In a world that is increasingly becoming digital, it is important to reduce the amount of paper clutter in our lives. Not only is it better for the environment, but it also helps us stay organized and efficient. There are many ways to downsize and eliminate paper using online storage and other digital tools.
There are multiple benefits of going paperless.
The first is searchability. Instead of knowing a document you want is in one of 11 different boxes stored in the basement and you having to manually go thru them until you find it. If it is stored online you can use the search feature to type in the document name or keywords to quickly locate the document.
Secondly is storage, no longer will you need to box, files or binders of old papers. All your documents can be stored online, and you can throw out all the papers.
Thirdly is sharing. Most online storage tools allow you to share all or some of the documents and files with other people. You can share some folders with your spouse, others with you children. You can share as much or as little as you want.
And in addition, for accessibility. You can access your files at home, at the cottage, at your Winter home in Florida or while travelling. All you need is computer access.
Personally, I have been running my real estate practice completely paperless since about 2015.
Here are 11 strategies to help you eliminate paper as you downsize
1. Switch to online billing and statements
One of the easiest ways to reduce paper clutter is to switch to online billing and statements. Most banks, credit card companies, and utility providers offer electronic options for managing your accounts. This means that you can receive bills and statements via email, which you can store and organize electronically. By doing this, you can reduce your reliance on paper and save time and money on postage.
2. Use cloud storage for documents
Cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive provide an easy way to store and access your documents from anywhere with an internet connection. With cloud storage, you can upload and store all kinds of documents, including financial records, personal documents, and photos.
Additionally, cloud storage services offer robust security features, so you can rest assured that your files are safe and protected. If you have a Gmail email address, you already have a free Google Drive account. If you are unfamiliar with these products I have included some links to videos about how to use each of these.
Google Drive https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTuL9A-Xqbw
MS OneDrive https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM4eXdETKOY
3. Digitize important documents
If you have important documents that you don’t want to lose, consider digitizing them. You can use a scanner or a smartphone app to capture high-quality digital copies of your documents. Once you have the digital copies, you can store them in a cloud storage service or on your computer. This not only reduces paper clutter, but it also helps protect your documents from damage or loss.
I’ve been using Genius Scan on my phone for years. It works great and has a free version. You can learn more here. https://thegrizzlylabs.com/genius-scan/ And here’s a video on how to use it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z6PHHd2Exc
4. Use e-books instead of paper books
If you’re an avid reader, consider switching to e-books. With an e-reader like the Kindle, you can store thousands of books in one compact device. This means that you can declutter your bookshelves and eliminate the need for physical books. Additionally, e-books are often cheaper than physical books, so you can save money in the long run.
5. Use online services for tasks like banking and shopping
Many tasks that used to require paper can now be completed online. For example, you can use online banking services to transfer money, pay bills, and manage your accounts. You can also use online shopping services to order products and have them delivered directly to your door. By using these services, you can reduce your reliance on paper and simplify your life.
6. Use digital calendars and to-do lists
If you’re still using paper calendars and to-do lists, consider switching to digital tools. There are numerous apps available that allow you to create and manage digital calendars and to-do lists, such as Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar and Todoist. By using digital tools, you can access your schedules and tasks from anywhere and eliminate the need for paper.
I’ve been using Google Calendar and Todoist for years, both are great. Todoist will interface with a Gmail account so it’s available in your inbox. If you have a Gmail email you already have Calendar included and the same with Outlook. You can get a Todoist account at www.Todoist.com And of course, here are the videos:
Google Calendar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5yyQDbAxaU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcrQA1VnVyk
And if you want the calendar on your phone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyfbNtpxc9Y
MS Outlook Calendar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BU_ELSsDLc
7. Use online forms for applications and registrations
Many applications and registrations can now be completed online using digital forms. For example, you can apply for a passport or register for a class online. By using online forms, you can eliminate the need for paper applications and registrations, which can help reduce paper clutter.
8. Use digital receipts
Many retailers now offer digital receipts that can be emailed to you instead of printed. When you make a purchase, simply ask if a digital receipt is available. This not only helps reduce paper clutter, but it also makes it easier to keep track of your expenses. You can also save the receipt to online storage so you can easily find it in the future.
9. Use digital note-taking app
If you’re someone who likes to take notes, consider using digital note-taking apps like Evernote or OneNote. These apps allow you to take notes, organize them, and access them from anywhere. By using digital note-taking apps, you can eliminate the need for physical notebooks and reduce paper clutter. Google Keep is a more basic note taking app and as you probably guessed it comes free with your Gmail account.
I’ve been using Evernote for years and love it. I can save notes, documents, pictures, videos and they have a cool feature that allows you to save a copy of a webpage. It has a free version. I even keep my grocery list in Evernote.
Evernote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X2338G-N60 or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27jSOSy_TfY
Google Keep: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6R8sh4HJig
10. Store your photos online
No doubt you have many old photos which have value unfortunately over time they can fade or get destroyed or lost. One way to prevent this is to scan them and save online in Google Photos or Apple iCloud. To scan photos you will need a photo scanner like this Digital Film & Photo Scanner Multi-Function Combo Scanner with HD from Amazon
Storing them online also will allow you to share those photos with family or friends as well as sort them by type, year taken, by people etc. Here’s some videos to show you more.
Google Photos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXe68IxpqWo
iCloud Photos : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sNvh_Kp18k
Another cool option is a digital picture frame. It will store multiple pics and continually run thru them in rotation. Here’s an example of a digital picture frame: https://www.amazon.ca/Digital-1280×800-Auto-Rotate-Instantly-Anywhere/dp/B09PY8Y39N/ref=sr_1_4?
11. Throw away your Rolodex or address book.
You can store the names, phone numbers, email addresses and home address of everyone you know online. Two popular options are Google Contacts & Outlook Contacts which come with a Gmail or Outlook email account. And they will sync between your computer and mobile phone. They have unlimited ability to store as many contacts as you need and they are always at your finger tips.
Google Contacts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ0JOhGg1vE
Outlook Contacts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeRYRnL9i-w
I’ve mentioned all the free products included with a Google Account (Gmail email) so to give you an introduction to all the features of a Gmail account here’s one last video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zQGKcNIx_o
In conclusion, there are many ways to downsize and eliminate paper using online storage and other digital tools. By adopting these strategies, you can reduce paper clutter in your life and become more organized and efficient. Additionally, you can help reduce your environmental impact and save time and money in the long run. So, start taking steps towards a paperless lifestyle today!
Roy Thomas SRES® (Senior’s Real Estate Specialist) is a REALTOR® with Sutton Group Professional Realty. Since 1991, Roy specializes in helping retirees with their later in life real estate transactions. Call Roy at 902-497-3031 or contact Roy here