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How to Avoid Drowning in Junk Mail

by Patty Gardner mailbox

Some people love mail and some hate it.  Some check their mail box as soon as the mailman comes and some check it whenever they get around to it.  Of course, these days there’s not as much mail as there used to be.  But piles of mail can still be a problem unless you have a method to deal with it.

Here are two ideas for dealing with mail:

Option 1:

Process it daily, as soon as you take it out of the mailbox.  This is my preferred method.  What I mean by process is:

1.  Throw away junk mail;

2.  Put magazines on the coffee table to read later during couch time;

mail - bills

3.  Put bills in the bills to be paid slot on my desk;  

4.  Put unwanted credit applications on the shredder to be shredded later (usually when my granddaughter comes over – she LOVES shredding paper).

5.  Anything that needs to be acted on is noted in my planner and then put in the top tray on my desk.  I don’t necessarily do it right then but I put it in the appropriate place and note it in my planner so I won’t forget.

This whole process only takes a couple of minutes and then I never have to deal with a pile.

Option 2:

Pile it for processing later.  For this method, you retrieve the mail from the mailbox and quickly skim it to see if there’s anything urgent.  If there is, you deal with it right then.  If there isn’t, it all goes in a box designated for mail.  On a set day each week, you sit down and go through it all.

mail - stackablesOf course, besides the mail that comes in the mail box, there’s mail that comes in the in-box of your computer.  That mail can actually be handled in the same manner.  Process it daily or process it weekly.  Either way works.  But it’s a good idea to clean your inbox out regularly so you don’t miss anything and can easily retrieve information you might need.

These additional tips might help with inbox management:

1.  Flag items that are important so they stand out.

2.  Set up folders so you can move processed items into the appropriate folder and OUT of your inbox.

3.  NEVER move an item to a folder until it’s processed – either DONE or NOTED IN YOUR PLANNER.

4.  Respond to emails as quickly as possible.  Not only does that get them out of your in-box, but it also pleases people when we respond quickly.

5.  Delete everything you can.

mail - folders 2

6.  Don’t use your inbox as a holding center.  Only allow items in your inbox that are waiting to be processed.  If they’ve been processed, get them out of there!

7.  Set up a folder for THINGS TO SAVE or IMPORTANT.  There are some things I know I want to refer to again and I don’t want to take a chance they might get deleted.  So I put those items in my THINGS TO SAVE folder and I know they’ll be safe.

8.  Once in a while clean out your folders.  Most of the information you’ve saved you won’t need forever.  So occasionally go through and delete the folders you’re finished with.

How do you process mail – electronic and paper?

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