These tips might seem self-evident, but handling mail as it comes in prevents clutter:
* Throw away junk mail, but remove mailing labels with personal information and shred or tear up the labels before you toss junk mail in the trash.
* If you have online bill pay, schedule payments for bills as they arrive in the mail. Once you've paid the bill, stamp it as "PAID" and note the date paid.
* Throw away previous issues of any magazine to which you subscribe as the new one arrives, unless you are sure that you will go back and look at the old issues.
When I subscribed to Real Simple, I held onto the issues, as the matte pages and covers were too nice to throw out; also, I thought that I'd go back to older issues for any tips and other advice. Once I realized that I didn't go back to those previous issues, I threw out my collection of Real Simple. Now I'm holding onto issues of Domino. I don't always follow my own advice.
* The same principle applies to mail order catalogues. Too often, the content from one issue to another is the same; it's just been reorganized. When you receive the latest issue, throw out the previous issue.
In a subsequent article, I'll provide tips that I've found helpful on organizing paper files.