For the past couple of years, we have tackled paper in our home. It always amazes me that so much paper could accumulate and how many file cabinets for all this paper . So in our household, we are working our way to minimal paper. This is how we are doing this.
Step one was to make a promise to go through the mail each day – recycling what is junk and dealing with the remaining. That means putting the bills in the bill pay file. Responding to invites. Creating a folder for menus and discounts. Keeping on top of subscriptions. This is working in our home.
But there was still papers! Like many of you, I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on this project, so I planned baby steps. For me, that was one major area per year. There were two items I needed to tackle this. First a scanner – I chose one with a feeder to be able to scan multiple pages. Next, the shredder – I chose a cross cut versus a strip cut to really make confetti out of the documents.
Year one, was our medical records – lab results, doctors notes, insurance claims, cancelled checks etc. We sorted these into piles – keep and scan, toss and to do. This took time, we spent 5 minutes most days and did a little more each day. Within the year, this was done. One file cabinet drawer tackled.
Year two, was taxes and supporting documents. This wasn’t as hard as I imagined. We kept 7 years worth of paper returns. We choose to scan the actual old tax returns before shredding them. Now, we scan everything including the supporting documentation and keep the returns in a pdf file.
Year three (honestly, this two two plus years) was the family photos. For our home, this included movies and slides in addition tot he photos. I inherited all my families media and sorting this took time. First, we the movies. we didn’t even own an 8mm projector. We took a giant leap of faith and trusted the titles to a company to put them on DVD. And that worked for us. Next, the photos. I have to be honest and tell you this was time consuming. It took lots of time to sort and scan the photos we wanted. Last, came the slides. We sorted these and sent them to the same company to be put on a flash drive. This project is done!
This year is the year of the manuals, you know those items that come with a new item and you keep it just in case. Ours are very organized and filed by room or type of product and we do refer to them from time to time. But they are taking up a whole file drawer. My though process, is to download the manual as we by new products to refer to and not save the paper. I will create a file with folders like my file cabinet.
Remember to back up anything on your computer, either in a cloud or on external media. You would to lose your family photos or important documents with a computer crash.
We have gotten rid of three file cabinets – two four drawers and one lateral – so far. And there is more to go. What do you do with all your paper?