Do you send birthday cards to family and friends? If you're like many, you say, "No, I just say 'Happy Birthday' on Facebook and let that be it." In fact, a 2015 article from the Huffington Post argued in favor of getting rid of all greeting cards. On the other hand, a 2019 article from NPR says that greeting card sales, especially for fancier ones, are holding steady, and that millennials are to thank.
If others have stopped sending cards, that's one more good reason for you to do the opposite. On that special day, yours just may be the only card in the mailbox. So why is it so many people don't send cards?
It's too much trouble
Sending birthday cards means writing all those birthdays on your calendar and then re-writing them on the new calendar every year. Sure, you have a list of co-workers' birthdays thumbtacked to a bulletin board behind your desk. Like everything else attached to a bulletin board for you to see all the time, it blends into the background. It might as well not be there.
If you have the birthdays appear as yearly repeats on your digital calendar, the job is easier. But it still means you're always scanning the calendar for whose birthday is coming up. You're constantly planning that trip to the store to select one card. When you get home, you have to look up the address.
Multiply the time spent by the number of cards you would send during the year. That's why many people find the whole process too cumbersome.
But it doesn't have to be
Save yourself tons of time with a technique called "batching." If you were baking cookies, you would prepare several dozen at one time, right? It's just as easy to make the whole batch as it is to make one cookie. The same idea works for many projects.
1. Make a list of everyone to whom you send birthday or anniversary cards during the year. Include family, co-workers and close friends. Compose the list on a spreadsheet. Let the columns be as follows: name, birthday/anniversary date, address, city, state, and zip.
2. Toward the end of the year, print the spreadsheet. Make one trip to a card shop and buy for everyone on the list.
3. Use the spreadsheet to do a quick mail merge and print all the labels. While you're at it, you can center the text on the labels, choose a nice font, and make the labels look really nice.
4. Apply the labels to all the envelopes. No more looking up one address at a time all during the year.
5. Put return address stickers on all the envelopes.
6. Sign all the cards and seal all the envelopes. If you want to wait until the day the card goes in the mail to write a personal note, that's fine, too.
7. Where the postage stamp will go, pencil the date the card needs to go in the mail to arrive on time. You have all the dates on your spreadsheet.
8. Drop all the cards in your Tickler File.
You're done! You could even watch television while stuffing envelopes and applying stickers.
You'll finish the job before the TV program is over.
Each card will resurface on the day it needs to go in the mail. All you did was make one trip to the card shop and spend one session assembling the cards.
What's easy gets done
We are creatures who follow the path of least resistance. With so much going on in our lives, worthy acts go undone when they are difficult, ambiguous, time-consuming, or all the above. A good system can make hard things easy and turn ambiguity into clarity.
As you send more cards, people see you as being more thoughtful. But thoughtfulness was never the problem; forgetfulness was. By being a little more organized, you come across as being a lot more thoughtful.
This one is too easy not to do. Make your list. Assemble the cards. Let the Tickler File handle it from there.
Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. “Global Gurus Top 30” named him #1 in the Time Management category for 2019. Dr. Buck speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach him through his website: FrankBuck.org. Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.