How to Organize Your Mail
The Daily Mail
Oh, the mail. How we love it. How we hate it. We love it when we get our paycheck, a nice letter, that acceptance letter to Harvard. We hate it when bills come due. We hate the junk mail. We hate the mess of it.
Here's how to deal with the daily mess of the mail.
Touch Each Piece of Unopened Mail Just Once
How do you deal with the disruption that is the daily mail? First, your goal should be to touch each letter once. Let's say that you usually plop the mail down on the dinner table. Then, at dinner time, it gets moved to the countertop. Later in the day, you may glance through the letters, tear one open and leave the rest on your desk to be opened later. This is NOT the way to deal with mail. This leads to disorganization, to unpaid bills, or unanswered requests. This is not a peaceful, organized house.
When you bring the mail into the house, set to it right away. Go to the same spot every day, preferably over the paper recycling and with your filing cabinet nearby. Open every letter, right then. Nothing gets set aside to be opened later.
- Ripped envelopes go directly into the recycling.
- Bills, with their return envelopes, are to be accumulated where they will be paid, whether it be in a box by the computer or a tray next to the checkbook.
- Statements, such as bank statements, 401K statements, privacy mailings from your bank, etc. should be filed immediately. Every institution that you deal with on a regular basis should have its own file, whether it be health insurance, insurance agents, or car repair center. Any statements, which don't need any particular action (such as a 401K report of your earnings and losses), should be read and filed right then. (See Filing Cabinets for more information.)
- Personal mail, such as invitations, birthday cards, etc., should be read and stored immediately. If it is an invitation to a child's birthday party, put it on the child's personal clipboard. If it is a birthday card for you, put it somewhere to be displayed and enjoyed for a few days or weeks, then recycle it. Find a permanent (or temporary-permanent) home for the personal item right away.
Be careful about recycling items which have your personal information on them. Often, credit card offers have a lot of information on them that you don't want circulated to the general public. These items should be placed in a file entitled "shred." Or save them for your next backyard bonfire.
Junk mail is a whole topic by itself. It can be a real problem. Not only is junk mail an environmental disaster, it can lead to lots of unneeded work for you, clogging up your mailbox and wasting your time. But junk mail can be controlled. You can handle it one of two ways.
- There are several online services which will rid you of junk mail for a small fee. Greendimes.com is a reputable agency which stops your junk mail and plants trees in your honor.
- You can do the work yourself. It will take a little time, but think of the time you will save by not having to open up another credit card offer or fishing lure catalog!
|Finding the phone number of junk mailers can often be the most difficult step. You may need to log on to the company's website and click on "contact us" to locate the phone number of some agencies.|
First of all, send a letter off to:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 15012-0643
Write your name and address on a piece of paper with the words "please activate mail preference service." This will stop up to 3/4 of your junk mail within a matter of months.
As for credit card applications, charity requests and catalogs? Call them and ask to be removed from their mailing list. It may take a while, because sometimes mailings are prepared months in advance, but they are required by law to remove your name. If you get a lot of catalogs, log onto Catalogchoice.org to opt out of the catalogs you do not want to receive.
Follow these steps and you'll see your junk mail slow to a trickle. In fact, there will be days when you get no mail at all. How simple is that?
Return to Organization.