Paper is one of the things that clutter not only my living space but my mind too. How many times I thought I would have gone crazy pulling my hair out looking everywhere for a piece of important document . How much precious time is spent each time I have to fumble through piles of papers to look for one warranty card. How many times have I said ” I thought I kept it there but it is not there now..!” The stress that ensues following futile attempts at localising one piece of paper could be tremendous. People around you might be affected and worked up by you too.
In the process of decluttering, I found a system to organise papers.
- Stop all incoming papers: It might seem like a daunting task looking at all those papers accumulated over the years and thinking of the ways to organise them. I didn’t attempt to deal with these papers straight away. I first stop all incoming papers.
I try as far as possible not to bring home pamphlets, booklets, brochures etc.
Sign up for online bills and e-statements for credit cards, utilities , phone bills and kinds.
Unsubscribed to junk mails.
I do not buy physical books or magazines. Read newspapers and magazines online. Online versions are now widely available.
If some papers do get into my house, I put them all at one designated place, like an ‘inbox’ and sort them out weekly. No more small piles of paper all over the counters.
- Digital filing cabinets: Evernote is my ultimate digital filing solution. A lot has been written about Evernote and I am not going into details. I can assure you that it is easy to use and once you get the hang of it, you will get on a roll and you will know what is best for you. I create ‘inbox’ where I just dump everything in and sort every piece at a later date. I scan all receipts and documents using mobile phone with the scan apps scanbot and save the documents in Evernote and backup in google drive , iCloud and external drive. I am okay saving my semiprivate information online. You may opt for something else. As I am to minimise things I own, I try to make do with what I have. I have not needed expensive physical scanners. The mobile app can do just as well for me. I can just scan anything anywhere anytime save them directly in Evernote. If you have a home office with really rooms full of papers, then maybe a good scanner is a good investment for you.
I categorise my documents into sections as notebooks. Evernote is a reliable cloud-based tool which has multiple organisational options, search capabilities and all your files are safely stored . With good tags, I can access all my files anytime anywhere in the world across any devices. Evernote can store just about any files, photos, pictures , webpages, word, pdf, you name it. I can even keep recipes books and write books on Evernote. Awesome.
- Digital planners and diary: I used to have all different kinds of pretty notebooks to write journals. Another planner calendar books. Talking about saving papers, I have passed the age of sticking nice cute stickers on the diary pages. I now use calendars on my mobile phone and write journals on app. These are accessible all the time and not to mention how much less weight you have to carry with all those books in your bag. Your indispensable gadget would send you gentle reminders too! Never to worry again that someone would be peeping through your diary at home!
- Now, the great purge: Now that I have decided to refuse papers messing with my life and I have a great digital filing system in place. It is time to purge the backlog. Be realistic, there is no way one can declutter all the papers in one session. I attack one reasonable pile at a time. Sort them in 3 piles: 1. Recycle -this pile goes to the recycle bins where they are basically thrown away. 2. Scan and then recycle– this pile of papers are to be scanned and saved in evernote and then send to recycle bin. 3. Keep– please don’t throw away your marriage/.. or divorce certificates, birth certificates, car grants, degrees… Repeat the process every few days, every session is a progress and eventually I hope to reach my dream goal– a paperless home!…Or maybe near paperless as my kids are still using textbooks and A4 papers in school.