It’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced the frustration of clutter in our homes and offices.
Reports have found there are around 300,000 items in the average American home. While some have the organizing chops to store our items smartly, most of us struggle with clutter and ongoing battle with too much stuff (we have over 50,000 storage facilities in the US – to put that into perspective, it’s almost five times our number of Starbucks locations!). Research has proved that clutter around us actually competes for our attention, which affects our ability to focus and process information, and can increase stress.
With spring cleaning season upon us, we rounded up five tips to declutter your office and home, so you can be more productive and actually enjoy your space.
Add, instead of eliminating
This sounds counter intuitive, but it works. Instead of painstakingly reviewing each item to determine what to throw out or donate, gather up all of the excess clutter in one space and place in a box. When you remember or need an item, retrieve it and add it back to the space. It helps to identify what you truly need and want, vs. what you’ve simply accumulated. If it’s still in the box after a few weeks, odds are you can let it go. This trick is helpful for small spaces (i.e., your desk), or larger ones (i.e., the living room).
Whether it’s important personal documents in boxes at home or old-school filing cabinets in the office, you’ll be shocked to find how much space is taken up by paper alone. The good news is that there’s an alternative – storing and organizing these files digitally. A digital filing system reduces clutter and eliminates chances of losing or misfiling important documents. Scanners like the Fujitsu ScanSnap have built in features like OCR (optical character recognition) that allow you to add keywords and create searchable files. They are easy to navigate and suitable for use in the office or at home. Scan and digitize your important receipts, forms, bills, tax returns, and insurance documents. Download digital copies of important manuals, and opt for paperless statements and e-bills whenever possible. Scan old photos to save a high quality version and preserve your memories from wear and tear or worse – getting misplaced or lost.
Use a cloud-based service for backup and quick access
If you’re concerned that you may lose important documents or photos to a technology mishap, there’s a good solution. Take advantage of a cloud-based software to ensure you never lose files to a stolen, crashed or hacked computer.
ScanSnap iX Series scanners have direct-to-cloud compatibility with versatile platforms like Google Drive, Evernote, Box and others. Another upside of cloud-based organization? You can file, sort and identify files with keywords to find the right document or photo quickly, and never search hopelessly through boxes again.
Shred what you can
Invest in a shredder, or two if you don’t work from home. Once you’ve scanned and digitized the files you need to keep, shred the paper version. This is a vital step in eliminating clutter, and you won’t need the hard copies anymore. While there are a few items you should ensure you keep a paper version of (birth, marriage and other important certificates), these are few and far between. Many of our customer are shocked to see how much space they gain when they eliminate paper documents!
Explore the possibilities of digital minimalism
Once you’ve gone paperless in terms of files and photos and experienced a decluttered lifestyle, think of other ways to incorporate these practices into your routine. Do you let magazines and newspapers pile up? Opt for digital subscriptions for your favorite reads to avoid wasteful paper usage and make space on your coffee table. Audiobooks are also a great way to maintain a voracious reading habit without becoming buried under stacks of books or purchasing another bookshelf. It’s fine to keep hard copies of the classics, your favorites, or that cookbook you use every Christmas, but you’ll be delighted to find how much space you’ll free up. When it comes to lists, try a tool like Evernote, which can be synced across your devices. It’s a great way to seamlessly organize your to-dos at home and at the office, and you’ll never find yourself at the grocery store realizing you’ve forgotten your list again.