Handling Mail Efficiently
Everyday we go to our mailboxes and get a handful of everything from bills to junk mail...you know, those postcard-sized advertisements to larger, bulkier, stuffed-in ads. Most of us are guilty of handling our mail haphazardly.
You open it first, or course, but the key to handling mail efficiently is to only handle it once whenever possible!! If you have a well-defined distribution system, it's easier to know right where each piece of mail goes, thus, cutting down on time spent shuffling papers and handling mail later.
When you first open a bill that does not require immediate attention, put it in the "Action" file for pending bills. In terms of handling mail efficiently, it is important to get into the habit of always opening your bills as soon as they come in It is very possible to find errors that need immediate attention or you may find that perhaps someone else has used your credit card.
In regards to magazines, immediately place them in their designated location. If you don't have a designated location, why not take a moment now and choose one.
Newsletters from churches, schools, the workplace, clubs, etc. need to be handled by eliminating or filing them as soon as possible. If they include important dated meetings and commitments you'll need to attend, simply write them down on a calendar.
Be sure to include details of who, when, and where, things you may need to take with you, and directions if needed. Then toss out these papers if you no longer need them. If you need to hang on to them, put them in your "Pending" box (a kind of wait-and-see file) until the uncertainty has past.
Naturally there will always be junk mail and you should immediately toss these pieces in the trash without hesitation! Why let them linger and take up space? Junk mail includes flyers, local merchant ads, coupons, etc. Anything that doesn't interest you at all, won't need, or can easily be replaced, get rid of it immediately so you won't have to touch it or see it again.
In this day and age of identity theft, it's very important when handling mail efficiently to shred credit card offers and other personally-identifying items.
What should you do with the mail that is addressed to someone in your home other than yourself? Should you leave it on the stereo or side table? Each individual should be made aware of where their personal mail will be placed. They may prefer to have it placed on their bed or desk, or you may wish to purchase "in" boxes for each family member.
The biggest dilemma is deciding how to handle mail that pertains to all family members or several individuals. This is usually the nagging, unsightly clutter that remains on the table or counter for days until someone finally takes control and gets everyone to admit to having seen it. This often requires a more sophisticated form of communication. Some ideas for this are outlined below.
One idea could include taking care of such business at breakfast or dinner times, or possibly even a more formal family meeting.
Another interesting idea is to use written notation to advance the paper race. As each interested person finishes reading a letter, magazine, or newsletter, a simple notation is made in the corner, "finished by Joe" and then is passed on to the next person.
Also, if the workplace use memos to save time and reinforce messages, why not use this mode of communication at home? "Sticky" notes are fun and effective. Examples are: "John, you may find this article important", or, "I can't go to this meeting at church, can you go for me?" Be sure to initial and date these notes. Papers from school, work, and church seem to keep recirculating because no one know for certain if the other has had the chance to read it, and that's why these sticky notes come in handy and prevent recirculation problems.
Another technique of handling mail is to use a bulletin board or the refrigerator for pending items and immediate reminders. The kitchen often seems to be a favorite spot. If it works for you, use it!
You can see that handling the mail is more than just bringing it inside from the mailbox. It involves dealing with a wide range of information, from junk to important legal documents. Therefore, it is most helpful to set up a simple procedure for sorting, delivering, and taking important action.
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