Monday, March 21, 2011

Mail Register: Keeping Track

Different people have different systems for keeping track of their mail. Misty Davis posted about her system here. Still, she continues to have a bit of trouble knowing which items have been responded to and which still need answering, etc.

Let me tell you about the system I use to keep up with my incoming and outgoing mail. I base it on a system I perfected years ago for my sewing, crafting, and crocheting projects. My main problem then was that so many of the things I wanted to keep track of fit into more than one category. For example, I had a crochet heart pattern that used red, white, and blue yarn and resembled an American flag when completed. Would I file it under crochet, or hearts, or Patriotic/4th of July??
Do you see the dilemma? No matter which category I picked, I was afraid I wouldn't remember it could be an option in the others.

After much trial and error, I finally worked out a system that made sense to me and was manageable. I could locate instructions for any pattern in seconds. And that was the goal, after all. I catalogued all of my items with a simple numbering system, 1, 2, 3... New instructions were labeled with the next number and everything was filed in numerical order.

Next I made an index file with cards for each type of craft or activity. Birthdays, Christmas, Crochet, Hearts, Patriotic, Valentine's Day, etc. Say item #32 was that crocheted heart I mentioned above. On the index cards for Crochet, Hearts, Patriotic, and Valentine's Day I'd list #32. That way it could be filed in several categories all at once.

Conversely, if I wanted to make a heart, I could pull out the heart index card and find all projects that dealt with hearts listed by number, so easy to find. Oh, and to jog my memory, I typed up a master list, also in numerical order with a description of each item so I didn't have to dig through the actual files. Does that make sense?

I have a similar system for my mail log. All my correspondents are listed by name on individual index cards. The card contains name and address, email, and website info. Sometimes I include the person's birthday if I know it and a few notes about their hobbies or interests. Every time I receive an item from that person, the number of that item of mail gets written on his/her card.

As I open the day's mail, I assign the next numbers in sequence to each new item of mail. I also note the date it was received. Next I update each person's index card with the newly assigned numbers. As I answer back to each item, I list that on the envelope as well. If I want to locate all the items of mail Misty has sent me, I simply pull her index card and fish out the numbered items from the files.

Works for me. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to try to answer them.


  1. Thank you so much for posting this!! I almost did something similar but couldnt figure out a good system of keeping everything straight. Your method with the numbers makes so much sense that I wonder why it never crossed my mind!

  2. Love this! Thank you so much for sharing....I've been looking for a good system and this sounds great! How do you store the actual correspondence?

    I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.
    -- Mary Gardiner Brainard

  3. I just store it in plastic storage boxes without the lids on. They are about the size of big shoe boxes.

  4. I know what you're talking about...I have a couple of empty ones here at the house. =o)

    Thanks for sharing Patty!♥