We all fall behind from time to time, but if you’re amassing several stacks of post because you’re afraid of opening mail, the consequences could be costly.
Mounting late fees. Poor credit ratings. Unclaimed money. Missed opportunities. Anxiety and stress.
You may deeply dread what may be lurking inside, but ignoring your mail won’t make it go away and will only make matters worse.
For some this will mean having to face an unpleasant reality. But I assure you taking action now will not only put you in a position to do something about the situation, but also give you a dignity and confidence that you’re taking responsibility. Here are 7 steps to follow.
7 Steps To Dealing With Unopened Post:
Step 1 – Stop Thinking, Start Doing The first order of business is to stop projecting what you think is sealed inside those envelopes. This is both a waste of time and an unnecessary cause for anxiety.
Looks can be deceiving. How many times have you held your breath opening a brown envelope only to find a simple information leaflet inside? I’m not suggesting every sealed envelope is a false alarm, but don’t allow internal worrying stymie you from dealing with your affairs.
Step 2 – Round-up Gather all correspondence from your home, office or wherever your post materialises. Perform a thorough sweep to avoid surprises, especially if you tend to hide things quickly out of the way in a last-minute tidy.
Step 3 – Prepare Designate a processing area. Ideally this will be your desk or household admin station. Though depending on the volume you may need to temporarily cordon off a larger space for the project, such as your dining table.
Then arm yourself with a few tools to make the process easier:
- Letter opener – Not compulsory but it’ll save your hands and give you a sense of authority. Don’t cower, let those letters know you mean business.
- Shredder – Invest in a good quality cross-cut shredder for documents bearing your address or other sensitive details.
- Recycle bin – You’ll lose a lot of paper so have a decent sized container at arm’s reach.
- Stapler and/or paper clips – Fasten any documents with respective counterparts to avoid separation.
- Two containers for ‘Action’ and ‘To Be Filed’ – These can be folders, baskets, trays, magazine files – whatever strikes your fancy.
Step 4 – Extract the Essence Start from the top and work your way down swiftly, handling one envelope at a time. Extract only the document(s) of any importance and assess quickly to determine the next step.
– If it requires action, e.g. make a payment, complete a form, RSVP to an event, etc. place it in your ‘Action’ container.
– If it doesn’t require action but you need to keep it for reference, place it in your ‘To Be Filed’ container.
Step 5 – Bin the Bumpf Discard the envelope and all the superfluous filler. Shred anything with your address or account details. Toss anything else in the bin for recycling.
*Tip: Don’t be tempted to return the essential document back into the envelope. It’ll be less identifiable when concealed and more likely to go missing.
Step 6 – First Things First Review action items and prioritise by urgency. Then schedule a recurring time when you can set to work with minimal interruption.
Aim to handle anything particularly unpleasant when your energy levels are at their peak. It’ll feel less daunting and as you gain traction you’ll feel more inclined to continue tackling other matters.
Step 7 – Preventative Maintenance By now you should be savouring relief, but you’ll want to implement safeguards to remain up-to-date.
– Identify one catch-all location for your incoming post to avoid it spilling into multiple locations.
– Ring-fence a time for opening and processing your mail at regular intervals during the week so it becomes habit.
Final thought: Don’t berate yourself. Acknowledge that things slipped behind, but applaud yourself for doing something about it. An immense cloud will be lifted.
I never worry about action, but only inaction. ~Winston Churchill