3-Step Snail Mail: Scan, Shred, Schedule

In an era of instantaneous communication, snail mail sometimes seems a vestige of another time (thank goodness nobody is sending those AOL CDs anymore). But even if you pay bills online, you've still got to deal with a weekly pile up of real life mail in your real life inbox. We decided there had to be a better way for streamlining snail mail, so we set up something we call our digital mail station.

1. Shred

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Oh, you mean you didn't want 4,000 credit card offers (aka potential identity thefts)? You need to shred those puppies pronto. A cross shredder makes all those generous offers to extend you credit at rates bordering on loan sharking into confetti. It's also a good idea to get one that can handle the harder stuff like CDs and plastic, that way anything that makes it through the mail slot is toast.

We like ones like the Aurora AS1018CD ($66.77) or the Fellowes Powershred ($179). The Powershred is pricey, but eats almost anything and doesn't jam, which is our only issue with most shredders. Sure they make scarier noises than an unmuffled chainsaw, but that's half the fun and no goggles required. If you don't get the Fellowes or a similar no-jam system, be sure to empty it regularly to ensure the device doesn't overheat or get clogged.

2. Scan

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Once we've taken care of all the meddlesome junk, we usually have a couple things that we really do need to keep. Of those there's often a document or two that could go into our paperless system for future reference, so we're going to keep a scanner tucked away as well. As our entryway is small, the more minimal the scanner, the better. Full color is also a welcome option.

We're looking at the Scansnap and Brother lines. The Scansnap 1300 ($256.98) is a full color, one button scanner with excellent OCR capabilities. The Brother DS700D ($186.47) has similar features at a slightly more palatable price point. The nice thing about both of these is we can take these on the road when we're not at home.

3. Schedule

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The last few things we've got need to go on our calendar for payment dates and important events like parties and such. For the most part we keep our schedule in the cloud using a combo of Google Calendar and iCal so a little space dedicated to the digital is important. A dock for our iPhone and a charger for our Macbook Pro will go a long way, but plugs are at a premium so we'll probably get the Plugbug ($34.95) from Twelvesouth. And since we're doing away with tons of paper, we might as well upcycle some of that junk mail into a nice paper iPhone dock.

And if you don't want to take the time to do it yourself, you can have My US Post Office do it for you ($99).

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(Image: 1 My US Post Office, 2 - 4 as linked above)

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