As I sat here thinking about what I wanted to or should write about, I could have bonked myself over the head… One of the first things I almost always talk about with my clients is what do they do with their mail. For some reason most people have major issues with mail. They do not like to open it, it ends up all over the place, things get forgotten, etc. Today, I am going to share some of my favorite tips for helping create a mail center and manage the beast that is the mail.
The Mail Beast
There are a few different ways to having a successful mail center:
- Minimize the amount of mail you receive.
- This starts with transitioning your bills and other items to paperless. You can even get most major newspapers delivered electronically these days. I highly encourage you do this with as many accounts as possible – all of it is available online, why not save some trees.
- If you really enjoy getting to see the physical bill to check to make sure everything is in order, we highly encourage once you have used it for its purpose – let it go. Unless it is not stored online somewhere or you absolutely need the hard copy for your taxes or something – shred it and move on.
- For junk mail check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website with all sorts of fabulous information on how to opt out of a bunch of things from credit card offers to phone calls.
- Have a set place to collect the mail. This is vitally important especially if multiple people are bringing in the mail.
- If you are good at sorting or looking through the mail, perhaps all you need is one basket, I encourage getting something with about three separate vertical areas for sorting (horizontal storage is where we all get in trouble).
- OPEN and eliminate immediately.
- ALL mail should be opened immediately — discard as many outer envelopes as possible.
- I encourage everyone to have a shred and recycle or trash bin as close as possible to the entry way where you bring in the mail or the drop zone for the mail.
- Before it goes into your basket or sorter you must “file” the trash mail in the shredder or recycle pile.
- Sort by importance and/or urgency.
- This one will really depend on your habits and how you are currently handling the mail and how you react to things. This is also why I suggest three areas for separation. Consider sorting the mail by the following category:
- Important (make sure you have a list of general things that are considered to be in this category)
- Urgent (set time frames for response or actions needed – is it within a month or a week for you — how much notice do you need to handle things appropriately)
- Everything else (be careful to not let too much junk mail get into this pile –> this means any one handling mail should have a good idea of what mail can be tossed immediately)
- Consider other options like — needs action, to be filed, general information,
- If your family uses coupons a lot consider having a place where those are always kept together so any coupons that come in can immediately be put in that special place.
- Fun extras.
- We encourage the mail center can also coincide with your command central, we will post about this in a few weeks.
- You would be surprised at how helpful it is to have some basic general office supplies in your mail center.
- It is great to keep pens and sticky notes in this area in case there are specific instructions, added notes, or questions about a given item. Also, if you need to return something to sender, or let the mailman know he got the wrong address.
- Scissors, tape, and/or paperclips/stapler are also wonderful to have on hand for things like holding onto a return address label without keeping the whole envelope (remember we are trying to get rid of the envelopes!), attach multiple copies of the same bill, or sort the mail into smaller subcategories.
These types are just a few of the general and basics tips we help most of our clients institute so that they can create a better flow, stop paying bills late, and start living a life of avoiding the mail. If you found this helpful we would so love for you to comment below. Let us know what you are going to try, what is working for you, or what areas you may need a little extra assistance with.