Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hippie Method:Junkin' it With BHG

*just in case you didn't put two and two together, BHG means Barefoot Hippie Girl.=)

On Monday I wrote a post about sorting your blog subscriptions. Which was actually kind of popular. Which surprised me. Because I am the last person to ask for advice about techy stuff.

Today I am tackling the topic of junk mail-both virtual and paper.

When we got home from our month long trip, I had a 12" stack of mail waiting for me. That is a bit daunting.

The week we were on Java and unconnected to the internet, I reentered civilization, and found over 400 emails waiting for my attention.

Talk about overwhelming.

On any given day I wake up to 40-50 emails in my inbox. Throughout the day, I deal with at least that many more.

And thus it is no surprise to me when others talk about their over flowing email box. Or about counters running over with real live junk mail.

So what do you do? What did I do to tackle a months worth of mail? What did I do to tackle a week's worth of unopened and unread emails?

I sorted. Following my same basic blog subscription reading formula. Purge. Read Now. Read Later-if I have time.

Seriously, I have a cut throat mail sorting policy.

I have realized that my piles don't lessen by ignoring them. They just grow, and spread. And cause guilt and annoyance.

When I looked at the pile of mail, I determined I was not going to read all of it. I should have taken pictures to show you the vastness of this task. But, here's what I did. And, actually, this is what I do every day when I get the mail out of the box.

I purged. I started at the top of the pile and immediately made one pile for consideration and one pile for trash.

Into the trash went the weekly coupon circulars, everything from utility providers that is not a bill but sales, book catalogs, mass mailings, everything. If it was generic like "to the resident" it went in the garbage pile. No second thoughts. As a side note, it is a great idea to shred any credit card or sales letters. This helps to protect from identity theft.

a random day of random junk mail. Anything like this was gone.
This reduced my pile to about 4 inches. This is the stuff I have to open and read to make sure I am not tossing anything important.

I separated this stack into:

Bills for us can be personal or for our roofing business. And roofing bills can be notes of purchase or the actual invoice. So, I separate into basically 2 sub-categories here. Bills and notes of purchase. I can immediately file the notes of purchase. I place bills into my bill holder, knowing I will get back to them in the next week to pay what needs paid as it comes due.

Personal letters. These are so few and far between, but Christmas cards, etc, would also fit into this category. Depending what the letter is, I will keep it for Mr. Hippie to read also or place it with my Bible to respond to. Or both. I read thank you notes, and read them to my family, and then I generally get rid of them. It may seem heartless, but I usually don't hang on to them for very long.

Announcements. As I am separating into categories, announcements get their own pile. I then go through the pile and write the vital information on the calendar or in my notebook. And then, (say it with me...) it goes in the trash.

Magazines and catalogues.  Each gets delivered to its intended recipients. If I have the desire, I will flip through a catalogue in my spare time. If not, I get rid of it. It saves me coveting things I really don't need. I save my magazines for a while, but with several monthly subscriptions they can get rather abundant. So, I tend to read them, keep the ones jam packed with ideas that I like, and then pass on the goodness to someone else. With the kids' magazines, if they start to fall apart, they get

One great solution to dealing with the junk mail problem before it even starts, is to put yourself on opt out lists. In this link here, there are multiple links to opt out of junk mail, credit card and telemarketing calls, and commercial emails. It is ecologically responsible and it reduces your stack to sort through. (this green opposed Barefoot Hippie Girl just pushed a green option...You'd better watch out. It's a slippery slope.)
my bill holder, holding my bills to pay

My strategy for dealing with the over 400 accumulated emails while on Java, or the 40-50 emails I daily wake up to, is very similar to my strategy for dealing with junk mail.

I scan my inbox, immediately deleting all sales emails from stores and such. I don't shop very much. If for some reason I find that I am going to Kohls, etc. I can always search my trash for the newest coupon. The other, more long term option, is to unsubscribe from the  mailing. Often you signed up for a coupon, but now you just find your inbox inundated. Unsubscribe. You can always re-up for a bonus coupon or something. Devious, (and I have not actually done it), but it gets the job done.

My email sorting strategy then takes a slightly different turn from my junk mail strategy. If I really want to read something, I leave it unread. It is a reminder to me that I haven't gotten to it, and that I need to. This includes blog posts that I want to read, and personal emails.

Not as important emails I actually scan immediately, note what I need to, and then delete it.

And that is also the thing about my inbox, I have less than 200 saved messages in my inbox. Messages that I have read and kept. Most are love notes from Mr. Hippie, some are recipes or humorous links. Some are race notifications. Some are letters from friends and missionaries that contain prayer requests. That is about all I hold onto.

My inbox is very fluid. I will keep a someone else's blog post in my inbox until I read it. If I have read it, and it is still there, it is because there is some action I am still planning to take with it. Maybe I plan to link up, or write a comment, or share it. But, generally, I read a blog post and then I delete it. Because I can always go to the site and re-read it there, if I so desire.

So, this is the Hippie Method for sorting mail. It works pretty good. Though it isn't flawless. I could tell you about sorting through my garbage yesterday to find the check I inadvertently threw away.


But, for the most part, my non-saving personality stands me in good stead as far as mail and email go.

I titled this Crazy March Winter. It's two days before spring is suppose to be sprung, and we have 5-6" of fresh snow.
What strategies do you have for keeping your email and snail mail from virtually and literally piling up? Share with all of us in the comments.