The Pile of Mail

If you can't finish the mail, don't start the mail. You can't slice chicken for dinner and sort your bills at the same time, so when you come in the front door with a stack of mail, put it in the basket, box, or whatever container you have handy for this purpose. You don't have such a container? No wonder there are so many piles of mail around your house.

When you're ready, take your mail basket to wherever you deal with paperwork. First, pull out the circulars and flyers and set them aside; you'll either clip the coupons or put them in the recycling bin—later. Also set aside the catalogs. If you're shopping for something specific, save them. (Caveat: no multiples. The new catalog replaces the old one, which gets recycled.) If you're getting catalogs you never wanted in the first place, pull off the pages with the mailing label and put them aside; that's an action item for later. Then separate the rest: bills, personal correspondence, time-sensitive invitations, requests for charitable donations, membership renewals, new credit card offers, and so forth.

Open the bills first because they represent a relationship that must be honored; if you want the services, you have to pay. All the stuffing that says "You've been selected to receive these free gifts" goes into the recycling bin. All you want is the bill and the return envelope.

Put any invitations aside; later on, you'll transfer those into your calendar and send your response.

If there's room in your home office, have small bins in which to stack bills, invitations, and the correspondence you're keeping.

When you're done sorting, then you can read your magazines. Or get those back pages you ripped out, call the companies that sent them, and tell them what you don't want—their catalogs. (You can also log on to, a free service that will stop these unwanted mailings from being sent to you.)


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