Hello hello, it's another lovely Tuesday which means another day we get to meet and talk about mail! We've covered topics that are critical to never missing an important event, things like organizing addresses and dates, marking events in your chosen tools, and ideas on what those tools should be. Everything so far has gotten you to a point that maybe you've been at before. You know the dates, they're written down, but somehow they keep sneaking up on you and you don't realize it's someone's birthday until the day is upon you. Well today we fix that.
The number one thing I do that enables me to mail cards on time, every time, is plan ahead. That may sound vague, but going forward in this series I will break down how I plan ahead and the steps I take to ensure that little folded bit of happiness is stamped and mailed well in advance.
First, you need to remind yourself every month that you have events that need cards mailed. That is what this week is all about. You need to remind yourself with enough time factored in to get a card (if you don't have a back stock built up which I highly suggest and will talk more about next week), get everyone to sign it if you have more than just yourself involved, and get it mailed early enough to arrive on time. There are two ways to do this:
1. Do it annually | Similar to what you did for the past few weeks with event dates, addresses, and updating your calendars, this method requires you to sit down with the whole year in front of you and set up reminders for every event you want to have a card in the mail. The pro is that you have all your reminders set up at once and you don't have to question if your missing a birthday for 365 days (yes please!). The major con is that it doesn't allow for flexibility from month to month. For example, let's say you go through and automatically set a reminder in your phone for 5 days before every birthday. Then you go on vacation for a week and you're not reminded that your sister-in-law's birthday is the day you come home until you are on the trip - with no address, stamp, or card. Depending on where you are, cards and stamps can be purchased, and if you have a digitally accessible copy of your addresses that problem is solved even while on vacation. However, how much easier would it be to have the card purchased, written, stamped, and mailed before you left so you don't even need to think about it while relaxing on the beach? That's where the second method comes in...
2. Prep each month | This approach is what I prefer for it's flexibility from month to month. I also like that each month I sit down and get reacquainted with what's happening in the next four weeks. Compared to doing it all at once in the beginning of the year, I feel more on top of what I have going on and can schedule time to write and prep cards based on what I know for sure is my free time and availability. While you do need to carve out a few minutes each month to set up reminders, I feel like this process keeps you in touch and on top of your inventory, schedule, and time management.
If you're going with the one-stop-shop process get comfy, grab whatever gadgets you input your events into, and go through month by month setting up reminders. If you chose to use the calendar on your phone you can use the reminder system within that app or you can use the reminders app. If you use a task manager on your computer or phone, like Asana, add a reminder 5 - 7 days (or whatever amount of time works best for you) before the date you want to send a card. Are you a pen and paper type of person and are using a planner? Do exactly what you would do for an online task managing system, and simply write a reminder 5 - 7 days before and you'll be good to go!
If prepping your reminders each month sounds more like your cup of tea, you only have to set up 12 initial reminders. Grab whatever tool you're working with and at the end of each month - about 5 days before the end actually - write in "Prep Cards for Next Month" in your to-do list. Then when you're prompted at the end of the month, take a look at the next four weeks and see what anniversaries, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, or other celebrations you have coming up. Factoring in how much time you need beforehand, and where it fits in your schedule, write in "mail card to Hannah." Repeat this for all your dates that month.
It's tips and tricks time!
- Add the details | When you're writing in your reminders be sure to note who the card is for and what the occasion is. For example, rather than just writing "mail cards" you can put down "mail graduation cards to Joe and Macey."
- Check your gift list | This works primarily with the monthly reminder method. When you're setting up reminders each month that is also a perfect time to check your gift ideas list to see if you have already come up with something genius. Checking it early in the month should give you enough time to order a gift and also think of one if you need to.
- Check your inventory | Again, this works best when you're writing in reminders every month. As you're marking down birthday and anniversary reminders check your back stock of cards to make sure you have what you need for that month. If you know your inventory of cards you'll avoid that last minute rush for the overpriced, generic grocery store card.
Writing this process all out looks like a lot, but I can assure you it's really not that time consuming. Each month it will take you no more than 5 minutes to organize your mailing schedule, write it down, check your gift list, check your inventory, and then you're done. This whole process is about setting yourself up for success, efficiency, and ease for the rest of the year. A little bit of upfront work at the beginning of the year guarantees on-time cards for your friends and family without any last minute panic, over spending, or belated sentiments necessary. Can you beat that?!
If you have any questions on this process please shoot me a comment below; I would love to hear what process you use! Come back next week for a super fun discussion on all things cards and back stock. Who doesn't love a beautiful pile of cards at their fingertips?