Selfie-Discipline #2: Sort The Mail

Every day the mail comes in. These days, we get both paper and digital mail, and it trickles in all day long. Since mail piles up quickly, the secret is to conduct a daily sort. The sort is a way to break down the mail from a conglomerated mass into logical categories.

For paper mail, this entails recycling any advertising and unwanted pieces, and then grouping the rest into folders or piles by type of action, such as “to shred,” “to file,” “to follow up,” or “to pay.”

For email, this means trashing the spam, downloading/saving archive items, responding to “quick questions,” and then identifying and capturing needed action steps to your “to do” list. Since email arrives 24/7, you may wish to sort 2-3 times during the day. There are many tools for sorting email, including filters and rules that can help you keep the clutter at bay.

The secret to sorting mail is to do it quickly. You don’t need to process the items, just triage them until you are ready to take action.

Do you sort your paper mail daily? How often do you sort your email inbox?

10 thoughts on “Selfie-Discipline #2: Sort The Mail”

    1. Way to go, Janine. Your “disciplines” are serving you well. I imagine you are going to do pretty well on all of these. Thanks for letting me know what you think!!

  1. I triage my mail daily. Some of my clients like to triage weekly. Either routine will work however plan for this with the amount of time required. Daily takes 5 minutes while weekly takes an hour.

    1. Excellent point, Ellen. If you decide to tackle this once a week, you will need to set aside more time. What matters is choosing (and sticking with!) a system that fits your schedule.

  2. I definitely think that responding to quick questions fast is a great tip! Sometimes I read email and then don’t reply to later when I could just have easily responded right after reading them – this just wastes extra time having to read them again and replying. It also keeps them from getting “lost” in one’s Inbox. Happy New Year!
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    1. It is so easy for emails to fall down into the feed and get lost! I just found one today that I didn’t answer promptly because I was on vacation. This is why I have to go through my inbox and delete, delete, delete. It reminds me what is in there. Usually, I respond in the moment.

  3. YES. I used to just throw it all on the counter and hope it would sort itself. Now I really go through it and if it’s important mail for Cassidy, I put it somewhere he’ll actually find it! Then for me, I have fun mail and then mail I need to do something with. Generally all of my bills are online so I get the luxury of not getting a lot of paper bills.

    1. Online billing makes sorting the paper mail a much happier experience, right? Now we can look for cards, magazines, and fun stuff. Plus, online bill paying saves a lot of time!

  4. Sorting mail is one of my least favorite things to do. However you have motivated me to do better. A lot of mail has accumulated during the holidays and I am now ready to tackle it.

    1. I hear you on accumulated mail. I had quite a stack to deal with myself. Now that I handled the backlog, the daily sort should be quick and easy.

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