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From the mailbox to the inbox, how to get your mail organized

Does your stress level skyrocket every time you open that email inbox? Is your snail mail stacked up, waiting for you to take action? It's time to clear the clutter, and Kory Kogan, author of "The 5 Choices," shared her tips for getting rid of the mail pileup once and for all.

"By not getting organized, what are we missing? We're wasting time," Kogan said. So let's get that time back, shall we?

Regular mail

When you reach into that mailbox and pull out a stack of paper, have a plan in place to sort it right away. Kogan suggests having four baskets in your home office, each labeled one of the following:

  • Contact
  • Task
  • Appointments
  • Notes

Sort each piece into one of the baskets so you know what is what, allowing you to more effectively take action. For any mail that has a date associated with it, like a bill due or an upcoming birthday party, make sure to note those dates in your calendar right away to help clear your mind.

Emails

The email inbox is an explosion of work, business and promotional emails, and it's easy to get lost in the mess. 

"Every email is a decision," Kogan said. "Automate those decisions." 

Kogan recommends taking a few minutes to set up your email inbox to do the work for you. Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Flag two to three of your most important contacts so that every time an email comes in from one of the appointed contacts, it gets flagged. 
  • Automatically delete unnecessary emails. "Set up a rule so you don't even see them," Kogan said. 
  • Get off distribution lists. The 30 seconds it takes to unsubscribe will have a lasting impact. 
  • After two to three email exchanges, make a call. "Pick up the phone and get it done," Kogan said.