Paper Clutter: Going Digital and Getting Organized
With spring’s welcome arrival (and here in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, it’s REALLY welcome!) comes the nearly universal urge to clean and declutter. While most of us focus this spring cleaning fervor on clearing out storage areas like closets, drawers and cupboards, another gratifying way to organize life and get rid of paper clutter is to systematically digitize it.
In recent years, cloud technology and a variety of popular digital applications have provided new and efficient ways to conquer the never-ending piles of photos, bills, receipts, recipes, health and education records, financial statements, home and vehicle maintenance documents, appointment reminders, and the rest of the constant stream of paperwork that enters our lives on a daily basis. Keeping track of all this family and household information is one of the most important parts of managing your household and taking care of your family, and if you’re already a fan of online banking and bill-paying, taking advantage of these helpful apps is just one more step along the path of getting organized.
One of the easiest ways to digitize your paper documents is to get a good duplex copier/printer/scanner with at least a 25 sheet feeder. However, if you have a smartphone and you don’t want to invest money in a scanner, a wonderfully inexpensive (read FREE!) alternative is to download CamScanner by Instig. This free iPhone and Android app uses your phone’s camera to give you a fully working scanner, complete with anti-shaking and intelligent scene recognition so you can capture amazingly sharp images and archive them as PDF files, then email them wherever you need them.
To stay on top of the inevitable paper creep, scan papers as soon as they come in, and then, with some exceptions, shred them immediately after scanning. While it’s good practice to digitize documents and paperwork for better organization and productivity, there are some documents that you must be able to easily retrieve if you need them. Scan these documents and then store them safely in a fireproof, waterproof lockbox:
- Birth certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Marriage/divorce papers
- Military discharges
- Vehicle title and registration
- Property titles
- Loan paperwork
- Investment records
- Tax Returns
- Warranties and big-ticket purchase receipts
While it may seem daunting at first to move to a digital way of life, just take it in small steps. Make a plan, just like you would with any project, and tackle it in small pieces. Start by outlining what you want to digitize, then, on a regular weekly or daily basis, set aside a few minutes to scan and file the documents in a secure location that you can access quickly and easily. In no time, your paperwork backlog with be neatly digitized, and all you’ll have to focus on going forward is the new paperwork coming into your life.
How do you organize and store your important documents? What programs do you use to digitize your paperwork?
Photo courtesy: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
AboutOne.com is an online family management system that provides ONE place to safely store and manage memories and household information, including education, health, possession, contact records and more. It then makes that information work for you by auto-magically producing family newsletters, hard copy photo memory books, paper greeting cards that mail themselves, college application info summaries, caregiver instructions, home and vehicle maintenance summaries, and capital gains reports.
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