At one time or another, everyone must somehow gain control of incoming mail. Mail…it can easily become a “monster” of sorts because it comes almost every day and mostly with things that we did not even request! Left ignored it grows and grows until it’s totally out of control and it seems to gobble up every inch of free space in our homes but I am going to help you become a mail warrior…win this crusade and become T-A-M-E-R of the MAIL MONSTER!
So here is what you can do to prepare for battle…
MAKE A TIME COMMITMENT
Just 5 minutes every day and try to make it the same 5 minutes every day. I like to do it right when I get the mail.
CREATE A MAIL ZONE
This is where you will process the mail every day. It can be an area in your kitchen, your home office, a closet with shelves, a bookcase in a foyer or entry way, even the back of a door. Anywhere there is space available to set up receptacles or containers that can receive sorted mail. From now on I will refer to these receptacles as “CAGES” . The key here is to locate your mail zone or cages so that you are not traveling back and forth from one room to the next .
REMEMBER TO JUST SORT… DON’T TAKE ACTION NOW (unless it will takes a quick 2 minutes or less)
Okay now it’s time to become T-A-M-E-R of this Mail Monster…Sort into the following categories…
First step is to instantly go through and discard any ads, promotions, and catalogs that you do not want into the “RECYCLE CAGE“. Credit card offers or anything that may have personal information go into the “TO BE SHREDDED…CAGE“. Ask yourself…can I find this info online? Will I be receiving another in 2 weeks? Be ruthless…saving paper requires energy and space. Make sure whatever you save deserves both! You can also take control by opting out of junk mail for 5 years by going to www.optoutprescreen.com or calling 1-888-5-opt-out. These resources are offered through the Federal Trade Commission.
A…ACTION ITEMS (take 2 minutes or more)
Okay so you get an invitation that you must respond or your child brings home something that has to be signed. If it you can do it under 2 minutes DO IT NOW. If not…Place it in the “NEEDS ACTION CAGE“ or if you are a visual person these are the kind of things that go on a tack surface. Remember to set aside time on a regular basis to do your action items.
M…MONEY…(Bills to Pay or Income)
This is very important category because there are consquences for misplacing these. For bills, throw out any promo inserts and put into “BILLS TO PAY CAGE”. Establish your 2 Bill Paying days of the month. Maybe it’s the 15th and the 30th. Maybe it coordinates with your pay days.
E…EXPIRING ITEMS (Short term save or Pit Stop items)
These are the items that you want to save but they have a shelf life. You might want to set up separate envelopes or cages for subcategories of this group. For example…COUPON CAGE, CATALOG CAGE, SCHOOL REMINDER CAGE, INVITATIONS CAGE etc. Remember this is only a short term save so every couple of weeks you want to toss anything that is outdated.
R…REFERENCE (To be filed)
These are items that you need for future reference. Things like your insurance policies, medical records, and warranties. This is the ONLY category that I DO NOT suggest setting up a receptacle…Papers in a TO BE FILED category seem to grow roots…so just file it with its friends NOW. This is assuming you have already set up a receptacle for this type of papers. If you cannot file now …throw it into the Needs Action Cage and file it later.
A word about CAGES (or containers and receptacles)
When taming the mail monster, it’s important to have cages or containers already set up for you to quickly sort. The type of container you use depends on the type of space you have and your personal preferences. Obvious ones are baskets, boxes, envelopes and file folders but if you have more vertical space you might want to consider plastic stacking drawers, upright boxes or even something mounted to the wall. Be creative…maybe use a hanging shoe or clothing organizer in a closet. Also don’t forget to label your containers to demonstrate an added burst of power and control! As long as the cages are easily accessible and adequately sized YOU will conquer this Mail Monster and be Master of your Postal Papers.