I have a few more days off before I return to work, so I am decluttering my house. I think for most people the biggest clutter problem is paperwork. It invades our lives from all angles, arriving in the mail, from work, from friends, from family members, from the doctor, baker, and candlestick maker too...
It is now 2014. My biggest personal printing expense is replacing dried out inkjet cartridges because I never print anything. Yet I can't believe how much paperwork I STILL have and/or is STILL generated on my behalf just because I'm walking the Earth and breathing its air! Some days I feel like I need a bullwhip to tame this tiger, but in actuality I'm not really doing a bad job...
Improvements I have made over the years:
* most of my bills now come paperless. I don't keep banking information or canceled checks for very long.
* Periodicals: I have drastically cut back on my hardcopy magazine buying. The most important ones to me come via my iPad store or Nook/Kindle. Also, I just changed my 6-day per week newspaper subscription to "online with 1 weekly hardcopy". I must be one of the last holdouts in the US who still reads a physical newspaper, but I've been accessing it online most days for the last three years, so now was the time to cut back on the paper itself.
* My mortgage statement finally comes paperless now. This was the last paper bill holdout and electronic delivery just wasn't available until sometime in 2013.
* Anytime I buy a new device or appliance, I look for the owner's manuals and user guides online. If I find them in PDF format, I'll download and stick them in my Dropbox folder for later use on a computer or my iPad.
* I "opt out" from junk mailings whenever and wherever possible.
* During 2013, I reduced my "book library" wallspace needs by about 50%. My goal is to be able to one day fit all of my books into the "facing space" of a cabinet or bookshelf no more than 4' X 4' or at most, 6' X 6' feet. This is a big challenge for an avid reader such as myself, but it may one day be possible because most of my new purchases in the last three years have been eBooks and because many of my old books are technical in nature and eventually get swapped out as times change, technologies improve, and software gets updated. Other than high school yearbooks and a couple boxes of graphic novels, I hold no bound volumes of heirloom or sentimental value. Thankfully, my parents got rid of the old Funk & Wagnal Encyclopedia set that helped me get through high school in fine form!
Here are some the things that I can't seem to improve upon:
* Doctor receipts, insurance invoices, and "this is not a bill" notices.
* Car repair receipts and invoices.
* ATM and gas station slips (I always opt to print these but almost never need to review them, and end up shredding them within a couple months.
* Cruft that just comes unsolicited in spite of my best efforts to limit them.
* Certifications and "official" paperwork. Not much I can do about these.
* Most devices come with paper manuals, which I can't seem to let go of, even though I do the PDF/Dropbox thingie noted above.
The paperwork that I do get/receive is increasingly becoming difficult to categorize and decide how to preserve. Five years ago I thought about scanning stuff, but then what to do with the originals? Can't really feel good about shredding them, so the only thing to do is keep them...and that requires storage space. So why bother scanning them then?
So for the time being, I think I will still need to keep a couple of file cabinets, just to keep the paper tiger from becoming a fire hazard.
What are your clutter frustrations?
Is the paper tiger really fierce in your family?
Have you discovered anything really helpful?