We did a fun presentation for an audience at the beautiful Windsor Meade community in Williamsburg this week on reducing stress. Our “prescription” wasn't medicinal, it suggested decluttering your home, getting control of paper around the house and being more intentional with your time. I'll likely cover some or all of these in future posts but wanted to zero in on some of the questions and challenges we heard from the participants at this event.
The most emphatic questions posed by the audience had to do with junk mail, unsolicited calls and requests for donations. We were able to provide some tips but these questions inspired me to do some additional research. There are some great sites out there that cover each of the topics, but that means a lot of searching and reading to get the full picture. So, as I often do, let me share what I learned, to save you the time and trouble. Let's call it a “5 step” program!
Before I start, let me say that there isn’t really any way to stop 100% of you might want to prevent in terms of mail and calls, but there are some quick and easy things you can do to greatly reduce the inflow (80-95%). They are all free unless noted otherwise.
1. Stop Unwanted Calls - Get on the “do not call” registry. This only works on your personal landline and cell phones, not at work. Simply call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to impact or visit donotcall.gov and confirm your request when they email you in response. Once it’s set up, it stay in effect until you request otherwise or the line is disconnected.
2. Stop Unwanted Mail – Visit dmachoice.org to get off most mailing lists. This will stop mailings, catalogs and some charitable solicitations. This won’t impact mail from companies you are already doing business with, if you prefer. It can take up to 90 days to take full effect. I'll also be listing some other sites that can help with this below, but DMAChoice is the primary site to visit and will prevent the majority of junk mail. To prevent even more mail, opt out via to sites listed later in this post.
3. Stop Unwanted Credit Solicitations – Call 1-888-567-8688 or visit optoutscreen.com. You'll have to option to opt out for either five years or permanently. For cards you already have, ask those companies to put you on their “in-house” list so that your information is not shared.
5. Stop Unwanted Charitable Solicitation Calls and Mail – this is the most difficult to prevent but there are some things you can do. Make larger donation to fewer organizations versus many small donations. Ask organizations that you donate to “opt out” and not sell or rent your information. Registering on the dmachoice.org site (above) will reduce the solicitation mail. Calls are the toughest to stop, but when you do get a call, simply use the script below to impact future calls :
“Hello, I appreciate the work you’re doing, and I realize it’s your job but I’d rather not get these calls. Please put me on your Do Not Call list. Also, does your organization make calls for any other charities? Yes, please put me on those Do Not Call lists as well. Your floor manager has a form you can fill in to remove me from all the databases, and I’m happy to wait on the phone while you do it. Thank you.”
The five steps above won't stop everything, but will go a long way toward greatly reducingclutter before it ever crosses your threshold.
As promised, here are some additional sites to control junk mail :
1. Visit catalogchoice.org to stop catalogues from coming that you don't want. You can also sign up to receive catalogues you do want.
2. Visit directmail.com to opt out on their site
3. Stop those thick Valpak envelopes by visitingvalpak.com or call 1-727-399-3000
One more thought I'll share based on the research I did. Beyond stopping the solicitation for donations, you may want to do some research on charities you do want to help. It can be very enlightening to visit sites like charitynavigator.org or give.org to research the reputation of the charity and understand how they use your donations. Charities vary wildly in terms of how they spend the money they receive and just how much ends up helping the cause.
Anyhow … I hope this helps!