I hate junk mail! It comes by the bushel full every day. I’ve tried to get my name off of mailing lists, subscriptions and I have even written letter to companies to get them to stop. But the volume is still unbelievably high and it causes real problems in my life. Everyday I throw most of it away… but it’s the unmarked stuff that causes real problems.
Is this yellow envelope junk or is it a legitimate envelope from a state agency?
Is this a credit card statement or mail disguised to look like one?
Is this free offer real or just a come on to get me to a time share presentation?
Questions like these are a daily occurrence.
When I get home at the end of the day I’m usually tired and really don’t feel like opening a stack of envelopes to find out if they are really legit or not. What usually happens is the obvious junk is thrown away and the other mail is stacked on the counter or put into an in-box on my desk. Unfortunately after a few days the stack gets pretty high and sometimes gets mixed in with bills and other important items.
Now I have an unsightly mess.
Now I really don’t want to deal with this stuff!
Yet the stack continues to grow until it gets so big that something must be done.
Let me put one more piece on the top of the stack… oh no.. the stack has fallen on the floor.
Arrggghhh… another 3 hours on Saturday going through this mess?
There must be a better way…
The idea is to …
Handle Only Once: Put a trash can next to the front door or next to the desk or counter where you usually open the mail. Handle each piece of mail only once. Put Bills into one stack and all other important mail in another. Everything else is opened and thrown away. Put a sign or card saying Handle Only Once where you can see it.
While this cut down on the size of the piles it didn’t go quite far enough. I still ended up with a stack of mail that I had to do something with and the stealth junk mail often went unopened.
The Level Two Strategy consists of making time on a daily basis to deal with the in-box. This strategy is an outgrowth of David Allen’s weekly plan to deal with the in-box and our own 48 minutes approach to focused work.
Here is the plan…
Daily 12 Minutes: Set aside a daily time period to deal with the inbox. Pay bills as they come in. Answer correspondence when it comes in. File statements in a notebook on the day they arrive. Most bills and other important correspondence really don’t take very long to work with if you set aside a daily work period to focus directly on your inbox.
I usually have two 48 minute work periods back to back in the morning separated by 12 minute breaks. Why not make one of these breaks a time to focus on the in-box on my desk? Most days there will only be a few items to deal with. Anything that isn’t handled one day stays in the box to the next. This cuts down on the overwhelming pile that often exists at the end of the week and makes sure things get handled on a regular basis.
Deliberate Action: I’ve purchased a two tier inbox and will give this plan a go over the next month. I’ll report back at the end of September how well this daily strategy works for me.