The Pile Beside My Chair, © Barbara Radisavljevic

I spend too much time sifting through information I will never read. Do you?

The Piles of my Life

This morning I went to the living room to work on my lap desk in my favorite chair before my husband came home and turned on the television. Don’t get me started on television! I had two large books I needed to use in my project. But where to put them? The table beside my chair was already loaded with books and periodicals I had stacked neatly for accessibility during leisure time — leisure time I don’t often have.

Unfortunately, on top of the books and magazines are the market ads, new non-financial mail, and the junk mail my husband thinks I should see. That top layer is not so neat. It gets higher each day. It’s a structural nightmare. About once a week I go through and try to tame it, but by the next week it’s just as bad. As you can see in the photo above, some items escape the pile and land behind the chair.

To make room for my books I started to move something and one of the top piles slid off. This was not the time to sort. I had to do the project. So I picked up what had fallen, put the unbalanced stacks on a different chair to sort later, and put my books on the now flat surface. I worked on my project until my husband came home.

My Snail Mailboxes

Every day a new stack of mail comes in. I pull the bills to be paid out of it and file them immediately. I put almost all junk mail in the circular file. On Friday the mail carrier adds a local free newspaper to my mailbox. On Tuesdays the bundle of local store ads comes in. There are also several solicitations. You know, because you probably get them, too. Added to that are the required notices sent by every government and financial institution, monthly insurance statements, bank statements, etc. Most of that I have to keep and file somewhere — when I have time. I try to do it about once a week.

Just to make matters more interesting, we have two houses — each with its own mailbox. The one where most of my inventory from my former mail order business is housed has a very large mailbox. I still get oodles of book catalogs, mailing supply catalogs, and other business related ads. We used to live there until we move a few miles away for health reasons, and a homeless person we know is living there now.

My Rural Mailbox, © Barbara Radisavljevic

My husband goes every couple of days to pick up the mail from that box. He contributes to a few political organizations and candidates, and you know what that means. Half the mailbox is full every day with requests for more money in the guise of surveys, newsletters, and reports. I have forwarded almost all important mail to where we actually live, but we are still getting all the free stuff charities and politicians send with their solicitations and receipts. I feel guilty about throwing away things someone might actually be able to use (greeting cards calendars, stickers, etc.) so I put them aside to give away.

When my husband brings the mail home from that house it’s enough to make its own stack. And stack it he does — until he has time to go through it. Most of what’s addressed to me goes in the circular file. But he tries to read his. And then he wants to pass it to me to read and I never have time. Chances are I’ve already received the same information and appeals in my email box. But he insists it goes on that stack beside my chair until I have time to read it.

My Email Mailboxes

I have one main email address and three gmail addresses I use for social media accounts. The only one I look at much is the main one. That’s enough. There is a price to pay for free books. One of them is to subscribe to the email lists that tell you about them, like BookBub. And that’s just one of about five I seem to have signed up for. Then there are the author newsletters, the Medium newsletters and notifications, the health newsletters and the blogger newsletters. Add to that the social media notifications, the political and charity solicitations, and the spam. I never catch up. I have to sort through it and delete so that I don’t miss the bills, the bill payment receipts, and important personal and business emails. The snail mail is actually easier to deal with.

Too Much Information

Between the paper and electronic communications I receive daily, I’m overwhelmed. I cannot possibly read even all that actually interests me. It’s easy to throw the rest away except it’s not. Credit card offers have to be shredded. Some mailings have elements that can’t go into the recycle bin, so you have to open them and separate the trash from what you can recycle.

I know there are ways to decrease what I get, but that also takes time. I unsubscribe to all the email lists I don’t want and hope they really remove my name from their lists. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t already sold my information to five other lists from whom I will get mail.

I’ve told my banks not to send me any more credit card offers with checks. I’m still getting them. And then, of course, are the banks I don’t yet do business with who send me credit card offers.

Does Anyone Have a Good Answer for This?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has an information overload. Everyone who sends me anything important wants me to go paperless, but that won’t work for me. First, should anything happen to me, Hubby doesn’t do computers and he would not be able to deal with online bills and reminders. Second, computers can die. I had my hard disk on this one fail three weeks ago and it took over two weeks before it was fixed and usable again. Some how the download file couldn’t be retrieved from the disk image on the backup drive.

So paper will continue to come in. As soon as I have time, I hope to start unsubscribing to most of my email lists. I’m also dating junk mail as it comes in so that I will know how old it is without opening the envelope. It’s easier to convince Hubby we can safely throw away political mail dated before the last election.

Thanks for listening to my rant. Now I have some filing to do.

Christian, bereaved adoptive mom, blogger, amateur nature photographer, voracious reader. Married 54 years. Central Coast of California.

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