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Unfiltered Truth: The Agony of Dealing with Mail

Updated: Jan 4

While it may seem like almost everything we do is digital these days, we still have snail mail to sort through. Most of it is probably junk mail, but there is still that 1-5% that is important.  

If you’re reading this, you might have piles of unopened mail lingering in your home or office. To prevent unopened mail from piling up and to stop missing deadlines or important notices, follow these steps.

Set-up a Mail Processing Station

Desktop organizer on desk

Keep mail-related tools and supplies in one convenient location

Create a dedicated area for processing mail. If you don’t already have a mail processing station in place, download my Mail Processing Station Quickstart.

It’s essential to place your mail processing station in a practical location. Think about what you currently do when you bring your mail into the house. Do you set it down on the kitchen counter? Do you drop it on an entryway table? Most people plop their mail on the first available horizontal surface they see.

Ask yourself where your mail plop stop is and place your mail processing station there. 

Open Mail Right Away

Make a commitment to open mail right away. As soon as it comes in the door, take it to the mail processing station and take care of it.  There’s no logical reason to delay opening it.  Most clutter is the result of procrastination where a decision to take action has been delayed so many times over that it morphs into a heap of clutter that can feel overwhelming. Remember: It’s easier to keep up than it is to catch up.

If mail is a source of clutter in your life, make the commitment to process it immediately. To do this, follow the simple steps I’ve outlined below.

Start with a “Short Sort”

Before you do anything else, simply separate the apparent junk mail from the mail you need to open or want to look at.

Then, systematically open ALL the envelopes with your letter opener at once and remove the contents – recycle the empty envelopes.  Now you can review each item. 

Separate Out Action Items

Create a ‘To Do’ and a ‘To File’ folder

As you’re reviewing your mail, separate action items from additional junk or ‘FYI’ mail.  Place your ‘To Do’ items on your desk near your computer or close to where you get things done. 

For magazines, catalogs, newsletters, and other reading materials, separate this type of mail from the important to-do items and place them near the sofa, kitchen table, or another area where you do your relaxing.

If you come across items that you need to retain for your records, set up a ‘To File’ folder. When this folder gets full, file your documents away or scan them into your digital filing cabinet if you have an almost paperless office.

Shred documents if they contain sensitive information. If you don’t have a shredder and don’t want to purchase one, get a security stamp or create a “To Shred” bin that you can collect documents in and drop off at a shredding center or take to the next community shredding event.

A note on junk mail

Ecocycle has a post dedicated to reducing junk mail if you want to remove yourself from direct mailer lists.

Keep in mind that while you may jump through all the hoops to remove yourself from these lists, it’s not a permanent solution. You will be added to lists again at some point in the future.

Every time you change your address, fill out a product warranty card, buy a house or car, participate in sweepstakes… your information will be back on another list.  Before you decide to spend the time unrolling from direct mail lists, I would suggest developing a laser fast mail processing technique and consider checking your mail more frequently. This is probably a better use of your time. 

This is just some of the value you can get when partnering with™. If you’d like more tips, advice or suggestions on how to be more productive and organized, book a 20-minute productivity assessment.


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