Tired of losing important documents in all those coupons, flyers and unwanted offers? Here are four simple steps that will teach you how to stop junk mail from infiltrating your life and cluttering up your mailbox.
Step 1: Get Removed from Mailing Lists
You could set aside time to contact companies that keep sending you unwanted junk mail, such as catalogs and flyers, and ask to be removed from their communications list. Calling the phone number for the company is an effective way to do this, but it can be time-consuming if you have dozens of companies to contact.
To help speed up the process and keep you off future mailing lists, consider using an opt-out service. Opt-out services are one-stop options for controlling exactly what type of mail you receive (and don’t receive).
Catalog Choice is a free online service that allows you to remove your contact information from marketer’s databases and create opt-out requests quickly through your account. It works for phone books, coupons, credit card offers, fliers, and other unsolicited mail you may receive. 41 Pounds is another opt-out service that costs only $35 for 5 years of service, and lets you choose which companies are allowed to contact you and which ones are not. It reaches out to companies on your behalf and has a very high success rate and great reviews.
Step 2: Tear Up Junk Mail Immediately
Sometimes you just want to attack junk mail as soon as you get it in your hands. Expert organizer Peter Walsh shared some battle advice with the Huffington Post. “Here’s a little tip that works for me. I immediately go through my mail, deciding what’s junk and what’s not. Whatever’s junk, I tear into a few pieces.” Even if you then throw all that mail, torn pieces and all, into a designated inbox area, you at least know that when you do sit down to more formally sort the mail, any pre-torn pieces can go straight into the shredder or recycling bin.
Step 3: Get As Much Mail Sent to You Online As Possible
Almost every company offers online mail options these days. Businesses can e-mail promotional messages and coupons, magazines and catalogs can be read online or on a mobile device, and bills can be accessed and paid through websites.
Go through the physical mail you receive and see which companies offer an e-mail or online option. Many statements or bills provide information right on the paper bill itself about how you can stop receiving a paper bill and switch to online billing. Not only does receiving your mail online reduce the work of sorting through postal mail but also it eliminates excess paper waste and helps the environment.
Step 4: Have a Designated Mail Spot
Pick a spot in your home or office that will be the spot where your mail is dealt with. The writers at the We Are Not Martha blog stress the importance of always dealing with your mail in the same location. “Be consistent and use the same location every time the mail comes. It builds muscle memory.”
Establish this spot with the appropriate tools, such as an inbox box, an outbox box, a paper shredder, pens, stamps, and a recycling bin. Put all mail in the inbox box until you are ready to deal with it.
A paper shredder is a valuable and surprisingly affordable tool every home should have, especially when it comes to dealing with junk mail that has personal information on it. Basic paper shredders can be found for about $30 at Amazon. “It annoys me that companies send all kinds of junk mail with our account numbers on them, which means I can’t just toss them in the recycling bin,” says Anna Moseley from the Ask Anna cleaning and organizing website.
Anna recommends a paper shredder for dealing with junk mail. “The shredder sits right next to my desk so when I open our mail I can slice up anything that has important info on it, and we don’t need to keep it.”
Having a special spot with all the tools you need in one location will help you feel organized and motivated, and it will save you time when dealing with your mail. Set aside time to address your mail daily so it won’t have time to pile up and so you don’t miss anything time-sensitive.
By doing what you can to remove yourself from mailing lists, switching over to electronic mail when possible, and setting up a space and regular time to address any remaining junk mail you receive, you will be on your way to winning the junk mail battle, one less paper cut at a time.