How to Reclaim Your Time - Inboxes


Years ago, I learned about the excessive environmental waste aspect of junk mail. Did you know that the average person receives 41 pounds of junk mail each year?!

Most of that goes right into the trash, or at best is recycled, but 40% of it ends up in the landfill since not everything can be recycled. What?!?! True! So, I made it a practice to be diligent about getting off all mailing lists.

Little did I know there was also a significant time waste going on. That was before I realized how invaluable our time is. I was in my early 20s; cut me some slack. ;-) In a culture that glorifies being busy, we're all pressed for time—everything moves too quickly (except the things that take forever) and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

To deal with my own stress around this, I have a regular practice of looking at my plate to find what I can take off of it. I look for things that don't really serve me or my higher mission in life as well as things that in the moment take only a few minutes but over time add up to a lot of decisions—one of the most taxing things we do every single day.

Our time is a precious and valuable resource. Only you deserve to decide how your time is spent. Like me, I'm guessing that slogging through junk mail isn't high on your priority list. Instead, it's more of an intrusion into our private spaces when something we haven't requested shows up in our mailboxes (whether physical or electronic).

One simple way we can reclaim our time is by owning our inboxes. Below, I'll show you step-by-step how our family got down to only 5-10 pieces of postal mail per week—and most of those are letters, cards, and things we actually want to be getting.

With the free practices I share, you, too, can soon have inboxes that are free of clutter. You'll have more mental space with the reprieve from some of the unnecessary daily decisions. Eventually, you'll even know instantly when a company has sold your name so that you can take action to stop the wave of more junk mail before it becomes a tsunami.

So, let's go!


  1. As soon as you get a mailing you don't want, kindly call or email that company and say, "Please remove me from all mailing lists and do not rent or sell my information to others."
  2. When you receive promotional products like samples, etc., write on the package or envelope ,"Refused. Return to Sender. Remove from all mailing lists." You can do the same with unopened envelope solicitations as long as it says, "Return, Forwarding, Change, or Address Service Requested" somewhere on the envelope. Make sure you draw one diagonal line crossing through your name and address and then several lines through the barcode at the bottom of the envelope, which is used for the post office to efficiently deliver the mail to your address (if it's still visible, that same piece of mail might make it's way back to you).
  3. Register with the Direct Mail Association. This is the source of most mailings and getting off their list will make a big dent in the pile. Many catalogs are printed far in advance, so it may take up to 90 days for you to notice the effect.
  4. Stop Credit Card solicitations by registering online with OptOut Prescreen or calling them at 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). These come from big purchases (think cars and houses), filling out warranty cards, and getting new credit cards.
  5. Avoid entering your information for sweepstakes, in-store reward cards, and warranties that don't require proof of purchase.
  6. When you donate to a charity, tell them to make sure that your information is kept confidential and won't be rented or sold to anyone else.


  1. Register with the National Do Not Call Registry or call 888-382-1222.
  2. Opt out of receiving phone books.


If it doesn't add value to your life, unsubscribe. If you've got 12,000 unread emails, shuck that shizzle!


Do you have unused email addresses floating out in cyberspace? If so, delete those accounts—there's no reason to have them hanging out there taking up your psychic space. Too many e-dresses are more effort to keep track of. Simplify by keeping just two:

  1. One email address that you give only to people you want to have direct access to you.
  2. One for online shopping, petition-signing, etc.

I hope you choose to take action so you can discover how refreshing it is to create psychic space with fewer unwanted grabs for your time and attention, fewer decisions, and less mail sorting. I can't wait to hear how it goes!

With love of simplicity,



Photo credit: Getty Images


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