LEAVE IT to postal officials to come up with a letter-perfect solution to a problem: they've solved a nagging mail collection dilemma with a nifty bit of time management. The trouble spots are right here in the capital city, in the form of 79 mailboxes that offer "night owl service": collections up to 6:30 p.m. According to officials, this extended service has been backing up mail handling in the District, thereby causing mail to miss flights out of National Airport. The best way to move this mail on time? They're doing away with the service, effective next Wednesday.

"We want to make sure we can meet our standards," explained a spokesman for the post office. "Mail has to be in here and we have to be able to work it by a certain time in the evening. If you have a 6:30 pickup and the mail doesn't get here until 7:30 or 8 o'clock, we just don't have time to work on it." Postal Service standards, after all, call for mail within the metropolitan area to be delivered -- now promise not to laugh -- the day after it is mailed.

Surely smart executives everywhere will latch on to this brilliantly frontal approach to efficiency: if there's not enough time to get something done on time, drop the task and keep your standards up. With some serious follow-through, you may be able to reduce a whole day's agenda into one 60-second task, thereby completing a week's work -- everything you set out to do -- within five minutes, at 100 percent efficiency.

For further timely tips on crisis management, burial rites for dead letters or commemorative stamps of approval, send a self-addressed envelope to yourself, preferably before 5 p.m.