Paper Cut: Managing Mail

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I was discussing the state of the US postal system with a friend the other day and that made me wonder… how could the post office need money with the amount of mail I receive every day?I don’t remember the last scheduled day that I did not receive mail. I am sure there is much that I don’t understand about it.Nevertheless, I get more mail now than I have ever received before.

So how do you manage it all?I admit there was a time I was not very good at it.Late fees, missed deadlines, and a $75 gift card to Lowe’s that I still have not found made me develop different habits.I have included a list of tips for managing mail below.Perhaps you have already found your inner “mailroom guy”.If not, consider the following and make some changes that will help you live a more productive, profitable life.

Tips:

1.Review the mail daily. If you don’t have time when you come through the door, place it in a central location that is obvious.The kitchen seems to be a favorite for most.Make it somewhere that will feel uncomfortable if it stays cluttered.Make sure it is done before you go to bed.

2.Immediately put junk mail and flyers in the recycling.If there is anything personally identifiable (beyond your address) about the mail put it in a shred basket.I often save my shred for one day a week, but you could do it everyday if you like using the shredder.It can be therapeutic.

3.Separate the remaining “good” mail by category.Mine usually goes something like bills, to do, personal letters or card/invitations, shred, recycle.

4.Bills should be filed in an accordion file or file box by due date or date you intend to pay them.Be sure to give yourself enough time to avoid late fees (this could be a completely separate post).

5.Use online banking.If you are even the tiniest bit uncomfortable with this, ask your banker.I have used it for over 10 years now and I have NEVER had any problem with identity theft.If your banker can’t answer your questions about online banking, get another banker.It’s your money!

6.Online banking means I only save the payment coupons for my records.The rest of the bill gets recycled or shredded if it contains personally identifiable information.

7.Financial statements should be filed with the system of your choice.If you are keeping paper copies, find a central place to store them.Most financial services offer paperless statements.You can allow them to store the information for you or save it to a back up file yourself.

8.Greeting cards and invitations should be doled out accordingly.Here, everyone has their own inbox.If they are RSVP, do so right away.Mark any dates on your calendar and then discard the invitation.

9.Anything else that requires action should be put on the calendar and filed if necessary.I must admit that things that don’t require immediate action usually end up in a TO DO basket until the end of the week at our house.

10.Put magazines and catalogs in a bin or basket located in a common reading area.Once you have perused them remove articles, pictures, or recipes that you want to keep and recycle the rest.

More to consider…

1.Throw stuff out!Stop holding onto restaurant coupons from the "mailer pak" if you know that you will not likely go.

2.Get a good shredder. We have a hamster named Clyde. He gets first dibs at the shred. The rest goes out to the compost bin.

3.Get a letter opener.

4.Get a recycle bin if you don’t already have one.

5.Don’t be ruled by junk mail.Don’t allow it to stay in your home.

Try some of these ideas and let me know if you have other tricks that would be helpful to other readers.I look forward to reading your comments.

savour… control