A relentless antagonist. An endless swarm infiltrating your home. You tame it as best you can, but you know it’s just one pause away from triggering chaos in your life.
It turns out this enemy is mail. Maybe my description is a little overly dramatic. But for some people, it’s a real source of stress. Not the contents, but the management of it. And since a lot of your financial correspondence still comes via paper mail, your finances can suffer because of poor mail management.
So what is the solution?
Sort Mail as soon as it arrives?
If you do this great, but this article is not written for you. It’s for those of us getting the mail on the way into our home, after work or errands. Your hands are full of groceries, purses/satchels, empty coffee mugs, children. Once you walk in the door, your children/pets/significant other demand your attention. “Sorry sweeties, you’ve got to wait while I drop everything and sort the damn mail before I attend to you,” said the lonely few.
If “sorting mail as soon as it arrives” is the primary tactic for controlling the mail monster, no wonder we make a poor showing.
When you get the mail, put it in a basket or tray or the exact same spot on the counter every day. Just drop it. Walk away for the time being and move to more urgent tasks.
Then, pick a convenient time to go through the mail. Make sure there’s a trash/recycle bin handy because there will be a lot of that.
Pick out the mail items that need you to do something – like bills to pay. Put them where you normally pay the bills.
Pick out the mail items that you want to keep but don’t require you to do anything besides file them – like financial statements. Put them where you put the other papers that need to be filed.
How often should you sort the mail? Everyday? Maybe. Do you get a lot of mail? Maybe once a week is ok. Twice a week?
Don’t let it pile up so much that it becomes a huge chore. But also, don’t feel like you have to sort it obsessively every day.
Mail is a relentless monster that you must tame, or else it will figuratively smother you. But also, try not to obsess over it.
P.S. Some of these principles can be applied to electronic mail or “e-mails” too! You know, if you get a lot of those.