Don’t Just *Open* Your Mail

Does this happen to you? You get home from work and you’re looking forward to relaxing, having a nice dinner, maybe going out. But you really want to get that mail out of the way so it doesn’t pile up on the kitchen counter. So you stand there and open everything. You dutifully toss the junk mail into the recycling along with any other mail you know you’re not interested in.

But there are a few things that are important; a few bills, a flyer about an event you might want to go to, an insurance company question, etc. So you stack those pieces, feeling good that it’s a much smaller stack than it was, and dump it on your desk. For later. Maybe tomorrow night. Or Saturday. Now you can enjoy your evening!

Come Saturday, or a week from Saturday, you’re faced with a pile of mail on your desk that you should do something about. You’ll need to sort through it again and figure out what’s needed in each case. Then you have to do it! After 15 minutes, you’re sick of the mail and you go off to do your Saturday errands.

So there are a few problems here:

There are numerous ways to sort your mail: a container with vertical slots and stacking trays are two time honored tools. Julie Bonner has a very detailed description of setting up a mail center with a file crate and folders on her Declutter It! blog.

After you get rid of junk mail, sort the rest by what kind of action you need to take. Bills are one category, reading material is another, purchases or opportunities you want to consider is another, items that require a response from you is another, etc. The categories you choose will depend on what kind of mail you get.

There will be items you need to shred too. I recommend having your shredder in the spot where you sort mail and shredding as you go. Most shredders accommodate only a few sheets at a time, so if you let it pile up you’ll be standing there patiently (or not) feeding it for a loooong time.

Once the mail is sorted into logical categories, you can go off and enjoy your evening, knowing that when you do sit down to deal with the mail, you’ll know exactly what to do. In the next post, I’ll talk about that part. So get your station set up and then come back and read!