Incoming! Handling Mail

In my past posts about managing paperwork, we’ve talked about the tools you need, decision fatigue, and the basic sorting categories you need to get started. This week, I want to address two of the three types of incoming paperwork and the sorting categories in a little more detail.


Incoming paperwork is typically mail, the bits and pieces from wallets, purses and sticky notes, and the handouts we receive from work and outside activities. To reduce the piles and stacks of unopened envelopes and other papers, we must open the mail, toss the trash, and shred the personally identifiable information (PID).


Many people don’t open mail because they know what’s inside. But every piece of necessary mail you receive is padded with volumes of paper you can discard. When you open a utility bill, especially one that you pay via electronic funds transfer, you can toss the envelope, the return envelope and any advertisements, privacy statements or other inserts. You’re left with ONE piece of paper. Once you’ve looked it over to make sure everything is in order, you can probably shred the statement, too! If you want to save it for any reason, at the end of the year you’ll have 12 manageable pieces of paper.


The point is, open the mail when it comes in the house.


The next category of incoming paperwork is handouts – those pieces or sets of papers we get from work about insurance enrollment, treatment information from the doctor’s office, handouts from networking events, and flyers and advertisements, etc. -- should be culled for trash, then grouped with action items, reading material, and filing.


Educational items like the class syllabus, assignments, study guides and notes, etc., fall into this group, but should be kept with similar items related to the coursework whether it’s continuing education, personal development, or other educational pursuits.


Next time we will look at all the little bits and pieces of paper that come into your life via wallets, purses, briefcases, and bags.


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