Minimalizing your paper clutter

Ever look around your house at your paperwork? Is it stacked in piles around your house or neatly in a filing cabinet?
What if you could make all the piles and filing cabinets disappear while keeping everything. Sounds too good to be true? 

An external storage drive and scanner are your solution. It will require some time at first to set everything up but once you get going makes recalling information a breeze. Best thing is you can finally keep every piece of artwork your child makes, while happily throwing it in the trash (make sure you throw it away while they are at school!)If you have music, taxes, receipts, pictures you can now digitally forever keep them and toss them in the trash. 

One important note before we get started, buy two external hard drives. You need to make a backup of your hard drive in case it dies and yes there is a possibility it could die on you. There are companies that can recall the lost information for about $700. A hard drive can put you out around $50-$100. 

 Then you need to purchase a scanner for your computer. I have a scanner/copier and printer all in one so there is no extra space occupied. Install the scanner.

On my external hard drive, once you plug in the usb port, your computer should recognize it and you can open it up in a minimized window taking up half of your screen. 

Use the other half to keep your file that your scanner drops it in. That way you can drag and drop seemlessly.

Now here is where everyones OCD can come alive!

Organize your life! Here are some suggestions….but ultimately you are in charge because you know what you need. You can set up the files beforehand or as you scan in new categories.

  • Taxes
  • Pictures
  • Music
  • Utilities
  • Vehicles
  • Bank statements
  • Will
  • Medical
  • Insurance
  • Pets
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Investments

We have a ranch so we have livestock. Sub catagory is cattle, dogs, horses which we can keep detailed records or sales, breeding, registration papers, vet reports and can sub categorize to the animal (horses) or year (cattle).

  • Livestock
  1. Horses
  • Ruby
  • Bonnie
  • Etc
  1. Cattle
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  1. Dogs
  • Gin
  • Danno
  • Alley

I have lists for each child.

  • Reese
  1. 4H
  2. Awards
  3. School
  4. Artwork
  5. Employment

As you can see the possibilities are endless. For each paper you need to file you can create a space to where it goes. The tricky part is remembering where you put it, so the simpler the better.

Get scanning! Start with the pile closest to your desk and make it a point to scan for an hour or 30 minutes each day until you are completed with the first pile and move to the next.

What dpi should you use? Dpi stands for dots per inch in which your scanner will record. It depends on how crisp and clear you want the copy and how much space you want to use. Scan in a document and recall it. Is it grainy? Then up your dpi. Rule of thumb, use a high resolution for pictures. If you need to send them to a printer you won’t have unclear pictures. It takes longer to scan those but well worth it when you need it. Also you now have a place to dump the millions of videos and pictures taking up space on your phone, leaving room for more pictures! They will be organized by year and by date if you want to see a chronological set.

Do not trash your papers with important information on them. Instead, you can shred the papers or use them in the fireplace after you scan them. Important documents like titles, official certificates, and other items should have a digital copy and placed in a security box at your bank. I also keep the previous year taxes in a hard copy. 

It will be tedious but after you get all of your scanning and filing done you can do it once a month, keeping the pile in one location by your scanner or once a week. It only takes a small slice of time compared to staring at piles of paper and being overwhelmed with the clutter. Scan your files into .jpg or .pdf as these are universally accepted as a general file extension! 

Enjoy a new clutter free environment!

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