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Organizing tips for managing the mail

Getting a handle on the mail
Getting a handle on the mail
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Trying to keep up with the mail can be a never ending task. Even with going paperless, paying bills online and printing less, most residents still receive a pile of mail on a daily basis, so they will still have some form of paper to sort and make decisions on. Then, procrastination sets in when the mail does not require immediate action. Examples may include, bank statements, paid bills, general information and advertisements. Plus, as soon as you’ve managed to clear one pile, in comes another.

If you have a backlog of mail and don't know where to begin, here are a few tips:

1. Even before opening the envelope, you can usually tell if it is important or not. If you can make a quick decision to recycle, file or place in a to-do pile for action later, do it right away. This may mean having 2 or 3 baskets for quick sorting where you handle the mail.

2. Instead of keeping every magazine because there's an article you want to read or keep, scan the magazine and clip the articles that you're interested in keeping. Keep the clipped articles in a folder or binder, then, recycle the rest of the magazine.

3. If you subscribe to a lot of magazines, but don't want to recycle them because it seems like a waste, check with your local preschool, doctor’s office or women’s shelter to see if they would be interested in taking them off your hands.

4. Do you have too much junk mail? Sacrifice a few minutes of TV time to get your name off all mailing lists by contacting the companies directly or writing to the Direct Marketing Association. A full list of companies to get your name off lists can be found on this page: Stop Junk Mail.

5. If you like to shop by mail, or online, you probably receive way too many mail order catalogs. What's worse is that catalog companies have a habit of sharing your name with other similar companies, so you'll end up receiving a bunch of catalogs that you hadn't even requested. Catalog Choice is a website that will help you to stop receiving catalogs and other mail that you don't need, but you can also call the companies directly to ask them to take your name off their lists, including the companies that have online websites. You can have them send you emails when they have special offers, so that you're no longer receiving anything in the mail, but be selective because you can get just as overwhelmed with emails as you can with physical mail!

At the end of the day, the less mail you receive the easier it will be to stay on top of it, so whatever you can do to eliminate the mail that you don't need, the less sorting and organizing you will have to do on a daily basis.

Baltimore Organized Families writer, Jacquie Ross has been writing for The Examiner since 2009. Check out her other articles related to decluttering, organization and time management. Jacquie, a professional organizer, also shares organizing tips in her ebook for busy moms, A Busy Mom's Guide to a More Organized Life, and her e-newsletter. Subscribers are eligible to receive her free email declutter tips mini-course when they sign up for her newsletter.