|

Declutter Paper | Tips To Living (almost) Paperless

There is no longer much need to keep hard copies of piles of papers, bills, and receipts. Almost every account we have now can be set up and easily accessed online. It is more the anomaly not to have electronic billing and payment systems offered to us and encouraged. This makes going paperless very easy.

Some people are reluctant to go paperless because they don’t know what to do with their important papers like tax documents, utility bills, old bank statements, and the list goes on. Some feel electronic filing systems are less safe.

You can easily receive and pay your bills online with a few clicks. If you are afraid you may forget to pay bills because you are not seeing the paper bill each month, go into each account and set up automatic notification systems. This is pretty easy.

Businesses want us to go paperless so they make it super easy to set this up. If you have trouble contact the help desk.

We all know it is good for the environment to reduce paper products and a paperless lifestyle is better for our carbon footprint.

Papers everywhere!

Don’t worry about the mess of papers you have now. For now, let that go. Why? Because this will probably overwhelm you and when you are overwhelmed it is easier to procrastinate. The old papers will be there when you are in the mood to tackle them. For today we are going to start new.

Paperless made simple

A lot of paperwork is redundant and unwanted as is evidenced by my overflowing paper recycling bag. It feels never-ending!

If you are just leaving the stone age now and beginning the paperless journey take your time getting there. Do one moving part at a time.

For instance spend one day signing up for paperless billing and setting up each account the way that works best for you. You can set up notification systems to help you remember to pay bills in a timely manner.

I will list some of the most practical and helpful tips to get you started on your journey of an almost paperless lifestyle.

image of the sky as blue background with white clouds. A hand is holding a cell phone horizontal to cloud and images of padlocks suggest cloud storage safety

Embrace the digital age!

People dislike change so some have been slower to adapt to the going paperless age we are in. The advent of smartphones has ushered in an era where many aspects of our lives are just a tap away.

I don’t even call my phone a phone anymore, because I use my phone more as a handheld computer than as a telephone.

All of our data can be easily synched across all our electronics in the cloud for example. Cloud storage is pretty cheap. Leveraging your phone for managing documents is a great way to minimize paper clutter.

Most people carry their phones with them everywhere, so your phone is a great place to store everything you may need at any given time.

Is storing important documents electronically safe? 

The best way for me to store digital files is in my local folders and the cloud. Additionally I store all my business-related images, which is my artwork, on an external hard drive. 

This is simply my personal preference. You will find what works best for you after you get started. Don’t overthink this. By just starting you will find your plan unfolds in the way that makes the most sense to you. A quick Google search will answer any questions you may have along the way.

Some people find it convenient and secure to scan all their family photos and store these files in a digital filing cabinet or an external hard drive.

Create a Centralized Digital Space for Important Documents

Gone are the days of rifling through drawers in search of important documents. Instead, designate a specific place on your phone or computer to store crucial files. This can be as simple as labeling folders or you can use a digital vault.

A digital vault is an online security vault. Just like we may keep cash or our valuable treasures inside a home safe or safety box at our bank, a digital vault is an online safe for your digital documents. These digital vaults keep important information in the digital realm secure.

A digital vault can include scanned copies of legal documents, insurance paperwork, and other important files that you need to keep on hand. Some vaults are free and some come with an affordable fee, sometimes under 10. a month.

Scan Documents for a Paperless Future

You can either invest in a good scanner to convert physical documents into digital format or download an app to your phone and devices that will scan documents for you.

This is particularly useful for paperwork that tends to accumulate, such as medical bills or utility statements, although neither these days are necessary to keep because medical facilities and utility companies have online portals storing all our transactions for us to easily view.

Scanning documents not only reduces physical clutter but also provides a secure backup in case of loss or damage.

Free Scan Apps to Utilize

Free Scan apps are available for Android phones and Apple’s iPhones.

For Android users download a Genius Scan

iPhone users can simply use the Notes App that comes with your Apple products.

There are many more scanning apps available.

Take advantage of online portals

Utility companies, medical facilities, and insurance companies all provide portals for us to utilize, which makes accessing our information from anywhere extremely convenient. The other plus is you don’t need to scan and file stuff.

picture of a flat bed scanner

Organize Files with Keywords for Quick Retrieval

When storing digital documents, use descriptive keywords related to the content. For example, tag files with terms like “tax,” “insurance,” or “medical bills” to make it easy to locate specific documents when needed.

This simple organizational strategy will save you valuable time and reduce the stress associated with digging through piles of paperwork.

As I mentioned take advantage and familiarize yourself with your utility websites. This is a much more efficient way to feel organized because all your activity is stored for you to easily access with a couple of keyboard strokes.

Medical records are stored in Patient Portals and are very easy to access. This is great if while visiting one doc you need to share information with another doc. You can easily access this valuable information with your phone. 

a pile of mail - snail mail- delivered by USPS

Set a Routine for Handling Mail 

The first step is to get off junk mail lists. Mail often contributes significantly to paper clutter.

Establish a routine for sorting through your mail, promptly discarding unnecessary items, and scanning or filing important documents. By dealing with mail regularly, you prevent it from piling up and becoming a source of stress.

If you still receive hard-copy bills in the mail you can at least stop the flow of incoming papers at the source, which is your delivered mail. The first thing to do when the mail comes into the house is to toss junk mail directly into the recycling bin.

Open anything that looks important and get rid of anything extraneous. Put the papers you are keeping in their proper place. This will reduce some of the pile of papers in your home.

Opt for Electronic Statements and Bills

Most service providers offer electronic statements and bills. Take advantage of this option to minimize the influx of physical paperwork. Setting up electronic delivery for utility bills, bank statements, and other recurring documents not only reduces paper clutter but is also an eco-friendly choice.

As I said we don’t need hard copies of our utility bills and credit card statements, because they are all electronically at our fingertips. We can easily access this information by logging into the service provider’s website. It takes a minute or 2 to open and set up accounts. 

If you are afraid you will forget to pay a bill on time you can easily set up notification systems.

It has been a very long time since I have seen a hard copy medical bill or bank statements.

Safeguard Important Legal Documents

Many folks resist digitizing insurance documents. If you suffer a fire or natural disaster in your home you will have access to your records much easier than if your only copy of your important documents have been defaced.

Legal documents, such as contracts and property records, are often irreplaceable. Ensure their safety by storing digital copies in a secure cloud service or digital vault. This adds an extra layer of protection against physical damage, loss, or unforeseen disasters.

A hand holding a pen signing a doc held by an original looking brown  clipboard.

Tackle Tax Season with Digital Efficiency

Tax season can be particularly challenging when dealing with stacks of paper. Streamline the process by maintaining a digital file for tax-related documents throughout the year. When tax season arrives, you’ll have all the necessary paperwork at your fingertips, making the process smoother and more efficient.

A Paperless Path to Organization

If having less paper around you is your goal embracing digital solutions and incorporating good habits into your daily routine is the way to go.

Embrace the paperless path to organization and enjoy the freedom of a clutter-free living space.

Shred Unnecessary Physical Documents Securely

As you transition to a paperless lifestyle, it’s essential to responsibly dispose of unnecessary physical documents.

Invest in a good shredder to securely dispose of sensitive information like old bills or documents containing personal details. Alternately UPS offers shredding services for a reasonable price.

This not only declutters your space but also protects your privacy.

A paper being fed into a shredder and the drawer of shedder opened - showing paper shredded

Archive Old Files in the Cloud

While it’s crucial to declutter, certain documents, like past tax returns or significant life events, hold sentimental or historical value. Instead of letting them take up physical space, archive these files digitally in the cloud.

Cloud storage services offer ample space and accessibility, while keeping your memories safe, all for a very low cost.

Educate Yourself on Digital Security

Living in a digital world requires an understanding of digital security. Familiarize yourself with encryption methods, secure password practices, and two-factor authentication to safeguard your digital documents.

A good understanding of digital security ensures that your important files remain confidential and protected.

Share and Collaborate Effortlessly

Digital documents allow for seamless sharing and collaboration. Whether you’re working on a project or sharing important family documents, the ease of collaboration in the digital realm is unparalleled.

Use collaboration features in cloud storage platforms, like Dropbox and Google Docs & Sheets to work collectively on documents without the need for physical copies.

image of 4 people looking on a telephone at presumably an image saved to the cloud.

Regularly Review and Purge Digital Files

Digital clutter can accumulate just as easily as physical clutter. Set aside time periodically to review and purge unnecessary digital files. Deleting redundant or obsolete documents not only keeps your digital space organized but also enhances the efficiency of your electronic filing system.

Inspire Others to Join the Paperless Movement

Share your success in decluttering paper with friends and family. Encourage them to embrace a paperless lifestyle as well. The more individuals adopt digital practices, the greater the positive impact on the environment, as well as personal organization and efficiency.

Final Thoughts: A Paperless Future

Living (mostly) paperless is not just a modern convenience; it’s a step towards a more sustainable and organized future. By incorporating these tips into your daily life, you can free yourself from the shackles of paper clutter, reduce environmental impact, and enjoy the benefits of a seamlessly organized digital space.

Embrace the paperless revolution, and you’ll find that the path to a clutter-free, 

pic of author

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed! We will have a few laughs too!

To see more articles like this, please like and follow me. Thank you!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *