Just as I was beginning to feel caught up on paperwork after Thanksgiving, the mail dropped through the slot in my front door. The enormous thud actually made me groan. In December, the constant stream is relentless.
The key to not feel overwhelmed by paper is to take time to "process" your mail each day. Here are some tips.
Take a quick look at each day's arrivals. Recycle as many as possible and set aside only those that you know you will look through. For those you find difficult to discard, remember that many retailers send almost the same one each week, and you can always find what you need online. To reduce the flow next year, go to www.catalogchoice.org to opt out of mailings from specific retailers or call the number on the back of each publication.
Cards are definitely the most fun thing to open this time of year, but they also pile up quickly. After you admire your cousin's new baby, make note of the return address and recycle the envelope.
Discard everything except the statement and the return envelope (if you plan to mail your payment). Place all the bills in one place, pay them every two weeks, and file at the end of the month.
As 2012 draws to a close, charitable organizations are making their final push for donations. Take some time to find records of your previous donations and log them all into one document. This will make your final giving decisions easier.
RSVP to them immediately. The host will be thrilled with the prompt response, and you won't have to add the task to your growing to-do list. Don't forget to put the details on your calendar.
Resist the urge to just stack them in the corner. If you need the items to remain secret, wrap them or consolidate them in a sealed container that you can store temporarily. Keep the receipts and instructions for making returns. Place all the paperwork in a large envelope and keep a running list of whom each gift is from.
Carefully consider each of those postcard-size mailers that contain coupons or discount certificates from retailers. Chances are you won't need them, but if you do receive a coupon that you know will be useful, put it in your wallet or place it next to your computer so it's handy when shopping online.