Decluttering Paper

I’ve been decluttering for a while now. I call it “being on my road to minimalism”. 10 years ago I had not only 3000 square feet of house crammed with things but also a store and warehouse. I had a lot of stuff.

Now I have a capsule wardrobe (this is an old video, I’ve now had a capsule wardrobe for more than three years)

and my tiny kitchen is under control… mostly.

The challenge remaining is paper. Maybe you have this issue too.

I have several categories of paper to deal with. Having my own business means I have boxes and boxes of tax records, at least seven, one for each year that tax records need to be kept.

Then I have my journals. I’ve been journaling since high school. I’ve filled books with some of the most heartfelt and boring prose ever written. This stuff is so boring I can’t even be bothered to reread it…and it’s about me. But I’m also finding it hard to let go.

And then there’s all the rest of the paper. Credit card offers come in the mail almost daily. I have handouts from lectures I found interesting which I saved thinking I would reread some day. I have catalogs, warranty info, and articles torn out of magazines.

So to begin I grab a box of miscellaneous paper and I do a quick sort into three boxes. SCAN, SHRED, and TOSS. Clippings can be SCANned. Credit card offers go into the SHRED box. And the rest, like catalogs and product instructions, go in the TOSS box (all that stuff is online now).

For scanning I have both my Canon printer which can do stacks of paper and then for odd sizes I have my Doxie portable scanner. The trick/trouble with scanning is if you don’t label it properly you’ll never find it again. I try to do scanning and labeling in one session so I have it fresh in my mind what it was I’ve scanned.

Scanned materials are sorted by category into different folders. And everything is backed up into the cloud using the offsite backup service Carbonite. Interesting side note: I got Carbonite a few years ago and backed up my entire computer. It took days. Three days after it finished the backup my entire system crashed. The hard drive was toast including a book I was working on that was 90% completed. I didn’t lose any data. As soon as my new computer arrived I downloaded all the data. Good as new.

For my journals I’ve decided to slowly deconstruct them, tearing out the pages and scanning them into a PDF book. The Doxie scanner has a feature to “staple” the pages together. Now if I suddenly have the urge to know what I was doing 20 years ago I can open up the “book” and read to my heart’s content.

My goal is to eventually digitize all the tax records as well, starting with the most recent years and working backwards. It’s quite a job so I haven’t brought myself to it yet. Many people do this while they’re watching TV but I don’t have a TV – though I could binge on YouTube tiny house videos I suppose. I’ll have to put that in my calendar.

Let me know what you’re doing about the paper clutter in your life. Leave me a comment in the comment section below.

About Donna Stellhorn

Donna Stellhorn helps people read the map of their future, gain deep insight into who they are and helps them create personal spaces that support their goals.
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