Most everyone gets a barrage of emails, telephone calls, and physical mail that they don’t really need. I’m not necessarily talking about spam. I’m talking about newsletters from organizations in which you are no longer active, donation requests from non-profits that you gave to years ago, etc.
Most people just accept the interruption and toss these items into the trash, but a better option is to try to stop them altogether. Taking a few minutes to send a note asking to be taken off their mailing list can save you a tremendous amount of time in the future. If you get a monthly newsletter in the mail that you identify, consider opening and then toss in the trash, it can easily take up a minute of your time. If you get 10 items like this each month, you are wasting 2 hours a year on dealing with pieces of paper that you can stop from coming into your life in the first place.
Two hours over an entire year may not seem like much, but it is two hours you could spend doing something more important to you. You are also doing the organizations a favor by letting them save their marketing dollars for people who are interested in reading their newsletter.
Originally published December 18, 2007.