Yesterday, I finally broke down and did my taxes, something I should have done months ago. I always get a refund, and I really don’t need or want the government holding on to my money longer than necessary. I used to always do them early, but over the past few years, it seems I’ve been filing later and later. The reason for this is both simple and incredibly stupid: I have lost all ability to cope with my mail.
I’d estimate that I get one piece of mail I actually need or want — bills (from the few companies that still refuse to e-bill), cards, wedding invitations, tax documents, etc. — for every 10 pieces of junk — catalogs, credit card solicitations, insurance offers, charity pitches — that arrive. My general habit is to look quickly at the “real” mail, and then add it to The Pile, which is generally on the bookcase by the door, sometimes the chair, occasionally both. After it has tipped over and cascaded onto the floor a few times and/or when company is expected, The Pile gets put in a bag in the closet. It comes back out only when I need something that I can’t find.
Such is the case with the taxes. I know the W2 and the 1099s arrive in January and February each year, but rather than being shuffled into some special priority stack, they just get put with everything else. This means that doing the taxes involves dealing with The Pile. In this age of identity theft, this involves an initial triage consisting of sorting into piles (shred, file, trash, recycle) and ripping (taking the address/customer number off the catalogs/magazines), followed by the aforementioned shredding, filing, recycling, and trashing. Gah. It takes hours. And with all this effort required just to get to the five stupid envelopes that I need to file the taxes, it’s no wonder I’ve been stalling.
During yesterday’s destruction of The Pile, in addition to the tax documents, I found about a dozen items I needed to keep in my files. In addition, I am now the proud owner of the following charity-supporting objects: six note cards, a personalized pad of paper, a sticker, a map, and 14 sheets of address labels. There are more than 75 items in the shred pile. I threw out one crammed-to-the-gills grocery bag full of trash. I recycled a foot-high stack of unread catalogs.
I am not exaggerating.
In the past, I have attempted (clearly unsuccessfully) to avoid this problem by not letting the mail pile up — by sorting, shredding, and recycling every day — and I just can’t do it. So today, I decided to make it stop. I went online to three sites: OptOutPrescreen.com, DMAChoice.org, and Catalog Choice. Over the course of the next one to three months I will be removed from the lists for credit card and insurance offers, non-profit and charity mailings, and bunches of catalogs. The Pile will cease to be. I can hardly wait.
Updated to add: Hat tip to Unclutterer.com, where I heard about the junkmail-ending services above. They posted about each of them kind of ages ago, but what can I say… I’ve been in denial about the disaster that is The Pile.