10 Ways to Go Digital and Minimize Your Clutter

This Week

If you’re wondering what this blog post has to do with kids and technology, this one could also be titled: “10 Ways To Go Digital, Minimize Your Clutter, Save Money and Possibly the Planet.” For parents, leading by example and establishing good habits will encourage kids to live a greener and less-cluttered lifestyle if they’re not prodding you to do so already. By owning less “stuff”, you can also get into a mode of needing less, and cherishing more of what you already own.

1. Use a digital photo frame. Unless you have large, hung portraits for the wall, several smaller frames can be consolidated into a digital photo frame. Keep it on display but plug it in only when you’re in the mood (or in the room to start with!) and then unplug it when nobody’s around (like night-time or when you leave the office for the day). Digital photo frames are also great for when you have guests over, since certain photos can be fantastic conversation starters or lull fillers.

2. Opt for e-statements and digital filing systems if you can. Schedule online payments for when you know you can handle them (like just after pay day); keep a spreadsheet for budgets and expenses; and when you’re done with the e-statement, save the PDF to a designated folder and/or move the notification email to an inbox subfolder called “Paid.” If you need to call up payment history, you can usually log in to whatever service and call up past statements.

3. Scan important receipts for things like furniture, electronics and/or basically anything over $100. Train your kids by getting them to scan the receipts for you, save the file with a detailed file name (so you can search for it later) and email them to you (if they’re allowed to email). Alternately, get them to save scans to a folder that you direct them to, so they get in the habit of putting things away in the proper place (even if it’s digital!). Scanning important receipts is also handy so that you can call them up quickly if need be, i.e. for insurance purposes. You may want to sync these receipts to an secure online file storage service so you can access them from anywhere.

4. Keep digital versions of owners’ manuals and recycle the large ones. PDFs are often easier to search through by keyword anyway, and don’t take up any physical space, especially when you make multiple residential moves.

5. Try creating online, iPad or computer-based scrapbooks instead of physical scrapbooks and all the craft paraphernalia that can take over totes galore. They don’t take up physical space; you probably get more creative options with graphics, colours and backgrounds; and you can back these up. Some iPad scrapbook apps even let you handwrite with a stylus, so for parties and events like baby showers, you can still get guests and their individual handwriting. For those loyal to photo books, iPad scrapbooks might win you over since you can record voice and video to enhance the memories.

6. Use digital means for reminders and notes instead of endless slips of paper everywhere. There are lots of options, like Post-It note type apps such as Stickies, digital task lists like Errands To-Do List (or others that actually gamify task completion) and Google calendar events with reminders. With Google, you can share calendars and invite others to events over email, then calendar events get entered automatically when accepted.

For loose phone numbers, store them in your smartphone contacts, and for frequently dialled numbers, store these in the centralized address book of your home phone system if you have something like a set of Panasonic cordless handsets. You’ll also get customized caller ID and a fun robotic pronunciation of names if you have the feature activated.

7. Streamline electronics collections. If you’re not sentimentally attached to a large collection of DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs, you can slim it down by eliminating those available through online streaming services like Netflix or your on-demand service from your local cable provider. Don’t eliminate by tossing though! Give them away to someone who hasn’t seen them (and tell them to pass them on), or better yet, donate them to libraries (privately funded ones will gratefully take them) or organizations that can resell them to raise money for various causes.

For video games, resell them (within a reasonable time from the initial release) at a video game store (like Future Shop or EB Games) and get credit for new ones.

8. Invest in external hard drive(s). If you have oodles of CDs from past backups, projects and file transfers, consolidate your collection by copying data to an external hard drive (then back that up to a second to keep offsite if you are paranoid). You can even do this while watching TV and you can recycle CDs/DVDs.  Check out certain electronics stores like Best Buy who can take back general electronics or Google “CD recycling {and your city name}.”  If you’re worried about confidential information on the CDs, make a large scratch with an old key on the surface so they’re unreadable.

9. Embrace e-books. Novels and continuous-read type books are still probably best in hard copy form, but for reference books, books with short chapters, inspirational stories and quotes, e-books are a great way to go. For services like Kobo, you can actually highlight lines, then save your annotations and bookmarks to the “cloud” to access in list format from anywhere. (I actually Tweeted the developers to make this feature cloud accessible and they did!) For publications with reams of tips or nuggets of wisdom, it’s a much faster way to call up specific quotes or advice, especially when you want to share it on the spot.

10. Frequent libraries often.  With libraries getting more high-tech these days, you can borrow items like video games, movies, CDs, book club kits, downloadable audiobooks and e-books accessible from your iPad, mobile device or computer.  For some libraries, you can even manage your account, request and renew items with smartphone apps.

If you like an item a lot, the option is always there to buy your own.  For kids, having a designated spot for library books at home will keep them organized and lessen the number of fines for overdue items!

If you need more specific help on types of scrapbook or productivity apps, let us know and we’ll investigate further!  Contact info@kiwicommons.com.

Image Source: Coolest-Gadgets