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Managing Your Daily Mail

The mail always comes - rain or shine, dark of night, heat of summer and cold of winter. Nothing keeps the mail away except Sundays and holidays. Because it is a daily and perpetual issue, it must be contended with each day - or at the very least, every two days.

At the end of a work day, it's very tempting to shuffle through the mail and then leave it in a growing pile that you'll deal with "later." And, as you know, later never comes. Instead of facing a mountain of mail, here is an easy and organized way to manage your mail each day. Using this ADD-friendly system your mail will be taken care of in less than five minutes each day!

1. Create a mail center

A mail center should contain:

  • A recycle bin
  • Containers for each family member - clearly labeled
  • Four separate "important mail" containers labeled:
    1. Bills
    2. Action items
    3. Phone calls
    4. File

Your mail center should be centrally located and convenient, placed where you and all family members can easily see and retrieve their mail. Set up your mail center so that you can stand in one spot while sorting the mail, with a trash or recycle bin in front of you, and slots or containers for each category of mail within easy reach. Often, it's most convenient to create a mail center with sorting bins placed on shelves that hang on the wall directly above the trash or recycle bin.

Make your mail center fun and colorful. Label each bin in large lettering for easy reading.

2. Now it's time to begin managing your mail.

  • First, sort magazines, newsletter, and catalogues.

    This first step will dramatically reduce the size of your unsorted mail - an ADD-friendly beginning that will encourage you to keep going.

    Only keep catalogues if you plan to order from them right away. Otherwise, toss them. You'll receive another within six weeks. If you need something in the mean time online ordering is always at your fingertips.

  • Second - sort junk mail.

    Open the third class or junk mail only if you are ready to use it. If it is an offer for a new charge card, and you are in the market for a new charge card, open it. If it is an offer for a new mortgage loan at a low rate, and you are in the market for a new mortgage loan, open it. No need to keep it "just in case" because the offer will likely expire before your need to take advantage of it arises, and you will receive new offers regularly. Toss out unopened junk mail.

  • Third - sort the mail addressed to others.

    The whole family needs to cooperate for your mail system to work. They need to agree that you can throw out junk mail addressed to them. Family members should also agree that the official family mail sorter can dump the mail of a family member onto their bed if their mail bin is over-full because they're not taking care of their mail. Make it clear - the mail bins are NOT a storage area, just a sorting area. It is every family member's responsibility to sort and take care of their own mail on a regular basis.

  • Fourth - sort your "important mail" into four categories:

    Now you've come to the heart of your system. By managing your important mail each day, you'll soon find that you better manage your life.

    For this fourth step, you'll need four slots or containers labeled:

    1. Bills to pay

    2. Action items

      Action items are those that require a written response - a letter or the completion and return of a form. These need a slot or container during sorting, but should be immediately removed to your action file.

    3. Phone calls to make

      These are items that require a phone call. While you sort your mail, these items need to be stored in a container or slot, but they should be immediately removed to wherever you keep your list of phone calls to make. This could be your to-do list or a container beside the phone.

    4. Important documents to file

      These "important papers" fall into a must-file category, such as insurance documents, tax documents, bank statements, and so forth.

  • Last (and most important) - move your mail from these four sorting bins to their "home" - the place where you will process each piece of mail.

    For example, put your bills in your bill paying kit, put action items in a prominent place on your desk top. Place phone call near your phone, and file important documents in the appropriate folders.

  • If possible, place the desk (where you pay bills, file papers and attend to action items) near your mail sorting center.

    That way, it's one easy last step to take your "important mail" and place it where it belongs. If the desk where you "take care of business" is far from your mail center, you'll be tempted to let these most important mail items pile up instead of immediately taking them to the file or container where they belong.


ADD-friendly warning:

Your mail system will fail if it's not convenient.

This article is excerpted from ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Kathleen Nadeau and Judith Kolberg.

More information on life planning and ADHD-friendly organizing strategies can be found in ADD-friendly Ways to Organize Your Life.

 

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