THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO MASTER FOR HOME ORGANIZATION AND WHY
Happy Motivational Monday!
many some of us had a goal in January to get the paper clutter in our life under control. Oh yes, we do remember that goal and even wrote it down. Where is that list, that note, our motivational sticky note?
Ok, the photo about may be extreme but it gives us all a visual of what can quickly happen to paper if we don’t have a plan that we will implement every year, every month, every week, every day.
Surely I am talking about someone else. Your home, my home, is no where near this condition. We know where all our papers are. Right? This person has a problem…not me!
Ah, this is you then? Or you are somewhere in between? I used to have files like these above. Well, maybe not as beautifully color coordinated and perfectly symmetrical as these, but I thought they were organized. I did develop habits to file religiously, making sure that no loose papers were lurking, and believed I would be able to provide past documentation on every subject at a moments notice. Until one day when I was in one country and the document was in another. System error! We came home from that trip and I looked at the numerous files fast becoming “furniture” in our lives and decided there had to be a better way.
# 1 – SCANNING
Most of us are familiar with the concept behind scanning. A process that takes any document and turns it info a fileable image we can store in the digital world. We have evolved from taking docs to a place like Kinkos to scan and send us, to scanners in printers (works only if you can get the printer to work and that is an entirely separate subject) and now scanners on that thing that is permanently attached to the end of our arm. Our phones. I wish I had talked to someone about this years ago because before the apps for scanning were available, I was taking a photo of the document on my phone then emailing it to myself, cropping and filing away in safe little files on our computer. Now with the apps, the cropping is done automatically and it’s so easy to send the docs to whatever system you prefer for storage. The files go wherever we go, as they are accessible on whatever device we want them on and are in the “cloud” for easy access if we don’t have the devices with us. Right. When was the last time you went somewhere without your phone? This is the way we live and I intend to take full advantage of these wonder apps that make our life easier. We have not owned a file cabinet in probably 10 years. Here’s the app we use, but there are many out there to choose from. The best one for you is the one you can’t wait to use everyday!
All sounds good right? Right. But it will take years to go thru and scan all the papers you have nesting around you. Perhaps. We will talk about this next, but for now what if you started today? Start with the next piece of paper that comes into your home that you need to keep. Have the scanner and digital system of your choice ready and scan/file that first item. Do it for everything from now on. In a year you will look back and not see an entire year of paper to deal with.
So yesterday you did not have a scanning system in place….but tomorrow you will! It’s a personal goal and liberating to see it working.
If you are not motivated to do this simply because you want to escape the paper jungle you have created, then read this article Top Reviews About Identity Theft and start your new habit today.
#2 – SHREDDING
This one is a little harder to sink into our psyche. The Yang of the Ying. After that tangible paper has been scanned and stored let’s shred it. What!? Don’t we need to keep paper forever. The accountants 7 year rule has nothing on us. We have 30+ years of paper! How many times have you dug thru all those years of moldy, smelly, brittle records? How many times have you moved them from one room to another, the attic, the basement the next home? Super important documents are usually in a bank safe deposit box. Past tax info is most likely kept safely with your CPA or should be kept digitally. If a seasoned thief broke in and took your tax return info, would you even know it?
Ok, no more doom and gloom, but these things have happened. What if you simply do it so that you can free up space in your home and have peace of mind that you are developing a better, safer system?
Really good shredders are no longer expensive. Unless you get over zealous and feed it too many pages at a time, or have marathon sessions without a little cool down break, a shredder can be gratifying! I love to hear that grinding sound of the teeth protecting our identity while reducing a large amount of clutter in our home.
Our shredder is near my desk and the trash can. I can sit at the desk for 5 minutes a day, open the mail, scan and store the document, rip labels off junk mail, and shred it all without leaving my seat except to place the recyclable pieces in the weekly bin. Even if I need to pay a bill or correspond to something, it is never more than a few minutes. We used to have a nice flat basket that I would place everything in to be shredded and Mr. LBD would do a weekly shred in the garage. So you see, this can be a family affair too. Kids who are old enough to follow the safety instructions might love to have this simple task for a few bucks. And what a life long example you are instilling. As a last resort, play a game with yourself and pass on starting happy hour until the shredding is done for the day. Oh heck, do it during happy hour! It won’t take long to develop a habit you will be so proud of.
So now to address the past years of paper that you are saving. Grab a bag, tote, box or something that you will consider your “To Review” container. Fill it up and go thru this, deciding whether to shred, or to scan and then shred. What’s that saying…the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Here’s the shredder that works for us.
7.3 x 12.8 x 15.9 in
One last bit of info as you ponder acquiring a new shredder. Once you feed your valuable info into the jaws of life, it will come out in one of the three types of cuts below. If you watch crime TV you are more savvy than I was and know that the FBI and CIA pay folks to reconstruct docs that are strip cut. Can’t imagine what that person does for fun if this is his/her day job! Anyway, the cross cut is fine for us and easier to pick up off the floor with one finger lick when I miss the garbage bag emptying the machine. (Note: Do not empty your shredder in a rush, directly into the trash can….our friendly garbage collectors do not think it’s funny when you create a confetti party for them. Neighbors are not thrilled with this either. Let’s not talk about why I am so knowledgeable about this.)
TWO OTHER PAPER CULPRITS
Magazines and Newspapers
Love the newsprint ink on your fingers and the feel of a glossy page as you savor your favorite beverage? Great…keep your recycle box nearby and let them go when you are done with them. Are you an article clipper or saver? Try this app….it changed how we do periodicals and offers ways to save to our hearts content…digitally!
Now to be perfectly honest about some “paper” that has eluded all my efforts to scan and store. Family photos. 30+ years of ours, the ones I kept of my mothers and the ones that we are asked about by every client downsizing.
Previously, in an earnest attempt to scan all photos in our life that were before the digital ones, I took photos out of frames and albums and separated them by kid, family, friends, trips and so forth. They have been in Ziploc bags in one drawer for 3 years. The photo scanner I purchased for $200 does a great job but the process to do 20 photos takes about an hour. It did not fit in our schedule and I failed.
This afternoon, before writing this post, I downloaded the app below to see how long it took to digitize 100 photos. Using my smartphone and the app it took fifteen minutes to scan the photos. I checked for accuracy as I went which added some time. (This was not necessary.) Then I spent 5 minutes to download to the computer, create a file and place into Mac Photos. In this same time, I created a card using some of the photos to test that I had indeed scanned these old photos. Now all the photos are snug as a bug in the cloud, on my Mac and in files on the hard drive back up that I use everyday. Automatically with the app, the photos are cropped and enhanced for the best quality. I am motivated to do more photos before the day is out. I am also excited to create photo memory books for ourselves, friends and family from all these vintage photos! This is a system I can do and I will be happy to pass on the paper copies to the kids as they come by. Any photos they do not want …are going you know where….can you hear the shredder now?!
This is a long post because it is a topic that so many have asked for. These are the systems I personally have used (and will use for photos now) and have made all the difference in the organization of our home, while reducing so much stress. Perhaps some of them will work for you.
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