Mail Organization Tips for Small Spaces

As someone who has a large family in a small space I know how challenging it is to find ways to have good mail organization without an office. However it’s even more imperative that we do keep papers and files under control because we don’t have any room for error.

I am currently reading The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds and it’s been such a game changer. While the book is not about small space living, I have adapted it and combined Leeds organizational style with methods that I’ve already had in place.

 

Tips for mail organization

 

Here are 5 mail organization tips that we use to keep incoming mail from overtaking our limited living quarters.

 

  1. Keep Your Mail in the Mail Box until you are ready to sort it

In the book The 8 Minute Organizer, Leeds recommends having a basket, but a basket of mail would take up too much valuable flat-space-real-estate (i.e. counter or table top). So in our case I consider the mail box the basket. This means keeping all the mail out of the home until you are ready to sort it. It’s one way to maximize exterior space as storage.

   2. Sort and toss 

Because we live in a tiny space sorting the mail immediately is pretty crucial. So we forgo the basket idea proposed in the book. I suggest immediately throwing away junk mail and shredding anything that may contain personal information (or in our case rip it up).

  1. File important mail

8 Minute organizer recommends action files labeled “Pending, to call, to do, to file, to pay, to read.” That’s sounds like a great idea. We are not that organized yet. For now we each have individual files. The kid’s don’t get much mail other than medical documents, but they do have homework.

mail organization for small spaces

This system has been a tremendous help to us. Since the files are up on a shelf it saves floor space. We do have a filing cabinet where we keep critical documents, but for the pending everyday stuff we use these Ikea cardboard magazine files in the kitchen (they’re only 99 cents for a 4 pack!).

4. Stay on top of the old mail

It’s not about just sorting incoming mail. If you file something that needs to be paid, or a form that is supposed to be filled out you should schedule it on your calendar immediately so that you don’t forget about it. You should also go through your pending files regularly. For me I go through each family file monthly. I am not saying I have mastered all this, but I have come a long way!

5. Go paperless as much as possible

Direct deposit, ebills, and AutoPay are our best friend. For one, you are automatically more organized because the computer is paying things on time for you. Also, you are helping the environment by trying to be as paperless as possible and lastly you are saving space because all of those letters and envelopes  are no longer floating around your home.

Most of these mail organization tips can work for anyone that wants a better system for mail organization, not just those living in small spaces. Still, there is a lot of information out there about organizing mail and not all of it works when you don’t have a home office, or even an average size home.

I have to give credit to my husband because he is the one that gets the mail and pays the bills, but I did the filing system. And together we learned that keeping the mail in the box until you are ready to sort it, filing right away, going through old files regularly, and doing online bill pay has made all the difference.

Hopefully these 5 mail organization tips have been helpful for other small space families. For more tips, tricks, and advice about living in a small space check out Lots of Hope in a Little Home here on Messymom.com.

lots of hope in a little home mail organization

Good luck with all that mail!

 

 

By | April 28th, 2016|Lifestyle, Simple Living|3 Comments

Hope For Homeschooling In Small Spaces

 One of the things I have learned along the way in this journey is how you can homeschool in a very small space. When we had to pull Z out of school last year I just began working with him in the parent lounge in the upper level of SJ’s school, and I was amazed at what we accomplished.

 It made me realize that you can homeschool almost anywhere.

If I had to share one tip for someone homeschooling with limited amount of “classroom” space I would say to become best friends with your local library.

 

I know every library is different, but even the most basic of branches have books, that much I can guarantee. This is a great way to get some free resources and not have to keep them stored. Just use, learn, and return. Our library even had “learning packs” that you check out according to themes like rhyming, manners, music, etc. Each big duffel bag included toys, games, flash cards, books, videos and more that were all focused on that one subject. It was awesome.

Now, I am not a homeschool expert by any means. I just happen to be curious about it and interested in learning more. So I asked some friends of mine to share their input about homeschooling in small spaces.

Jen and her husband have 4 children and have lived in a variety of different apartments and rental properties which all would qualify as small. She is the one that sent me the poem that I posted yesterday and she is the first one I asked to help me share tips on homeschooling in small spaces.

Her number one piece of advice was to keep things simple. When it comes to supplies and curriculum Jen likes to make sure she is using what she has and if not then get rid of it. She also says that their family table is multipurpose. They use it as a dining table, but it is also where they do school.


With three small boys at least one of them has to be running around half naked right? 

Jen not only tolerates having a smaller home, she actually appreciates it. She says “Everyone has varied reasons for homeschooling. However, usually a common denominator regardless of reasons is a desire for togetherness. Small spaces certainly provide that! Yes, some days are hard, but I wouldn’t trade it. I like being able to hear and see what is going on from my perch in the kitchen and I like that it gives us ample reason to choose an intentional lifestyle.”

Lastly Jen pointed me to a great blog resource, Raising Life Long Learners (which has tons of info on homeschooling in small spaces), and Philippians chapter 4 (an encouragement for moms in the thick of this stuff). I will definitely be checking those out.

I also want to introduce you to another friend of mine. 
Andrea is the lady I called up when I began teaching Z. She has tons of helpful advice, especially when it comes to homeschooling boys, because she has 6 of them.
That’s right, SIX! 
Andrea and her husband made do with 1,600 square feet for the longest time. They did eventually add on, but she said there is still not a ton of room to work with. I can imagine. When I asked her advice about homeschooling in small spaces she talked about using the dining room table too.
She likes to buy educational place mats (including the ASL alphabet, which makes me grin), she then covers the table with a clear table cloth she buys by the yard at Hobby Lobby.
Andrea has lots of little organizational tips like keeping art/school supplies in an over the door shoe pouch hanger, or having a “locker’ for each child which she uses crates for.
One thing I thought was neat about both ladies is that they are not trying to duplicate the traditional school environment. If you want to have a desk or a locker in your home then that might be fun, but I like the idea of learning in the home environment and just embracing that.
Let’s talk about one more friend. Ashley and her family are always on the move because of her husbands job. 
This pic of Ashley has nothing to do with homeschooling. I just wanted to show it because it’s cute.
This means small and temporary living quarters. 
It would be difficult, or impossible to switch school districts non stop, so they have chosen to homeschool on the go and it’s worked out extremely well. They use an online program called k12 which brings the virtual classroom to the student, and because it is a charter school it is completely free!

Her boys have been able to learn about the world while traveling through it!

If you are waiting for the ideal space and the perfect situation to start taking charge of your children’s education then consider some of these stories. Homeschooling isn’t for everybody, but if it is something you desire then be encouraged that there is lots HOPE, even for the littlest homeschool.
Check out my index page for more of this series
By | October 29th, 2013|Lifestyle, Schooling, Simple Living|35 Comments

“Lots of Hope In A Little Home” Index Page

Welcome To My 31 days series on finding lots of hope in a little home.

Over the next 25 posts you will read about how my family of 5 has comfortable lived in less than 800 square feet for the last two years. Along with my personal store you will also be encouraged to never loose hope even in the midst of difficult circumstances, as well as some practical information on simplicity, and thinking outside of the box when it comes to how to set up your setup.

  1. My 31 Day Topic Announcement
  2. Why We Downsized
  3. 31 Day Index 
  4. One Simple Couch 
  5. The Hideaway Coffee Table
  6. Sunday Quote
  7. How To Put Hardwood Flooring Over Carpet
  8. The Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Kitchen 
  9. The Kitchen Expansion
  10. The Moveable Dining room
  11. A Simple Crib
  12. Sunday quote
  13. The Benefits of Room Sharing 
  14. Sharing a Bathroom
  15. Sunday Quote 
  16. Hang it, hang it, hang it 
  17. Three Life Lessons That Forced Me To Simplify 
  18. A Big Milestone In a Small Space 
  19. Party Decor and Festivities 
  20. Christmas in a Small Space 
  21. Sunday Quote 
  22. Homeschooling in a small space 
  23. The Loft style closet
  24. The Bedroom Reveal 
  25. There is HOPE
 I’ve been overjoyed to see all the positive feedback since writing this series in 2013. Several posts have been pinned and shared. I’ve also received questions from strangers needing clarification on certain projects. All of which is welcome. I am not some hot shot blogger so I just get tickled pink when someone contacts me. With that said, I would love to hear from you, and if you are currently living in a small space I pray that you would find happiness and fulfillment right where you are. Be blessed friend.
By | October 3rd, 2013|Simple Living, Uncategorized|10 Comments