Paper seems to multiply faster than sugar ants on a sticky counter. It infiltrates our offices and homes. For many people it’s a source of stress. There are many ways to reduce the amount of paper in your life. With the right systems you can have a mostly paper-free zone and reduce your stress. Here are some tactics you can use to eliminate paper from your home.
Eliminate Old Papers
The first step in the process is to reduce the amount of paper that you already have. Be ruthless. Remember that most information is now available online so you don’t need to keep utility bills or company advertisements. Scan papers you think are important and be sure to put them into a clearly marked computer file so you can easily find it later if necessary.
Keep Paper From Entering
On your way back from the mailbox, pull out anything that can go directly into recycling and drop it into the outdoor bin before you even enter the house. Also set up a recycling station inside the house where you can sort, shred, file, and recycle in one area. Try to only handle paper once. In other words, create systems that allow you to take care of it immediately. Scan important papers as you receive them and then shred and recycle rather than creating a pile for later. For invites and events, put them on your physical or electronic calendar along with all of the pertinent information about the event and recycle the invite.
If you’re like most people, the weekly mail haul includes a hefty pile of insurance and credit card solicitations that you don’t even open. Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by opting out temporarily or permanently. Contact businesses directly to let them know you no longer wish to receive mailings and use this government site to opt out of others.
Sign up for online billing with every company you do business with and the amount of paper in your house will shrink exponentially. Utility companies, doctor’s offices, banks, credit card companies, insurance, your mortgage—nearly every company offers a paperless option now. They are required to keep your records for tax purposes so you don’t have to. For example, if you write off a home office space on your taxes, just sign in to your online account to see what you’ve paid over the year and print any required documents.
School Papers and Art
This is a tough one for most parents. Every doodle pulls at your heartstrings, making it difficult to purge school papers and art created by your child. Keep in mind that if you will not want it in 25 years you don’t need to keep it now. For art, proudly display it on the fridge or in a hallway clipped to a “Clothesline of Art” (a long piece of yarn or rope tacked to the wall). This allows you to switch out old papers with the new ones as they come home.
If you really struggle with disposing of your child’s papers, try putting them into a box or large envelope and go through them at the beginning of the next school year when you will find that you are much less attached. Use caution when disposing of items to avoid hurt feelings. Better yet, let your child decide what stays and what goes. Offer to take a picture of items and let the original go. Frame awards, assignments of significance, and special art. You can always switch it out later if you want. You’ll probably find that your child is much less sentimental than you are!
Paperwork for Clients, Students, and Customers
If work produces copious quantities of paperwork, a scanner will be your best friend. Most correspondence is electronic now anyway, but important papers should be scanned and uploaded to the customer account. Online storage allows you to dispose of the original while keeping the content close at hand. Be sure to keep your online files organized by client so you can find them when needed.
Paper does not have to be a prominent part of your life. With the many options in modern technology, it’s easy to eliminate most of the paper that we used to hold on to. In reality, there are very few papers that we actually need to keep at all. However, the paper you do need to hold on to should be organized in files for easy retrieval later. Remember to go through the file cabinet annually (tax season is a good time for this) and dispose of items you no longer need.
Dawn Hammon has thrived in freelance writing and editor roles for nearly a decade. She has lived, worked, and attended school in Oregon for many years. Dawn currently spends her days convincing her children she is still smarter than them while creating new experiences with her husband of 24 years.&nbsp;
Her multiple interests have led her to frequently undergo home improvement projects. She enjoys sharing the hard-earned knowledge that comes with it with the audience of DoItYourself.com. Dawn and her sister make up a power-tool loving duo that teaches classes to local women with the goal of empowering them to tackle their fears and become comfortable with power tools.
Tapping into her enthusiasm for saving money and devotion to sustainable practices, Dawn has recently launched a passion project aimed at connecting eco-friendly products and socially-responsible companies with consumers interested in making conscientious purchases, better informing themselves about products on the market, and taking a stand in favor of helping to save the planet.
When she is not providing stellar online content for local, national, and international businesses or trolling the internet for organic cotton clothing, you might find her backpacking nearby hills and valleys, traveling to remote parts of the globe, or expanding her vocabulary in a competitive game of Scrabble.
Dawn holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, which these days she mostly uses to provide therapy for her kids and spouse. Most recently, I worked for a small local professional organizing and estate sale company for four years where I learned a ton about organizing and/or disposing of just about anything.
She was raised in a tool-oriented, hands-on, DIY family. Her dad worked in the floor covering business and owned local floor covering businesses, so of course selling floor covering was one of her first jobs. Her brother was a contractor for about 30 years and site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity. I worked with him often, building decks, painting houses, framing in buildings, etc. With her sister, she holds power tool classes to empower women who are scared or have never used them.
Not quite homesteaders, she did grow up with a farm, tractors, motorcycles, expansive gardens, hay fields, barns, and lots of repairs to do. Plus she and her family preserved foods, raised cattle and pigs, chopped and hauled firewood, and performed regular maintenance on two households, outbuildings, fencing, etc.
As an adult, she has owned two houses. The first one she personally ripped out a galley kitchen and opened it up to the living area, plus updated every door, floor covering, and piece of trim in the place. In her current home, she's tackled everything from installing real hardwood flooring to revamping the landscape.
H.R. Helm is an accomplished DIY craftsman. He has been DIY since childhood and is now a septuagenarian. He is experienced in wood and metal construction, having designed and built several houses and metal buildings. He built every permanent building on his current homestead and did all the plumbing and electrical work.
He has several years experience as a professional cabinet builder, and he is an accomplished auto repairman, having operated an auto repair business for many years. He currently has a home shop where he sharpens and rebuilds saws, repairs lawn mowers, mobility scooters, hydraulic jacks, and anything else that comes along. He also builds custom tools for metal working.
Invention prototypes are another of his many accomplishments. He owned and operated a manufacturing business building Compact Utility Vehicles for homeowner use. H.R. enjoys making jams and jellies during fruit season along with cooking meals. He is committed to outdoor cooking in a Bar-B-Q pit he welded together several years ago. He maintains fruit and nut trees along with helping his wife with a vegetable garden. He farmed commercial garden produce for several years. It helps to have over 50 years of farming and ranching experience.
ASE Certified Master Auto Technician
Cross country truck driver -- over dimensional freight
Design Engineer/Project Manager for injection molded plastic company
Bus Driver/Substitute Teacher
Inventor with two patents (weight training &ndash; anti-rollback for manual wheelchair)
BS in Industrial Technology