Mail handling, is that a hassle for you?

How to handle your mail efficiently

Remember the one-touch rule for emails? I indicated in that same post that it is useful for regular mail too.  Today, I will expand into the idea of a one-touch rule for mail handling. Before going into that, let me show you some fun facts.

Mail Fun Facts

  • In 2019 the USPS delivered 142.6 B pieces of mail, 75.7 B of them were marketing.
  • On average, Americans receive 605 emails and 16.8 pieces of mail every week.
  • 58% of the mail American households receive is marketing mail, this is about 454 pieces per year.
  • Periodical mail volume received and sent in the United States in 2019 was 4.2 B pieces.
  • Per USPS, 98% of people check their mail daily and Americans spend upwards of 30 minutes with their mail on a single occasion.

What types of mail do you receive most of the time?

Regardless you pick-up your mail daily or once a week, you need to create a process to handle it. Before you start to design it, learn what type of mail you receive.  Common categories for receiving mail are bills, invoices, letters, promotions, magazines, bank statements, and health insurance.  Do you need to file any of the documents you receive?  Anything that you would set aside to read later?

Create your mail handling system

For efficient mail handling, it is better to have a mail sorting and handling area.  In this area, you would need a desk or small table, a shredder, a trash can, and maybe a filing system.  Also, if you pick-up your mail daily but are going to manage it weekly, you would need a temporary storage area for it.     

The ideal situation is to touch your mail only once.  That is to say, that, if you pick-up your mail every day, you should handle it daily as well.  However, some of us do not have time to do this task daily.  If that is your case, it is ok to do it weekly, but you need to create the habit to do so.  For weekly sorting, you need an area to store the mail until that day.  For example, you can use letter trays or a wall mount letter holder.  

There are documents you need to keep. Therefore, you are going to need a cabinet. However, if you don’t have that many, you can use a binder.  For different categories, like pet’s vaccines records, house or auto, you can have one binder with divisions or multiple binders.  For more than one, you can organize them in a magazine holder or a kitchen baking sheet organizer.

If you have doubts regarding what you should file, this document from the Student Money Management Center of the University of Nebraska Lincoln contains a useful list of things to keep.

Schedule your mail handling time

One more step to design your system is to schedule when you are going to handle your mail.  For example, depending on your schedule, maybe a Saturday afternoon or Sunday evening would be ideal.  After deciding the day, estimate how much time you will need for this task.  You can start with one hour, and later you can adjust as needed.  

Schedule this task on your calendar to help you make the habit.  You can use a reminder for one hour or so before the time.  A reminder helps you to organize your time and set your mind on the upcoming task ahead.

How to sort your mail

First, read or browse each piece to decide what to do with it.  For example, you can determine to pay, call, or clarify information, put aside to read later, archive, destroy, or trash.  Second, act upon your decision to trash or destroy.  Keep a small trash can and shredder machine in the same area so you can dispose of everything that you won’t need right away.  For security reasons, you should use a shredder to destroy any document that contains personal

For other actions, you can create little piles with documents for reading, pay, and others.  Therefore, you are focus on the sorting task before moving on to the next step.  After that, you can start with your piles, one at a time.  

Benefits of a mail handling system

According to a study published in Harris Interactive, 23% of adults say they pay their bills late because they lose them.  When this happens, they also have to pay late fees.  Avoid this situation with a simple method like the one described above.  You can minimize the amount of mail you need to handle by going paperless.  Also, you can take advantage of autopay options.  

Another benefit of efficient mail handling is saving space and keep your documents organized.  All these ideas are common-sense. They are just a simple way to keep yourself organized.