Let’s purge your electronic and paper mail which will in turn benefit your brain by de-cluttering your mind. Yes, that’s true.

E-Mail

1. Assign A Time – Decide in advance when you are going to read your emails daily. Set up a routine for yourself with a beginning and ending time-frame allowing you to process your inbox completely. You only want to open your email when you are prepared to respond and deal with the requests you receive.

2. DAF – You have three choices to make with an email after you know what it is:

  • Delete (please get off lists by unsubscribing too)
  • Act
  • File for Future Follow Up

If you can answer the email within two minutes than do so immediately rather than putting it off until later. If something is going to take longer than three minutes either pick up the phone to complete the action or decide when you are going to get to this and make a note in your planner to do so. Then move the email into an appropriate folder.

3. Folder Holder – Most of our emails will fall into certain categories based on our lifestyle. Instead of having one big toy chest of a mailbox, create folders for the categories of your typical mail such as:

  • School
  • Sports
  • Church
  • Casual Reading/Newsletters
  • Names of Loved Ones

4. No Picking Cherries – By following the above tips, you shouldn’t be cherry-picking through your email opening only the ones you want to or are easiest to do.

5. Silence is Golden – Turn off email notifications. The noise or the visuals will distract you from your current task and then you’ll have to re-focus again in order to get back to what you were doing in the first place.

USPS Mail

mailMy advice is very similar to electronic mail with a few changes.

1. Assign A Time – Decide in advance when you are going to take in your mail and process your papers. Just like electronic mail you want to use the time wisely to finish the paper mail pile completely. Create “homes” for different types of mail. For example:

  • Recycling Bin
  • Shredding Area
  • Bill Paying Center
  • Catalog Container
  • “To Be Filed”

2. TAF – You have three choices to make with your snail mail after you know what it is:

  • Toss (Probably more a recycle or shred)
  • Act
  • File for Future Follow Up

If you can complete what’s in the envelope within two minutes then do so immediately rather than putting it off until later. If something is going to take longer than three minutes either pick up the phone to complete the action or decide when you are going to get to this and make a note in your planner to do so. Then move that piece of mail into a follow-up folder or a tickler system.

3. No Picking Cherries – By following the above tips, you shouldn’t be cherry-picking through your regular mail opening only the ones you want to or are easiest to do.

4. Shred Till You’re Dead – I heard this from a colleague recently and kind of liked it. We all need to be ruthless about getting the amount of junk mail and unnecessary paperwork off our kitchen counters and desks but we also need to be very wary of identity theft.

5. Get Off Lists – Stop it from walking in your house in the first place by going to www.CatalogChoice.org.