Mailbox

As a new guest author to lifehack.org and an experienced productivity consultant I would like to start by naming and dispelling common productivity and organizing myths. This series will be posted each week until we cover the top 10.

Myth: I cannot stop the email, paper mail, and physical things from coming at me

Reality: You can stop much of the paper mail, email, and ‘stuff’ (items, articles, things) from coming at you and encroaching on your life.

There are preventive actions that you can take to reduce the influx of stuff being delivered to you. These are proactive steps that you must take and will feel so worthwhile when complete! Let’s look at a few representative cases that are meant to trigger some of your own efforts. Please do leave a comment with your own specific questions… I can help solve them!

Case 1 – Email. Regarding email that piles up in your inbox and you have no interest in reading, stop it from being sent to you. Send a request to the creator of the email saying simply, “Please take me off the mailing list for _________. I am making an email reduction effort and removal from the distribution list would help me. If I find I need that report in the future, I know you’re the one to contact. Thank you for your help on this.”

Case 2 – Paper mail. Stop all subscriptions to periodicals & catalogs. Yes, this is dramatic but you really aren’t reading most of them anyway. Simply call the customer service number listed in the front pages of magazines and throughout the catalogs and cancel your subscription. Be sure to say, “Please cancel my subscription and send the refund to me at the address you have. Also, please delete or mark my record so that no future mailings of any sort are sent to me.” With that done, sit back and imagine the vast relief you’ll have without a backlog of periodicals piled high reminding you of your lack of time.

Case 3 – Stuff. It’s a month after Christmas and Jane has 6 boxes of fancy tea bags that people gave her during the holidays. They’re cluttering her cube yet she doesn’t want to offend those who gave them to her. She doesn’t even like that type of tea. (You can substitute sweater or pens for tea). Jean can give the tea away to people in a distant part of the building. Or, Jean could take them home (and throw them out). Or, she could have headed this off before the holidays by promoting event only gifts. She could have made it widely known that she prefers time with people over things as gifts. By chatting about giving others the gift of time in the form of lunch gift-certificates she could make it pretty clear that such a gift would be her ideal to receive as well as to give.

You might need to be a little creative and you must be diligent then you can curtail the clutter that threatens to overwhelm – and stop the stuff!

Previous Myth: Productivity & Organizing Myth #1 – Born Organized

Susan Sabo – a traveler who has been to 47 countries. Her organized life has allowed her to go overseas for months at a time. She writes the Productivitycafe.com blog, presents to groups and consults one-on-one with individuals.

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