by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Treat digital documents like paper ones and file them in an appropriately labeled folder.
Me? Nope, I’m tactile and I like paper. However, I have limited the amount of paper I keep in my files. I have a single file box for personal and home reference materials and a fire-resistant box for important documents. I also have a desktop file holder for current projects because I find that I work better with a printed document than reading the words on my computer screen.
I meet a lot of people who grew up with paper and slowly transitioned to online banking and bill paying yet still print out copies of statements and bills they can get copies of online. Instead, if you want a backup, save the document to your computer, in an appropriately labeled folder (say, “2019 Electric Bills).
If you are overwhelmed by physical paper, this action can save you money on paper, ink, and the time it takes to print and file these bills and statements.
Going paperless is less about your goal of eliminating paper from your house and more about your systems for labeling files, organizing documents, scanning papers, and retrieving what you want when you need it.
Manipulating your digital information should come easy for you. For example, you
Keeping Important Papers
I remember gasping (loudly) when someone said they’d shredded their divorce decree as part of their paper decluttering efforts. I’m sure, if they need one, they can get another. However, I think that even if you go paperless, keeping important documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, the title to your car, death certificates, etc. in their original paper format is a wise move.
Yes, you can get a new copy if you need one, but this hassle can create delays in completing any task that requires these documents – particularly if you live in a different state than the one that issued the original.
I know there are people who want to be 100-percent paperless and even their original birth certificate is an affront to that goal. Telling you to keep these papers is my opinion so talk to your lawyer or financial advisor before shredding documents that mark major life events.
Is Going Paperless Right for You?
Although we were told that computers were going to eliminate the need for paper, that obviously hasn’t happened, and it won’t be happening anytime soon. Consider why going paperless is the best option for your life (maybe you travel a lot and want access to all your files, you move frequently, or you live in an RV or tiny home that doesn’t have space for paper storage).
You can greatly reduce your reliance on paper reference materials by going digital – just remember that even digital information needs to be decluttered and organized.
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Susan, chief (and only) organized squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life, pursues learning, practicing, and sharing information about the everyday habits that can lead to living a better life.