The Very Easiest Decluttering Step – Digitizing

This entry is part 18 of 31 in the series Exploring Minimalism

Although it’s so much fun identifying duplicates, and I’m enjoying creating a minimalist wardrobe more and more, I think my favorite decluttering step is still digitizing.

One of the easiest steps of decluttering is going digital - here is our process, along with equipment and file storage recommendations | 31 Days Exploring Minimalism | simple living, minimalist living

Paper, Pictures, Music, and Movies

There is still some sorting involved with digitizing, but it’s so very easy to just scan files into your computer and throw them away. Highly gratifying, yet not mentally stressful because there’s no finality to it – you still have access to the file.

I doubt we’re the only ones with a huge box of pictures, from back in the day when we had to develop film, that is collecting dust and taking up space in our closet. We never ever look at those pictures, humorous as I’m sure they are. Instead, we are scanning them into our computer also. I feel a whole lotta #throwback’s coming on…

David has been systematically working away at putting all of our movies, music, and audio CDs onto hard drives so that we can get rid of the physical copies. Not only is it wonderful to get rid of that extra clutter, but it’s also cool to have easier access to it wherever we are.

Equipment Options

We started our quest for less paper clutter in 2009 with the Neat system. Their portable scanner is extremely handy, and their file organization system is quite good. It extracts the information from what you scan and makes it searchable. Hello, awesome.

Being behind on so much stuff caused us to take until 2014 to finally get rid of the file cabinet we’ve had in the shed, and there are also some manuals and stuff in binders that we wanted to scan in and throw away, so we opted to purchase the desktop scanner to speed up the process. You can load up to 50 pages in at once, and it does both sides at once. The Fujitsu ScanSnap has better ratings on Amazon, but we’ve been very happy with the less expensive Neat stuff.

While you could technically use these scanners for pictures, since they do scan in color as well as black and white, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.

Now, I can’t vouch for this brand because we haven’t used it, but from what I’m seeing I’m tempted to try it.

Doxie’s mobile scanner is cordless and scans directly to SD card, making it Eyefi compatible. (We’re planning to replace our cell phone soon, so we may move to quickly capturing any paper receipts that way, but this looks like it would be an excellent alternative to have in the car – scan on the go, and with Eyefi it shows up right in your computer.) It also supposedly does a better job with pictures, so two-in-one.

Doxie also makes a small cordless flatbed scanner with a removable lid which allows you to easily scan things like scrapbooks – pretty cool, although I would probably just take a picture instead of a scan.

For pictures specifically, we got a Pandigital scanner at the recommendation of another minimalist.

File Storage

We use a combination of external hard drives and cloud storage for our files. As with all technology, hard drives continue to get smaller while their capacity continues to grow, and it’s all getting cheaper!

Cloud storage also continues to get better and better.

I use Evernote for all my notes, which are quite a lot – it’s taken the place of what used to be a whole bunch of Word docs on my computer.

We use Google Drive‘s 15 free GB for most of our frequent-use files. And some Dropbox also.

Flikr boasts a whole TB of free storage for pictures and video, which I fully intend to use when I am able to finish organizing all of those things, although it won’t be enough for what we need.

I love what ThisLife does with photos for organization automatic facial recognition and tagging, duplicate removal, etc.

2016 UPDATE: We’ve switched to storing all our pictures and random video clips on Google Photos, which has unlimited storage.

It automatically sorts files by date, and also utilizes facial recognition so you’re able to quickly find your pictures of different people. You can easily share different albums or individual images with anyone you choose, or keep everything private. We’re really happy with this solution.

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Exploring Minimalism

Want to explore more of what it means to be minimalist and the resulting space and freedom it creates in your life? Let’s take simple living from something you wish for to something you actually do!

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