How To Sort Mail

Everybody gets mail. Each day we casually pick up this stack of paper and bring it into our homes. We stash it, stick it, pile it up, and cringe every time we walk by it. What is the best way to handle the mail?

First of all, we need to stop thinking of it as “mail.” It is really a broad array of communication. Some of it is for our pleasure, some of it requires we follow-up, some of it requires us to pay money. In other words, mail is a diverse collection of material. To handle it well, the key is to separate “sorting the mail” from “acting on the mail.” The sorting should be done each day, taking only about 5 minutes. Then, time should be scheduled during the week to perform the various tasks that the mail requires.

Here is an approach to try:

Steps to sort the mail.

Do you sort the mail daily?

27 thoughts on “How To Sort Mail”

    1. Yes, before it becomes a big task or even worse, ends up piled into a bin or box and gets lost. The sorting is what makes you efficient when it comes time to act. Have a great week, Janine!

  1. We’re lucky to have a central mailroom in our building, complete with a garbage can so we don’t have to bring unwanted mail into our home. I’d prefer it was a bluebox, but it’s very helpful!

    1. Sorting mail while standing next to a recycle bin or garbage can is idea. That keeps the excess from ever getting into your space. I feel that same way when I pick up mail that has been held at the post office while on vacation. I just stand their and pitch everything I don’t want into the recycle bin and end up carrying a lot less home!

  2. I love the beautiful simplicity and effectiveness of your graphic! Mail can be such a burden for many, but having a good system in place can make all the difference. Then it’s a matter of setting aside the time to actually take action on the “action” items. But if the basic system is in place, at least the pieces that can be disposed of will be done quickly and not pile up.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…What Does Organizing Success Look Like for You?My Profile

    1. I so agree. If we can do that daily sort, then when it comes time to pay bills or make calls, we can be immediately productive. If the daily sort has not been done, then valuable time is usually spent trying to figure out what needs attention. As for the graphic, sometimes I think it is fun to be more visual and less verbal. Thanks for the affirmation!

  3. Great infographic, Seana. I always find it interesting that people don’t keep their shredder and recycling bin near where they sort their mail. It’s so much easier to get rid of sensitive mail right away instead of taking it to another area of the home or office to shred.

    1. If you can sort the mail while standing next to a recycle bin, you are golden, right? I try and walk into my house from the mailbox through the garage so I can do this. I even stop with my weekend newspaper and cull out all the advertising so I only bring in the parts I actually want to read! Thanks for the affirmation on the graphic – I’m hoping people may find this easy to pin!

    1. Sounds like a well organized system:) It really is simply easier to pitch the unwanted material into the bin on the way into the house. I’m sure marketers would rather have it sitting on the kitchen counter, but I say keep anything you don’t want out of the house!

  4. I don’t but I am going to try. Usually I leave it in a pile for Cassidy and he winds up putting some on my desk and throwing out the rest. I’d love to have a good method.

    1. Just pick it up from the mailbox when you have the 5 minutes. Stop at the recycle bin on the way into the house and get rid of the trash, slot the remainder into these categories. Some may go to Cassidy’s desk/area, some may come to you. It really saves tangible time!

    1. Exactly, Lisa. I’m so glad to hear this summary because this is my main point. Once it piles up, then the “acting” portion gets harder, because you have to add in the sorting time. Sorting a big pile takes energy and time, so people procrastinate dealing with it. Glad to know the message got through!

    1. That’s a very positive spin on mail sorting! Sometimes there is a gem in the stack of advertising and bills. Just yesterday I received a letter from a friend who travels to Africa each summer and connects people here with prayer buddies over there. Her letter included a note from a girl I pray for, and it was so sweet. A treasure indeed!

    1. Decided to go a little more “visual” with this one. I don’t have access to great photos of beautiful spaces the way you do:) I imagine dealing with mail when you travel all the time is tricky, right?

  5. The nature of what we are receiving in the mail is really changing. Seems like we have as many Amazon and mail order packages as we do regular mail envelopes anymore,. They are sometimes left behind the large flower pots we have, or big envelopes get folded and stuffed in the mailbox, and I’ve left packages out in the front bushes for a week not knowing they were delivered! They even show up on Sunday now, and I’m not used to expecting deliveries to show up on Sunday, so I never look for them. I’ve had to learn to check the mailbox, the front bushes, the front doorstep, the garage door, and anywhere else you can hide something. With four people in our household, I’m not the only one receiving mail or packages as when our kids were little, so I don’t always know when I’m expecting a delivery. We end up with stacks of little cardboard boxes and packaging. I like all the convenience of these mail order services, but I keep thinking that there needs to be a modern update for mailboxes that includes a package size cabinet instead of the little slot or square box.

    1. I love this comment! You are right that packages now compromise a large percentage of the mail, and since they don’t fit in the mailbox, they get left on the steps (or in the bushes, or behind a plant…) I believe that the mailboxes are for US Mail anyway, so UPS (and other services) really shouldn’t use them. I can envision something along the lines of an old fashioned milk box for packages; a place where a package could be left, that is weather-safe and where it doesn’t sit out in plain view where passers-by can see it!

    1. Isn’t that the truth? Junk and bills. Every now and then, a letter or an invitation. Most of my catalogs go right into the recycle bin, but sometimes I enjoy just leafing through them first. There are also packages, which make up an increasingly large part of our mail. A reader commented on this with some great insights. Maybe I need to write another post!

  6. Simple and super helpful! This is also one thing I’m working on. For months, I couldn’t figure out a system that works yet so I’m gonna have to try again. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Sort Mail » LoginCast.Com

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