Stems and All

My journey to buy less, consume smart, use what's there.

Paperless trail: decluttering paperwork from my life

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We all have our hated tasks and despised chores – tasks that we avoid doing at all costs. For me, that task is filing paperwork. I will often stack papers on top of papers on one of my filing bins, until the entire stack threatens to topple, rather than taking the few minutes it would require to purposefully put the papers into their appropriate files.

I realized that as part of the journey to creating less waste and de-cluttering our lives, one of the biggest upsides for me was to go paperless.

One rainy afternoon, I decided to tackle my albatross. I was determined to grab this bird by the neck, and give it a good thrashing. Feathers and all.

Project paperwork declutter underway...

Project paperwork declutter underway…

As with most painful projects, I decided to divide and conquer to make it more manageable. Regardless, it was a painful project.

1.) Online elsewhere: I first determined which of my accounts and information I could easily access online. It turns out, that most bank accounts, savings, brokerage firm statements, mortgage statements, insurance forms, and more are available and easily accessible online. I made a list of all the account numbers and website URLs, and made a separate list for all the passwords. All of this paperwork I put into the shred pile.

2.) Sentimental stuff: I am the person that has historically filed away lots of sentimental stuff. Ticket stubs, museum entries, race bibs from past triathlon races that I’ve done, and more. I pulled all of these aside, and put them into a “deal with later” pile. More on that later…

3.) Keepers: After all this was done, there were really only a handful of items that I felt I needed to store and keep hard files of, including taxes filed in previous years, house and car loan and deed information, birth certificates, copies of my families will, and a few other items. The majority (at least 80%) of the paperwork and stuff I’d been stockpiling and pain-stackingly been filing could be shredded.

By the time I finished this project, I was exhausted, but it was such a worth while accomplishment.

Author: Jane Newcomb

“Stems and All” is my personal journey to become a more environmentally responsible human, live a more sustainable life, and practice sustainable consuming habits.

One Comment

  1. Perhaps one time – on a rainy day – you could put me on the road to less paper clutter. I, too, have a pesky bird hanging around my neck!

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