7 Genius Ways to Save Time at the Post Office
There's no need to waste precious minutes the next time you're shipping a package.
Even though technology has made errands like running to the bank a less frequent necessity, the post office remains one service that requires in-person trips. Unfortunately, no matter if you're stopping in to pick up stamps or send off a few packages, the entire process can sometimes take a lot longer than you'd hope. But if you're looking to keep things brief, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind to expedite your next visit. Read on for the genius ways to save time at the post office, according to the USPS.
Address your packages correctly
Everyone knows that the most important part of dropping a letter or parcel in the mail requires having all the necessary information on the envelope or box. However, you may end up wasting time at the post office if you do it incorrectly, a spokesperson for the USPS told Best Life in an email.
Besides printing addresses clearly, it's also important to remember to put the "to" and "from" information on only one side of any package. The agency also stresses that having no zip code on an item is actually better than guessing and writing the wrong zip code. If you're unsure, you can use the Quick Tools section of the USPS website to look up the information.
Use online services to print labels, pay, or schedule a pickup
Even though you're physically sending a package, you can still save yourself a trip to the post office using your phone or laptop. Experts suggest using the Click-N-Ship feature on its website, which allows customers to order free Priority Mail boxes, print shipping labels, pay for postage, and request a next-day package pickup at any time.
"Typically, there's a large bin where you can drop pre-packaged and pre-paid shipping items, so you won't even have to wait in line," says consumer expert Andrea Woroch. "But just remember you will need accurate measurements and weight for the item when paying for postage online."
Try to use boxes provided by USPS
Sometimes, the most challenging part about shipping an item is finding the right packaging to send it in. But according to the USPS, it's probably best to use the free flat-rate boxes it provides customers. Otherwise, you might find yourself having to take the time to repack everything at the post office.
But don't try to shave off too many minutes: The agency warns that reusing mailing boxes is a bad idea since they weaken during the shipping process. Pick yourself up a fresh one instead—even if that means taking a few home with you to pack ahead of time.
Take advantage of kiosks
Lines can get pretty long at the post office when you're waiting to speak with an associate. Fortunately, you can move things along by using a self-service kiosk to complete your tasks, including buying stamps, weighing packages, and printing shipping labels.
The best part? Many of them are even accessible 24/7. Customers can also use the USPS website to locate their nearest kiosk if they need service right away.
But if you're planning on sending out any items, make sure you come prepared: Even though they provide free boxes, the agency says you'll still need packaging tape to seal everything up for larger items.
Print your labels and pack everything at home.
Stamps may have been in use for centuries, but there are still some limitations to what they can do for your parcels and letters. The agency warns that any "mail and packages weighing more than 10 ounces and/or more than a half-inch thick cannot be dropped into a collection box or left for a carrier to pick up if you're using stamps for postage."
Before you end up with a "return to sender" situation and wasting precious stamps, the agency suggests taking the package to an associate to have it weighed and paid for correctly.
Use an office supply store location
Your closest available access to USPS shipping might not actually be your post office. According to Woroch, some office supply stores like Office Depot can help you save time and even provide longer hours than traditional branches.
"These stores have shipping centers that ship via USPS and generally have shorter lines—or at least as long as you don't go during the after-work rush hour," she tells Best Life. "Plus, in my experience, they don't charge me to use their shipping tape to finish packaging a package like USPS does!"
Fill out all necessary forms ahead of time
Sending items internationally always takes a little extra time and effort. Usually, this involves filling out paperwork before sending things on their way. But thanks to the USPS website, you can fill out the required customs declaration right from home so everything is ready when it comes time to ship it off.
The site also includes information on what can be shipped to specific countries. And once you're done, the agency says you can often even save yourself a trip to the post office by requesting a pickup online.
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