The following are some resources that will help you keep your snail mail and email boxes more manageable:
TRY THIS SNAIL MAIL CHALLENGE FOR THREE FULL WEEKS:
1. Go through the mail immediately when you receive it.
2. Sort mail in 3 piles: REJECT, READ, RESPOND
3. REJECT the obvious junk and ads clutter.
4. READ these saved pieces during a TV commercial or in bed before lights out
5. RESPOND to important items within 24 hours.
The reward? A good, positive habit incorporated in your daily routine. And no more piles of unread mail! Win-Win!
Here's wishing you a clear road to a clutter-free life.
The Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. When you register with this service, your name will be put on a "delete" file and made available to direct-mail marketers and organizations. This will reduce most of your unsolicited mail. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA's Mail Preference Service. To register with DMA's Mail Preference Service, go to www.dmachoice.org, or mail your request with a $1 processing fee to:
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
This doesn't cover you for insurance and credit offers, however. For that, you'll need to go to www.OptOutPrescreen.com, a site run by the major credit bureaus. Here you can choose to opt-out of direct mail of his type for five years. If you want to make this permanent, you'll have to print out and snail mail the request. You can also reach the service by phone at 1-888-567-8688.
The DMA also has an Email Preference Service (eMPS) to help you reduce unsolicited commercial emails. To opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial email from DMA members, visit www.dmachoice.org. Registration is free and good for six years.
Sign up for the free TrustedID Mail Preference Service. This provides companies that you can seek the opt-out instructions for. For example, stop unsolicited credit checks. As it stands, credit card companies have permission to check your credit report to send you preapproved credit offers. As part of standard service, www.TrustedID.com will remove your name and information from solicitors’ lists so that you will no longer receive these offers and third parties will not have access to your private credit information. The service will also reduce other types of junk mail. Just click on their products page to learn about IDEssentials.
www.41pounds.org will for $35 stifle mail offers for 5 years.
#1. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's true: The advantage of implementing mail efficiently is well...actually dealing with it as soon as you get it.
As with anything else that weighs heavy in your life these days, let's adopt the Nike slogan: Just Do It! It's okay to take little steps in decluttering and organizing your life. And the daily mail is one of the simplest and easiest tasks to accomplish in the whole scheme of clutter management.
#2. Items needed to ready yourself for this exercise:
Letter opener, trash receptacle, Two file folders.
Use the letter opener to open all envelopes all at once. Liken it to an auto assembly line, resulting in assembling more finished cars in a shorter period of time. And so it is easier and more efficient to open all envelopes at the same time. Now you can put your letter opener away.
#3. For this task, we will redefine the "three R's": REJECT, READ, RESPOND.
REJECT: Toss pieces in your trash receptacle that are obvious unsolicited ads, or pieces of enveloped mail that aren't relevant for your current situation or life, i.e., home/life insurance offers, postal meter sales, professional services, etc.
READ: Place interesting mail in Folder #1, titling it "READ FILE". Take the piece out of its envelope and toss the envelope in the trash receptacle. Immediately disposing of the packaging means you don't have cluttered pieces sitting around, thus allowing you to move forward to the next step...putting it in a folder that consolidates your reading material. The reading task can be done during TV commercials, the last few minutes in bed before the lights are turned out, or at an assigned time, say 10-15 minutes, during your schedule.
Note: Magazines can be dealt with in the same manner, skimming the pages and tearing/cutting out those pages and articles you want to focus on during your reading periods. TOSS the rest of the magazine! (Just think of how much space you acquire when you throw even 4 or 5 magazines that have piled up...amazing!) Place these pages in the READ file. When finished reading, dispose of the page, or file in appropriate folder. To free up your hard copy files, scan the material and store it in your computer.
RESPOND: Place these items such as bills, RSVPs, Call to Action notices, etc., in the 2nd folder titled RESPOND. Items should be sent a response immediately or within 24 hours. Completing this task frees up your schedule for more enjoyable activities, instead of a cloud hanging over your head of things that need to be done. I suggest "within 24 hours" because some things may not need a response immediately, or you may need to think about the right response before making a decision.
With the READ and RESPOND actions, make note of your response on your print or digital calendar if it's an event, or use a tickler file if it's a bill you need to pay on or before a certain date. Again, if your reading material is just information that's of interest to you, file it appropriately in your filing system or toss it if the information gleaned is noted and it does not need to be filed for future reference. Remember though, the less you keep in your files, the easier it is to look for things that are really important.
We should add a last "R" task to this exercise: REWARD. Be sure to reward yourself in some small way for completing this activity. Keep up the momentum. Small steps to decluttering or organizing is a giant step towards living a more clutter-free and organized life.
#4. Now let's tackle our email boxes. Drowning in incoming email? We're all tempted to open our email first thing in the morning, and soon hours have passed and we haven't done a thing except sift through the email. Use these tips for getting in control of your email so you actually have time to work:
Don’t start your morning by opening your email inbox. Complete some tasks from your To Do List first. Accomplish at least one of your day’s goals before you peek into your inbox.
Don't check your email so often. It's distracting and costly when you scour your inbox every few minutes while you should be focused on your work. Give yourself a challenge and see if you can limit checking email at lunch time and after hours. Trust me, you will get more work done. If you're an employee, your employer will think you highly productive, and might even thank you with a bonus (or lunch). If you are self-employed and work from home, reduce perusing your inbox to every couple of hours. If messages were that important, the sender would call you for an immediate response.
Set up the same procedures as dealing with your snail mail. Reduce your inbox queue by deleting extraneous mail. Your queue will look less cluttered and not so overwhelming. Set up a READ file in your list of folders and send reading material to that folder, even broken into subcategories if need be, and read at your leisure. Set up a RESPOND file for the same reasons as dealing with your snail mail. Set up a PHOTO file if you receive photos via email that you want to keep.
#5. UNSUBSCRIBE to printed magazines, or to email offers and subscriptions you no longer have interest in receiving, or ones that you feel you have no time to read.
Go electronic. Subscribing to print magazines subject your name and address to third party mailing lists. To stop junk mail from coming with your snail mail bills, switch to electronic billing.
Instead of sending a credit card offer back into the mail system, write or call the company and ask that they delete you from their mailing lists to receive offers or promotions (your pocket book and your credit rating will thank you!).
www.catalogchoice.org: It's a free membership. Just enter the catalogs you wish to be deleted from mailing lists. You can even donate to their The Story of Stuff Project to keep this worthwhile, not-for-profit organization going.
5 Simple Steps
to Nail your Mail
(no, not THAT male...
It's Clutter Chaos!
My 5 Steps to Nail Your Mail
Ugh! Let's face it, going through the timely disposition of snail mail and email is a challenge most of us face. But making a habit of going through the daily mail will save you LOADS of money in penalties, potential lost deals, and important event notices you can plan for or prioritize in your life.
The result? Liberation! It not only frees up your space, but frees up your head. It's like checking off another thing on the To Do List, having a feeling of accomplishment, and not wasting any part of your day.
When I see the postman drop anything into the mailbox, I normally yell "INCOMING!" (Sorry, left over from viewing TV's "M.A.S.H." while growing up.) It's a challenge for everyone to get their dose of daily mail and dealing with it right off the bat. Today's bunch is usually filled with unsolicited advertising and even things that don't pertain to our situation. Still, it's part of our life and as with anything in it, we have to prioritize our daily tasks.
More likely than not, you're part of the new age of technology that converts our computers to windows to the electronic global community. Hence, we tend to spend more time viewing our email more than we view the "snail mail" that bombards us everyday.
What to do. Let me address this task in an elementary tone as I don't know where you're at in the organizing phase of your life, or if you even have a system planned or in place. So let me introduce you to my guide to dealing with mail swiftly and efficiently.
Let's approach snail mail first as it manifests itself in the bulky, tactile objects that turn into clutter real fast if we don't deal with it right away.
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