all the paper! all the paper! what to do with all the paper?

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About three years ago I went paperless. And it’s the best thing I’ve done health wise since I quit smoking. Seriously!

I had no idea how much the clutter was bringing me down. And it was mainly paper clutter. All the paper knitting patterns. All the bills. All the junk mail. All the handouts from school or scouts. Binders and file folders of paper. And I didn’t know what I had or where it was.

It all started when we moved the shop from the big location to a space the third of the space. The big location was about 2400 square feet upstairs with several hundred square feet of basement.  It had allowed me (and previous owners) to keep a lot of stuff we just didn’t need. Because I had the physical space, I filled it. You never know when you might need a file cabinet of old yarn catalogs or ancient knitting books from the 1970s. Seriously! We’ve all had the experience – the minute you throw something out or give it away, you need it.

So we needed to downsize the shop, I went to town on that basement. And I got addicted to the purge. I discovered that one of the biggest anxiety in my life was paper. Such a simple thing but a little paper here and a little paper there adds up. And paper at home and paper in your business is a LOT of paper.

First I started with all the files in the file cabinets. With my trusty Evernote and my wonderful scanner (with a document feeder), I made quick work of two 4-door file cabinets of price lists, old patterns, and “historic documents.” I only saved the bare minimum physical paper or what was legally required by the government. Everything was organized into notebooks and stack in Evernote and it is all searchable!!!

Then I took control of all the home paper. Here’s how I tackled it all.

Mail and bills: Go paperless with as many bills as you can. For the mail that does arrive in the mail box, have a system to deal with it immediately. I go through the mail at the mail box, right next to the recycling bin outside. Any junk mail – flier from political candidates, information from home repair experts, the weekly circulars – all go right in the recycling bin and never enter the house.  Sensitive junk mail – credit card offers, insurance deals, any marked confidential – I ripped in half. Bills – doctors bills, the water bill, and car tag renewal – go in a pocket on the refrigerator door so I can deal with them later.

Schools papers and handouts: Any handouts that didn’t need to be kept (just informational) go immediately into recycling. Handouts that we needed to refer back to get scanned and then recycled. Homework papers and report cards – things I might want to save forever – go into a folder or pocket on the refrigerator. At the end of the school year, I go through this folder and only keep the stuff that should be saved – the best of the best drawings, reports, homework assignments.

Knitting patterns: With the revelation that is Ravelry, I have been able to eliminate even more paper. I no longer need to purchase patterns. My Ravelry library loads directly into Knit Companion and just have my iPad with me while I’m knitting. And if you have a pattern in a magazine or book, just scan it and then upload it to Knit Companion. If you are using it for personal use (not posting it to the internet or selling it) then you should be good with copyright. And you haven’t tried Knit Companion you are missing out! It syncs with my iPhone and my iPad. I can mark where I am so I never lose my place on a pattern. I can make notes. I can highlight a section. Plus I always have my pattern with me. Are you ever without your phone?

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