.

We also had 2 ancient printers that needed to go (one was a scanner/photo printer that was crazy expensive to buy ink cartridges for, one was a hand-me-down laser printer that was also expensive to maintain). I finally got rid of those and bought 1 combo unit that can wirelessly print, as well as scan/fax/email/give birth to your first born child. It has saved so much room on our desk, and I love being able to print from our living room couch.

The one other change we’d like to do is invest in a bigger desk that works better for Charlie. He often needs to lay out architectural plans when he is bidding foundations and flatwork for his concrete company, and the current desk is just WAY too small to do this, much less have space to be writing/typing up a bid at the same time. We will never have the space for a separate office in this house, but I’d like to at least make it comfortable for Charlie when he’s working and trying to make us more money!

So there ya go, I didn’t have to do any major changes for this challenge, but just being better organized about how/where/when I file has definitely helped to lessen the piles around the home, and that makes me happy!


To Do List for Organization of the “Office Space” and our files:

  • Reorganize existing filing cabinets to keep personal & business files separate.
  • Buy storage bins for previous year tax records to store for the requisite 7 years (and not have them cluttering up our current limited filing space)
  • Buy a new all-in-one wireless printer and get rid of the 2 old ones.
  • Invest in a larger desk that works better for Charlie’s work flow.
  • QUIT PILING MAIL ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER & TABLE! (<– the never ending item)


  1. mcmissis · · Reply

    I used to be sooooo good about paying bills the second I opened them. Then, I had kids and failed. I do immediately recycle everything except bills and cards. But as soon as McMister sees the card, it usually goes straight to recycling, too. He’s waaaay more sentimental about personal mail than I am.

  2. […] & Pantry Challenge 3: Start Small Area 4: The Master Bedroom Closets – Stage 1 Challenge 4: Return to Sender Area 5: The Guest Room […]

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