Paperless Living: Digitize Your Way to a Decluttered Mind

reading the news without paper

Staying Paper- and Clutter-Free

Moving forward, I’ve made a pact with myself not to accept any more junk into my life, particularly paper. I’ve switched all my billing to paperless except for the stubborn two that refuse to allow it—government and credit card.

I will either scan and email a document to those wanting a faxed signature or use an online faxing program if they still prefer the old school methods. Rather than actually signing my signature, I’ve scanned it as a JPG and insert it into files routinely, eliminating the need to print forms that would just end up getting scanned and tossed.

In the rare circumstance, I’ll buy a paper book or magazine only when I can’t access a digital copy. But I’m reluctant to make these purchases. After doing so, I’ll give them away. With the explosive growth of e-book sales, few publishers do not offer digital versions of their books and the non-digital are becoming a rarer breed by the day. I sometimes email publishers to request they digitize their books. In some cases I’ll return to the online store a few months later and see it there in digital format.

I added my name to the no-junk mail list, which reduced mailings significantly. When someone offers me a paper flyer, I ask for a web address. I usually take notes on my computer instead of on paper or when I do use a paper notebook, I recycle it right after typing up the notes on my computer or scanning it. In general, I just refuse paper in every way possible.

For the paper that does enter my life, I’m quick to scan it (or take a digital photo of it) and get rid of it. The same goes for CDs or DVDs. If I buy them, I’ll rip them and give them away within days. So the only paper in my life is one thin notebook. All my media sits on my computer and external hard drive. And I don’t ever see a need for that to change.

Do I miss having physical photos to look at? Not really. I’ve gotten so used to looking at images on a screen that to hold one in my hand has become a novelty. For that novelty factor I held back a handful of my favorites, though I don’t expect I’ll ever look at them much. The threat of going paperless is that more time is spent looking at a screen. That’s definitely one of the few drawbacks. But as for myself, when I balance that with having to move, store and organize all this dead weight, it’s well worth it.

Paperless living does more than just reduce clutter, it frees the mind. For me serenity is simplicity. The less I have the more peace I find. Once getting rid of collections of books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, bills, documents, and the like I find I’m not ever itching to get them back. Because quite simply, if I have no collection, what would I be adding to?

Kiva Bottero edits and writes for The Mindful Word journal of engaged living and Green Building Canada.

Image credits: mrsdkrebs via photopin cc; ScaarAT via photopin cc

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