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!
A mail center should contain:
- A recycle bin
- Containers for each family member - clearly labeled
- Four separate "important mail" containers labeled:
- Action items
- Phone calls
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
Make your mail center fun and colorful. Label each bin in
large lettering for easy reading.
- 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
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
Bills to pay
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.
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.
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
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.
Your mail system will fail if it's not
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.