The inspiration for this post comes from a client-who threw away a check for over a thousand dollars. Ee gads! I’m happy to say the check was found (phew!) but this scare led her to contact me. She wanted a system for her mail-to make sure nothing important was ever lost again. You can find yourself drowning in mail if you don’t have a way to keep up with it. I’ve read that the average person receives 41 pounds of junk mail a year. No thanks! Here are some tips to manage mail quickly and easily, so it won’t pile up on you and you won’t lose anything important ever again!
Manage Mail Quickly and Easily
Less Mail Coming In, Is Less Mail to Deal With
The real goal is to have less mail to deal with. There are several ways to do this:
- Put your name on the National Do Not Mail List. This is a one stop shop way to get your name off all direct mail lists.
- Use an app like Paper Karma to snap a photo of unwanted mail. Take a picture of the mailing label with your address and the sender’s address and the app unsubscribes for you.
- Just say no when a store asks if you want to be on their mailing list.
- Go paperless whenever possible. Pay bills online. If every American household paid bills online it could save 800,000 tons of solid waste in landfills every year. Mind boggling!
Create a Mail Station
Which door do you use to enter your home most often? Front door? Door from the garage? Wherever you enter your home, create a mail station nearby. Your mail station should include:
- A recycle bin (even if you have reduced incoming mail, there will still be items to recycle-even if it’s just the envelope to your birthday cards)
- A cross cut shredder (like this one that also cuts up CDs and credit cards)
- Your phone/planner/calendar-any piece of mail that has a date on it needs to go directly into your phone, planner or calendar. Then the original announcement goes in the recycle bin or trash.
- File folders to categorize mail (why not use pretty ones like these from William Morris?)
Categorize Your Mail
My hubby has his own set of file folders for his mail. He has “new mail” and an “action” folder. He knows each evening to check his these folders and take care of the contents.
I advise against having a “to file” folder. That would get huge in no time flat! With the proper filing system it isn’t hard to take five minutes and file your mail appropriately.
Another file folder you may want to have is “Nice Notes (2016).” I have a file folder for each year and I am very picky about what gets placed in this folder. If you’ve sent me a birthday card and just signed your name, sorry-that doesn’t make the cut. But when my mom mails me a three page letter about her life, that gets put in the nice notes file. At the end of the year it joins the files from previous years in the file cabinet in the office.
Perhaps each of your children need a file for “new mail.” My son is getting mail from colleges since he’s a junior this year. I have taught him to make a quick decision about whether or not to keep this kind of mail. He has a list of colleges he is interested in. If the school isn’t on his list, we don’t really need to keep their marketing material that gives us their web page.
So think about the types of mail, important mail, that is coming into your house and choose your file folders accordingly.
People usually get two types of coupons: store coupons and home-based coupons. When I receive a 10% off Home Decorators.Com that coupon is placed in a file in my mail center. I know if I use that coupon I will be sitting at my computer browsing their website. If I get coupons from Lowe’s grocery store or Bed, Bath & Beyond, they are placed in a file folder that stays in my car at all times. This way if I’m out an about and need to grab something from the store, I’ll have my coupons on hand. That means when I am at my mail station I take all the store coupons and go out to my car and file them.
When you’ve got this system up and running, going through your mail should only take 5-10 minutes. And that is why managing your mail is so important. At the end of a long day you want to greet your family, and if you’re like me-your fur babies 🙂 Maybe you’ve got to get dinner made. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time dealing with your mail. But if you don’t manage it, then you’ll be drowning in paper and may potentially throw away something important.The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time dealing with your mail. But if you don't manage it, then you'll be drowning in paper Click To Tweet
So take a bit of time to find a place to make a mail station. Promise yourself over the next few days you’ll deal with junk mail. You’ll be glad you did!
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