Minimalism Mini-Project: Digitize Instructions and Warranties
The idea of getting rid of all paper clutter is probably intimidating enough to daze many people into indifference.
Why change a system that already works?
An incredibly valid question. And if you don't mind having a filing cabinet or drawer or bin, then going paperless may not be for you.
I wanted to get rid of my filing cabinets. I used to have two of them for a total of four drawers. They were taking up space and sometimes I would use them to hide other clutter. You may know this routine: cleaning up the house, finding miscellaneous stuffs, not wanting to take the time to evaluate the stuffs, throwing the stuffs into the bottom filing cabinet drawer to hide said stuffs. Hey, Monica Gellar had an entire untidy closet. I had one filing cabinet drawer. I felt like I was ahead of the game. But I digress...
If you're thinking that you'd like to try out a paperless system, then organizing instructions and warranties is a great starting place. Rather than shocking your system with a lofty goal of scanning every important document, receipt, record, certificate, license, photo, contract, and report, start with a manageable task.
1. Gather all of your instructions and warranties.
2. Eliminate anything old.
3. Scan these documents.
4. Save to your digital world of choice.
5. Whenever new instructions or warranties enter your home, scan them right away.
What if I don't have a scanner?
If you have a smartphone or tablet, then there are numerous apps that allow you to use the camera in the phone or tablet as a scanner.
I find Scannable to be quite reliable. While I store many documents in Evernote, I don't have to. I can use Scannable and send the document to email, message, my camera roll, Cloud services like DropBox, or my iCloud account. Check out more about this great little app: Scannable: An Evernote Enhancing App!
How do I decide where to store these documents?
I'm not overly concerned about storing instructions and warranties in Evernote. I don't consider these documents highly personal or private. However, if you're considering digitizing even more, then you do want to do some research on different Cloud services and what levels of privacy and encryption they offer.
If you're not comfortable with the Cloud, then you don't have to use it. You can store all of your digital records on your hard drive, so long as you have enough space. And as long as you recognize that you need to protect your data with layers of security...unless you're planning on going all Bill Adama and not ever networking your Battlestar.
There are some documents that I don't place in the Cloud. These are records that I know I won't want to access unless I'm home at my desktop computer.
Oh, and I back up my data...religiously! If you don't want to use a Cloud service, then you must commit to backing up your data on an external hard drive. My iMac of three years died about a month or so ago. I had everything backed up on my Time Capsule, so setting up a new MacPro was pretty easy.
This project sounds pretty boring...
Yeah, digital organization isn't exactly exciting. But if you think that you'd like to free up space in your home and eliminate whatever paper folder system you have in place, then becoming comfortable with digital organization is a good idea. And starting with a tiny goal is much more achievable.
Once you get the hang of scanning the documents, the process is pretty much rinse and repeat.
Spend the scanning time watching a favorite movie. I've shared a variety of Programs to Inspire Simple Living. Listen to a podcast, audiobook, or favorite playlist. Or you could just be quiet.
However you choose to spend the scanning time, you know that at the end of the project, you have a pile of paper that you can toss. And that feels pretty great!
Read the other Minimalism Mini-Projects: