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How To Clear Out All Your Unwanted Mail

It’s fun getting email and snail mail when you receive something you actually want, but that joy is easily overshadowed by the massive amount of mail you don’t really care to read. While spam filters do a great job of killing your supply of junk mail, your physical and digital inboxes are likely filled with newsletters and advertisements you could easily do without. Here’s how you can clear out all that crap.

The Physical Inbox

Your physical inbox — that is, your mailbox — is frequently stuffed with catalogues, fliers and mail for previous residents, and it sucks. You’ll never get rid of all of it, but you can reduce the volume of your physical mail with a few strategies.

Switch To Electronic Statements

Most companies don’t want to pay the cost of sending you mail when they can just give you a bill online. It’s cheaper for them, and it’s less hassle for you. Indeed, many companies now charge extra if you want an actual, physical bill. So the next time you get a physical bill, find out how you can switch to getting an email instead. Often the URL you need will be on the bill itself; if not, call customer service and ask.

Strike Out Mail To Former Residents

If you’re not the first person to ever live in your home, you’re probably receiving some mail from previous residents who forgot to forward their mail. Cross out the name and address, write “Not known at this address”, circle the indicated return address (if there is one) and pop it into a post box.

Put A No Junk Mail Sign On Your Mailbox

This will cut down on most unwanted catalogues. Australia Post points out that it doesn’t handle most junk mail, so the results won’t be perfect. Note also that political, educational, religious and charity mail is exempt from requests to pay attention to “No Junk Mail” stickers. (You can also register on the ADMA Do Not Mail list, but this won’t stop unwanted marketing from companies you have already had dealings with.)

The Digital Inbox

The digital inbox can often feel more cluttered by unwanted mail than the physical because, in a list of messages, all mail looks the same. Inbox clutter has long been a problem online, of course, so there are plenty of tools to help you out. Some are built into your email service or app already, and others are available elsewhere online.

Get Rid of Newsletters and Ads You Don’t Want

Sometimes you sign up for newsletters unintentionally and you find yourself stuck with a bunch of mail you don’t want to read. You can get rid of it quickly by doing a quick search for the word “unsubscribe” and creating a filter that automatically deletes emails with that word in it. Of course, that system is imperfect because it’s possible that it will catch a message that’s not a newsletter. (Not very likely, but possible.) Alternatively, you can use a service like Unroll.me that’s designed to find all the newsletters in your inbox and help you easily unsubscribe without hassle.

Create A Whitelist Filter

If your email service or app provides filtering options, you should consider creating a whitelist that sorts your email by priority. Even with features like Gmail’s Priority Inbox, you’re always going to be the best judge of what’s important and what isn’t. All you need to do is create a filter that is designed to ignore important messages and leave them in the inbox, but move everything else into a secondary folder (or label, if you’re a Gmail user). This way only email senders you’ve designated as important will show up in your inbox and you can check the secondary folder when you have a bit more time. Whitelists have the disadvantage of being too strict, but since you’ll be checking both your primary and now secondary inbox you won’t have to worry too much about that. The filter isn’t set in stone, either, so you’ll be able to update it as needed until it’s working great for you.

Got any other great tricks for getting rid of unwanted mail without the hassle? Let us know in the comments!