In my seminars, I’m often asked what can a family do to 1) stem the tide of junk mail that invades their home, and 2) how to best manage the mail and incoming paperwork that’s important.
Turn the tide to a trickle. There are two great ways to eliminate needless mail handling.
1. Opt out. Just visit the FTC website for opting out of credit card offers, junk mail, phone calls and other irritants. All the links you need are in one place.
2. Pay bills electronically. All businesses, utilities and credit cards allow you to opt out of getting paper bills and notices. With today’s encryption schemes, you can trust electronic payments.
Curtail paperwork confusion. With the right approach, paperwork can be a problem of the past.
1. Open all your mail in one place – near a trash can! Opening and eliminating are combined into one simple step.
2. Sort your mail into baskets, trays or a tickler file. Correctly sorting mail is as important at home as it is in the office. Label each container based on the action you need to take: Do Now (today), Do Later (this week), Read, Pay, File, or Distribute or whatever tasks your situation requires.
3. Keep your Inbox separate from your Do Now box or other containers. The Inbox is for mail or paperwork you have not yet handled or opened.
4. Highlight the date, originator and subject of the paper on every piece of paper that enters your home. Later, when you pick up the item, you will instantly remember why you saved it.
5. Use a tickler system for time sensitive paperwork, like the one I describe in my post, A Foolproof Tickler System.
The bottom line. If you stop the plague of mail and paperwork at its source — pay bills electronically and distribute your legitimate mail to time and task appropriate baskets, trays and folders — you’ll make your life at home and work a little bit easier and a lot more enjoyable.