General Papers: Magazines, Junk Mail, Coupons and Other Papers
Many warranties are almost generic, and it’s difficult to tell
exactly which watch, appliance, or tool they are for. Write a description
of the item on the cover or first page. Staple the receipt to the
warranty, for proof of date of purchase. Just a little organization may
be sufficient. Instead of trying to sort your warranties by type of product
or location in the house, just keep all your warranties in one place such
as a box or pocket folder.
There are a number of things you can do to reduce junk mail. You’ll
never eliminate all of your junk mail, but you can reduce it significantly.
- Read your mail with the recycling bag within reach. Shred pre-approved
credit card offers and any other mail with sensitive information.
- Call 888-5OPTOUT (567-8688) to stop credit bureaus from providing
your name for pre-approved credit card offers.
- Go to http://opt-out.cdt.org for
help with opting out of various companies and services selling
your name to others.
- Tell magazines not to sell your name. Look through the magazine
for a statement similar to this:
"From time to time, we share our subscriber's
addresses with companies whose products may be of interest." You
may find it labeled Consumer Information or it may be with the
subscription information. Write to the address provided and tell
them not to share your information.
- Call catalogs companies and sources of other unwanted mail to
take you off their lists.
- End your enrollment in frequent-buyer clubs, frequent-flier programs
and other programs where you will receive statements and advertisements
- Fill out only the pertinent information on registration
cards for purchases.
- Write the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference
Service to request that your name be removed from mailing lists.
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
- Whenever you sign up for anything where you are providing your
address, phone number or email address—a free drawing, membership
at a movie rental store, or a frequent buyer club—look for
boxes that let you “opt out” of receiving mailings
from that company or from others. If there isn’t any opt
out opportunity, consider whether you are willing to take the risk
of your name getting on a distribution list.
- Take advantage of the “opt out” options described
in the Privacy Notices you receive from all of your financial institutions,
credit cards and other lenders, insurers, and investment companies.
You only need to respond to these mailings once from each company.
You may want to keep a file labeled “Privacy Notices” to
keep these in. Then, when you receive a new notice, you can quickly
check whether you have already opted out with that company.
Floating Pieces of Paper/Notes [Back
Eliminate floating pieces of paper by having only one place to write
things down, and identifying a home where it will always be kept. You
might choose to make your notes in a notebook that stays by the phone,
a small notebook or pocket sized planner that you carry in your purse
or pocket, or a PDA that you always carry with you.
Never jot something down with the idea that you’ll rewrite or
type it later. Write it down in its permanent location to start with.
If the information eventually needs to be in electronic form, type your
original notes or compose your first draft on the computer.
Magazines and Newspapers—Whole Ones and Clippings [Back
If you have stacks of unread newspapers, you have already lost most
of their value because what they contain isn’t news any
- The most sensible approach would be to recycle the entire stack
of them, and consider reducing the number of days a week you receive
- If you contend that you are going to read them, give yourself
a deadline: If you haven’t read at least two old papers per
day by the end of the week, admit that you’re not going to
read them and toss them.
- If you can’t be convinced to get rid of the old papers
without reading them, you should cancel your subscription (which
will also save you some money) until you get caught up.
Two possibilities exist: you really aren’t that interested in
what the magazine covers, or you haven’t made the time to read
them. In either case, consider canceling the subscription. If you eventually
catch up reading the old copies, then you might re-subscribe. If after
a few months you still haven’t read any of the old copies, toss
them and don’t even think about subscribing again!
Magazines and magazine articles you’ve
Few magazines other than Consumer Reports are indexed. As a result,
you can’t access the information in a stack of magazines the way
you can the information in books. A stack of articles torn from magazines
isn’t much easier to use.
Old, intact magazines are generally only useful if you intend to read
through them again as you would a new magazine. Retrieving and using
the information from them, or from articles you’ve torn out, requires
separating the bits of information and organizing them in such a way
that is accessible. That takes time and effort, and most people don’t
have the time or won’t expend the effort to make it work. If you
want to give it a try, choose one magazine on a topic that you’re
extremely interested in. Then, try these suggestions:
- First, convince yourself that magazines do not need to remain
pristine. If turning down page corners, writing notes, or highlighting
sentences helps you make use of the information, don’t hesitate.
- As you read the magazine, mark the pages or articles that you
either want to save or that contain a fact or piece of information
you want to retain. Either turn down the upper corner of the page
or use a sticky flag.
For facts or figures you want to recall, highlight the info or
draw a line along the side of the paragraph.
- Write at the top of the page the topic that this article or fact
will eventually be filed under.
- For entire articles you selected, tear out, staple together,
and file. (Don’t have a file yet? Then make one, using the
topic you wrote on the article. And if you have files already set
up and you have written the topic at the top of each article, someone
else could even do your filing!)
- For individual facts or thoughts you marked, transfer to a central
database using one of the following strategies:
- Cut out the info,
tape to pages in a notebook divided according to topic, or
onto a standard-sized piece of paper to file by category.
- Write the
info in a notebook or log, with sections devoted to various
the info into a text file or database on your computer, or
PDA (personal digital assistant, such as a Palm). Computer
files have the advantage of being searchable.
Small stacks of papers lying around, already grouped into some sort
of category, are a sure indicator that some files are needed. But
before you create file folders for each of these stacks, ask yourself,
"Will I EVER pull out the information and look at it?"
Envelopes or accordion files work well for storing and organizing coupons.
Separate coupons by purpose or according to where you use them. For
instance, coupons you would take to the grocery store should go in
one envelope. Coupons for fast food should go in another. Make additional
envelopes for other coupons you keep and use, such as dry cleaning
and car service. Fast food and take-out coupons might be kept in the