The kitchen is the hub of the home; the place where everyone gathers before they rush out the door and as they settle in for the night. And because everyone gathers there, so does their stuff — purses and backpacks, homework and craft projects, and all those random odds and ends that get collected throughout the day.
One of those things, however, you should banish immediately: that pile of unopened mail. Get it off the counter and off the table.
"That mail is a pile of procrastination," says Lorie Marrero, creator of The Clutter Diet. The reason why? If you've just dumped it on your kitchen counter, it means you haven't processed yet — meaning you haven't gone through to decide what's necessary and what's not. Plus, it makes your kitchen look messy. And even beyond that, it means that mail doesn't have a home somewhere else in your space (like, say, your home office) that you've designated for it to live.
That's not to say that if you don't have a home office, you're out of luck. You just have to consciously designate a spot for that mail to live. "The same way you have an inbox for incoming email, you should have a basket or other container specifically for incoming mail and paper," says Marrero. That box could be on a console table by the front door or even (yes) on your kitchen counter — it just has to be intentional.
Once you've got a designated spot, it's time to tackle the other problem: the fact that it's a pileup. "If you have a pile of mail, you risk [not seeing] important papers and not paying bills on time," says Marrero. It's obviously important that you "process" your incoming mail in a timely manner in order to stay on top of it.
"Go through your reading material, bills, letters, and the like and practice what I call the ART of managing paper," says Marrero. Sort mail into the following three categories:
ACTION: Papers that require a next step, like a call to make, bill to pay, or information that's an active part of a larger project.
REFERENCE: Papers you just need to file.
TRASH: Stuff you don't need!
Then just make sure you're sorting through your box regularly — at least once a week — to keep on top of it so you don't get overwhelmed.
If you find you're getting a ton of actual junk mail (read: catalogues you don't want), use an app like Paper Karma to cut down on the influx. Because this kind of mail is so obvious, Marrero recommends recycling it before you even walk through the door if you can.
More on Clutter in the Kitchen
How do you handle your family's mail? Does it pile up on the kitchen table? Is it in an organized bin? Something in between?