The key to preventing an accumulation of mail is to do a FAST sort into simple categories, as soon as it comes in. Two of those simple categories are READ and REVIEW. So what’s the difference?
“Read” is for items you need or want to take your time with. It’s really important that when you are sorting your daily mail, you don’t stop and read a magazine or letter. Think of those things as dessert and save dessert for last. You want to think of sorting mail as something you do in just a minute or two, so it doesn’t become an activity you put off.
“Review” is for items that you can scan QUICKLY. Reviewing should also be saved until after you have done the basic speed sort. Toss the junk, put your bills to pay in a dedicated location, put your to-do’s in a task collector, and file your statements. NOW you can call the mail sorting DONE. If you have time, you can address the review pile.
Reviewing typically has three outcomes. First, you may find there is one or two good articles that you want to read, when you have some time. This publication then goes to the “read pile.” Second, you might find there is just a page of information that you would like to be able to find reliably. Cut it out, file it in an appropriately labeled folder, and toss the rest of the publication. Third, upon review, you might determine that the entire publication is not worth your time. Toss immediately.
So what’s the difference between a review pile and a mail pile? After the basic speed sort, the review pile should be about 90% smaller than the mail pile. Also, if the review pile builds up, it will force the issue safely. In other words, you can toss some (older) review items at the bottom of the pile, without worrying about accidentally tossing bills-to-pay, statements, items to read, or action items. They have already been extracted.
And where should you keep your read pile? Movement is central to all good organizing plans. You will never be compelled to read a magazine at the bottom of a deep basket. Set a realistic limit and establish a realistic location. If you can’t find much time to read, a letter tray might be a good collector for magazines. When the tray is over the top. Take out some older magazines from the bottom and toss them. Limitations breed freedom. If you tend to do most of your reading in bed, don’t collect your magazines in the living room, where you spend no time.
To sum up, store publications you want to DIGEST slowly in a compelling “read pile” and publications you need to SCAN quickly in a compelling “review pile.” “Read” and “review” require different speeds, but neither should be hidden away.