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The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Eliminate Your Junk Mail And Gain 70 Extra Hours A Year!

This article by Sherry Borsheim, a Paper Tiger Expert of International Association of Business Organizing (IABO), gives us a way to create a system for dealing with the mail and all the paper we receive everyday!  How much does your stuff or clutter cost you?  Check out Sherry’s Organizing Bootcamps which will give you a JUMP-START on ORGANIZING your office, home and life. She will give you her trade secrets and steps to setting up your organizing systems, including recommending Paper Tiger filing system software for document management, to be organized and manage the information and stuff in your life.

Conquer Your Chaos

How much time do you think you waste shuffling junk mail and flyers around your home or office?  How often do you pick up your mail and put it aside for later?  But later never comes.  Before you know it last month’s mail is still piled on the kitchen counter and the In Tray on your desk is growing by the minute.

Let’s be honest here, opening the mail is not exactly high on our priority list unless it’s a cheque, gift or personal card from someone.  After a long day at work or chauffeuring the kids to all their after-school activities, the last thing you want to do is open the mail.  I don’t know about you, but I can think of more exciting things to do.  Like put my feet up and rest for 15 minutes!

More and more people are going paperless when it comes to bank statements and bill paying.  Magazines are now available on iPads, but I still prefer my glossy magazine.  For many businesses, paper is still around and receipts need to be accounted for.  The paperless office is yet to come.  And I see more paper in homes and offices than ever before as the volume of emails increase.

More and more people are making the effort to go paperless because it’s easier to manage; it reduces clutter in the home and helps the environment.  According to 41Pounds.org:

  • The average American receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year and 40% goes to the landfill unopened
  • On average, we receive 16 pieces of junk mail a week, compared to only 1.5 personal letters
  • You waste approximately 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail, and
  • 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk each year

What would you like to do with the extra 70 hours a year I just found for you by eliminating your junk mail?  Now there’s a hidden time-waster that I hadn’t thought of before!  And no more excuses that I don’t have time to work out.

Here are some resources to help you eliminate  junk mail

In Canada:

In USA:

So what’s the best solution for dealing with the daily mail that comes through your front door?  The answer is to set up a simple system and create a habit that you and everyone in your household follow.  A system is only as good as the end user!  Or you can delegate picking up the mail, opening it, filing it or putting in your Action folder.

Create a system for dealing with your mail

Here’s the process for dealing with the mail before it piles up and takes over your counters:

  1. Recycle all junk mail immediately…do not let this sit around on your desk or in your home.  Be RUTHLESS!
  2. Shred any junk mail that has your name on it and you don’t have to open it
  3. Decide where the most convenient place is to drop your mail until you have time to deal with it.
  4. Open the mail immediately or contain it in a tray or a container that you love, looks beautiful and fit on the shelf or counter.  Keep a letter opener handy to quickly open the mail.
  5. Never let the pile of mail outgrow the allotted space.  If you do, you may cause undue stress because you have no idea what’s lurking in the unopened mail.  Late fees and penalties add up and stress takes its toll on your health
  6. As a “rule of thumb” open your mail when it comes in and deal with it right away
  7. Designate a place to file your papers with a shredder and recycling bin close by (you’d be amazed at how many offices I go into and there’s no garbage or recycling bin close by or a shredder, yet the piles to be shredded and recycled are thick with dust all over the office)
  8. File mail in your “Bills to Pay” folder, “Discuss” folder, “Read” folder or file it
  9. When you or someone in your household needs to pay the bills, the bills are at your fingertips
  10. Once the bills have been paid, file in your “Paid Bills” file in a file drawer or other system that you may have

Hidden Costs

There are hidden costs, like stress and anxiety which weigh heavy on you if there is clutter and piles of paper, unopened mail, junk mail, flyers and old magazines lying around for long periods of time.  And piles of paper become dust collectors which lead to an unhealthy disorganized environment.

Rethink Your Subscriptions

Re-evaluate or cancel subscriptions to journals and magazines that you don’t have time to read or rarely refer to and you will dramatically reduce the paper coming into your home.  Look at new options to receive your newspaper subscription, like on the iPad which has a larger viewing screen than a cell phone.

My Paperless Journey

In the past three years, I’ve made a huge effort to eliminate paper in my office and in our home.  For years I’ve contained magazines to one small magazine rack and when it is full, I recycle or give to a charity or hospital.  Every 3 months, I purge bags of paper that I thought I needed 6 months earlier. I’ve asked my bank to only mail my business bank statements, and my business invoicing is all electronic.  More and more my business processes are becoming paperless and more online.  My goal is to have as little paper as possible so I’m mobile to travel and work anywhere.  Overall, having an impact on the environment.

Now it’s Your Turn to Make a Difference

What are you doing to reduce paper in your home or office? Do you have any other resources or tips for dealing with your mail? Leave your comment below or on Sherry’s original blog at http://www.bizorganizing.com/2012/02/eliminate-your-junk-mail-and-gain-70-extra-hours-a-year/!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sherry Borsheim is the president of International Association of Business Organizing and Simply Productive. You can visit Sherry, access her free article archive and grab lots of free stuff at http://www.BizOrganizing.com. Sherry lives in Vancouver, BC Canada with her husband (her high-school sweetheart).

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