First, turn over the pile of mail and slit it open with a letter opener (unless it’s some junk mail, like another credit card come-on, that you can confidently toss right into the Recycle bin or shredder). Using a letter opener is more efficient and eliminates the jagged edges left behind when you use your finger to open the envelopes.
Now that your mail is opened upside down, pick up the first piece. Because you are probably looking at a blank side of paper, you are increasing the curiosity factor to see what’s inside â€” like an unopened present. Turn it over and toss the envelope into the garbage. Now anticipate how you will deal with the contents by keeping the following four rules in mind:
Rule 1: Immediately list, file or toss every paper you don’t need on your counter (such as calendar events, advertisements or flyers).
Rule 2: Do paper-generating tasks immediately if it takes five minutes or less (to call, to order, to read).
Rule 3: List action steps for important papers in your planner or on a master list before placing them in your to-do file.
Rule 4: Simplify your life and do some of those important actions on your desk list today.
If you get stuck not knowing what to do with a piece of paper, or if you are tempted to put it down in a pile, stop. Hold the paper and answer these questions until you take action:
1. Am I willing to give up time and space to follow through on this piece of paper?
2. What action does this piece of paper require, and when will I do it?
3. Do I really want or need this piece of paper?
The key to simplifying paper is to be decisive when you first look at a paper. If you act decisively, you should easily be able to toss 70 percent of the paper coming into your home on the same day.
This excerpt from Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay that Way! is full of strategies and step by step systems to simplify the tough areas of life: time pressures, kids, clutter, and paper pileups. To get your autographed copy of Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay that Way! go to www.OrganizingPro.com.