July 1, 2015: It's Time to Prioritize Written by Nicki Rupe
Only if it's a priority do you act. It's like getting up to go to work. I personally hate the shock of hearing the alarm go off, demanding I leave my warm and toasty bed most mornings. But out I go because I've made it a priority to make enough money to pay the rent, feed me, and allow the indulgence of the odd Ebay purchase now and again. I don't have the luxury of relying on another person's income encouraging me to craft a sick day excuse. So the priority is to sling myself into my home office, even if it's just to write this blog.
In many ways, we let the ranking of our disorganized spaces lapse to the bottom of the Priority List. The longer we push our clutter aside for another day, the lower standing on the list it goes. We say, "It's not that bad. I'll take care of it tomorrow"...but the heap of mail on your desk screams for you to raise its priority. Am I right?
As a Professional Organizer I can show you HOW to organize and WHAT to organize, but I can't necessarily get you to WANT to organize. It's your personal priority. But let's look at the costly and timely alternatives when you don't give decluttering and organizing a higher ranking on the list.
Before the time of paperless and electronic payments, the mail on my desk got noticed when I got "round tuit". I knew about when certain bill payments were due, and I felt I didn't need the reminders, did I ? Facing creditor notices wasn't a pleasurable activity, especially during a time when I had experienced a personal loss, so I opted to do other things that were more enjoyable. Well, you know where this is going.
More often than not, I didn't remember, so when I actually opened those bills I found the due dates had passed. As a result, I paid increased percentage interest on my accounts. One year, I estimated I suffered over $200 in penalties as a result of not putting a priority to opening the mail immediately and leaving my memory to chance. Sound familiar?
You can get hit with hefty penalties from IRS notices, no-shows at doctors' appointments, disregarded reminders about insurance, credit card payments, etc., and all because of neglecting the priority of opening mail immediately.
$200 sure went a long way in those days. I could've enjoyed a sumptuous meal with friends or bought a lovely little black dress with that money. After countless times of getting dinged for my neglect, I promised myself I'd never get lax with my mail again. That was in 1980.
Nowadays, I prioritize mail (and everything else) like crazy. In fact, I look forward to seeing what treasures USPS has left me. I view it like having Christmas everyday! Yes, I know, sounds a little nuts, but hey, I'm on track!
Making a habit of going through the daily mail will save you LOADS of money in penalties, potential lost deals, and important event notices you can plan for or prioritize in your life. The result? Liberation! It not only frees up your space, but frees up your head. It's like checking off another thing on the To Do List, having a great feeling of accomplishment, and not wasting any part of your day searching for things that matter.
My challenge to you is to try this for ONE FULL WEEK:
- Deal with the mail immediately when you receive it.
- Sort it in 3 piles: Reject, Read, Respond
- REJECT the obvious junk and ads clutter.
- READ these pieces during a TV commercial or in bed before lights out.
- RESPOND to important items within 24 hours.
- Just do it!
Now add another "R": REWARD! Don't forget to reward yourself at the end of the week after completing this challenge... like that $4 latte at Starbucks, an extra scoop of Ben and Jerry's, or my personal favorite---a really fat macadamia nut cookie.
If you successfully implemented these short steps for a full week, it's pretty much guaranteed you'll be more organized in dealing with your mail quickly the next time, and have greater peace of mind about it. Repeat this activity for a minimum of 3 weeks and you will soon discover you just incorporated a good habit into your daily routine. It will be second nature now to breeze through the mail. Congratulations!
Here's wishing you a clear road to a clutter-free life.
Nicki Rupe firstname.lastname@example.org
(For more information about getting your mail under control, sign up for TOM's Useletter and we'll send you our eGuide, "5 Simple Steps to Nail Your Mail").