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Mail, Mail, Go Away! Easy Ways to Tame Your Mail Piles

By Carmen Coker

letter_traysAs you may or may not know, I'm a contributor to FranklinCovey's Get Organized Community, along with the likes of Dr. Stephen Covey (think: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). As a contributor, I recently answered a question about MAIL, and it's so applicable to so many people, I thought it might benefit YOU.

>>>>>> Question <<<<<<

Do you ever have those days when you barely have enough time to get your mail, much less sort through it? I do, and I've been having more and more of these types of days, which means my mail pile gets huge. By the time I have to do my bills, I spend about 3 hours just sorting the pile to find the bill statements!

I am also concerned about ID theft. Before recycling, I want to destroy those items that I know are junk but have my name on them. So, I can't just stick junk mail in the recycling bin.

Help! Do you have any ideas to help me control my mail pile?

Thanks! BB

>>>>>> Answer <<<<<<

Hi BB,

This is a VERY common problem! In fact, on average, Americans receive 50,000 pieces of mail in their lifetime. So it’s not surprising that mail takes over so many desks, kitchen counters, and coffee tables.

But I have good news for you! I do have some ideas for dealing with the loads of mail that inundate us on a daily basis, and I think you will be very happy with the outcome.

I suggest that you…

• If at all possible, try to stop the mail before it gets to you. There are services that will help you eliminate unwanted junk mail. Simply do a Google search for “get rid of junk mail” to find a service that fits your needs.

• Buy three small containers or Letter Trays: 1x for shred, 1x for recycle, and 1x for an inbox. Label each accordingly and situate them in an out-of-the way but easy-to-access location.

• Pick one day a week to consistently be your “mail” day. I suggest that this be Friday, simply because you wrap up the week organized and are ready to start with a fresh slate on Monday.

• Pick one day a month as your “shred” and “recycle” day. (If you receive lots and lots of mail, then you might need to do this twice a month.)

• When you get your mail throughout the week, look through the envelopes quickly as you’re walking from your mailbox to your inbox. If there is anything absolutely urgent, then open immediately. Otherwise, place everything as-is (in the sealed envelopes) in your inbox.

• On Friday, spend 15-20 minutes opening all the envelopes that have collected in your inbox throughout the week. If something needs shredding, then place it in the shred container. If something needs recycling, then place it in the recycle container. If something needs filing, then file it immediately. If something needs attention, like a phone call or payment, follow through right away.

• Follow up with shredding and recycling on your appointed days.

Initially, when you still have a mangle of papers, you will have to invest more than 15-20 minutes to get everything sorted. But once you have your system, it’s all as easy as 1-2-3!


Carmen Coker is a professional organizer who helps individuals find the motivation and know-how to get organized and stay organized. To learn how to save money, create more space, and manage your time through organization, claim your "FREE Tip Kit: 10+ Pages of Tips and Tools to Help You Get Organized — Finally!" at www.OrganizeClutterbugs.com

Posted March 30, 2011, filed in How I de-cluttered, Clutter Control Products, Clutter Hacks

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One comment

From Anne @ double curtain rods, April 5 2011

Hi! Your post is really a big help to moms like me. I'm also guilty of piled up mails, so hard to segregate and sort. With your 3 layered container or tray suggestion, sorting will be a breeze. Thanks a lot!

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