On a recent venture out on the town, I stopped by a local Staples to get my office supply fix (I’ve been told that I have an obsession). While perusing the latest and greatest gadgets in retail, I happened to stumble upon a clearance table. I did not know that these existed, but I was ecstatic to learn that they do.
More importantly, was what I found on said table. On clearance for 75% the original price, was a Brother DSmobile 620. Perfect! We have been meaning to work on our paper clutter! With our now organized and minimalist computers, it would be the perfect time to merge our physical and digital documents.
Now, because we’d already done some research on document scanners with PDF conversion, we knew that the DSmobile was not top of the line, but it is a highly portable decent scanner at 8ppm and 200-600 DPI and it was a great value. After the initial scans, there isn’t much to deal with as long as there is weekly upkeep. After that, the portability is more attractive than a higher scan rate.
The guidelines didn’t fit well with this Minimalist Monday, mainly because this is less of an active effort and more of a slow and monotonous task. It did however, need to be done. Though, if you don’t have the time to do it all in one session, it can easily be done in batches. 15 minutes a day will have it done soon enough, and every day you will be one step closer to fully reducing your paper clutter.
There are going to be papers that are necessary to be kept in physical form. The idea is to reduce until you are left with only the essentials. Generally, this would include:
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Marriage License
- Car Title
- House Title
- 7-10 Years of Tax Returns (Federal is 7, some states require up to 10)
There may be others that would be essential to you, and YMMV depending on your personal situation. If you are self-employed, I’m sure the list would be longer. Others may want to keep things that are handwritten. The goal is simply to reduce as much as possible.
It is possible that we are hoarders of the paper clutter, but we would rather be safe than sorry. Some of the things that we finally rid ourselves of in physical form were:
- Internet & Phone Statements
- Bank Statements
- Greeting Cards
- Single Sheet Manuals
- Apartment Walkthroughs (from before & after)
For the manuals that were not single sheets, we simply downloaded the digital version and trashed the physical copy. We are also contemplating scanning the majority of our daughter’s artwork and simply keeping the physical copy of our favorites. In the end, the artwork is for our sentimental reasons anyways and she generally doesn’t care much once she’s moved on to her next piece. I’m sure that there is more paper in the house that we have yet to think of, so we will continue to be on the hunt.
How do you feel about a digital filing system? Would you rather keep all of the papers in physical form? Would you have a more extensive essential papers list? Or would you prefer to rid yourself of as much paper clutter as possible?