I grew up with parents very diligent about keeping good records. A hard copy or paper home filing system was imperative. I remember it clearly. Toward the end of each year, my mom would prepare her filing cabinet for the new year to come. She would make folders for anything new from the prior year. She kept anything that she could ever possibly need to refer back to precisely filed away for safe keeping.
When I left home, I took that philosophy but not the discipline. I kept everything, but I didn’t keep it neatly filed away. I ended up with stacks of papers everywhere. I was overwhelmed by paper clutter. Annually, I would box up those stacks and vow to implement a new and better approach the next year… To no surprise that never happened.
I knew it was crucial to keep good records and to have a method of organizing paperwork, but I just hadn’t found a solution that worked for me. I needed an approach that was simple to keep up with…Something that worked well with my daily routine.
Then I had that “ah-ha” moment a couple of years ago. I thought to myself, “how can I be free of all this paper but still be able to reference anything I need, easily?”
My solution was a portable hard drive.
I scan in all papers and information that are worth holding onto BUT are also ok to be trashed or shredded afterward. I only scan (then dispose of) things that are ok to be reprinted if needed later. Of course, I still have a few paper files to hold items that are one of a kind and must be originals, (birth certificates, marriage license, etc.) After I scan something in, I either trash it or shred it depending on the sensitivity.
It is the ideal solution on how to clear paper clutter fast
I have a file structure set up on the drive, and I drop the pdf into the appropriate folder for easy locating for future reference. Fair warning, I tend to be file folder heavy because I can navigate to documents easier and quicker that way. I would rather not look through a super long list of files to locate something specific. The good news is your documents can be organized on your drive in whatever fashion makes sense to you!
Here is an example of how I have my home filing system setup:
If you do not have access to a scanner, you can pick one up for under a hundred bucks online. Or there are even some apps that will use your phone’s camera to create PDFs of your papers. You can then email them to yourself to save to a hard drive, or you could save them to a cloud platform. Using an app and cloud storage seems to be a cost-effective method to get this system underway.
The app and cloud method may become a little trickier when you have more pages you need to scan such as an insurance policy or some other large document. You also may reach a point in which you need to buy additional storage. You must weigh the convenience of the app and cloud method to the one-time cost to purchase a scanner and portable hard drive.
I choose the portable hard drive method because it is with me all the time. I have the peace of mind that all the information I am holding onto (because it is so important) doesn’t just exist on “the cloud.” I am just most comfortable with this approach. You are probably without a doubt more tech-savvy than me so if you are comfortable with that approach go for it! You can get started today!
Whichever method works best for you, one thing is for sure…It will do away with the excess paper once and for all. My passion is to share with you the approaches, methods, and systems that I depend upon daily to calm the chaos. This is one I could not live without!
I hope you can take this paper management approach and make it your own…The best way to work for your daily routine! Say goodbye to paper clutter and hello to clean clear spaces!
Have you used apps and cloud storage to cut down on paper? If so, which ones? How do you feel about using a portable hard drive to store everything?
Leave your comments below!
If you are in the clutter clearing mood, check out this post about whole household decluttering!
Cut down on general household clutter with a control center, it’s a game changer.