As I work on reducing possessions around me, I find that some things are harder to get rid of. And there are many practical reasons as to why they can’t be trashed.
Work and personal official documents, for one thing, are a little tricky. For years, we have stored letters and receipts of all kinds for tax filing purposes and have been required to keep them for at least seven years in case of an audit.
And then there are important legal documents with the banks and insurance policies to file as well. Apart from these, I also come from the time where we have printed photographs. There are boxes of them lying around, and honestly, I really don’t know what to do with them.
Converting From Physical To Digital
Admittedly, as we progress, many things today are available digitally, or can be converted to digital copies. Insurance companies offer soft copies of policies instead of hardcopies. It’s a matter of opting in. Many official communications that come in the form of letters can also be opted as emails instead. Photographs can also be scanned and kept digitally.
I’m now finding means online to use apps or services to store them instead. I used to have several external hard disks to store photos and documents, but these things have a lifespan and they do die on us! I’ve had three of them gone kaput on me and lost everything that they stored. Besides, even if they are still in working condition, I’d have to store lots of these gadgets too. Looking for things wouldn’t be easy too, as I’ve got to go through the disks one by one to find what’s stored in them.
Leveraging On Technology More Than Ever
For work, I no longer print proposals, invoices and receipts to file away. Everything is accomplished online. I also try not to store these documents in my computer, and find alternatives in cloud services to store them. Yes, I try to keep my computer storage empty too. I’ve also found it to be risky to have everything stored in a hardware that can break down anytime without warning, and losing important documents along with it.
So cloud services are a blessing these days. Provided you find some which are reputable and easy to use. For important documents, I make sure to have them auto synced instead of manually having to transfer them. It’s all done in the name of peace of mind. Having peace of mind is part of a minimalist lifestyle, as it takes a load of worries or anxieties off the mind. There’s of course a cost to it by paying for subscriptions of such services, but if you have the patience to do some research, you would be able to find some which are free and fit your usage criteria, or some which are affordable enough not to compromise what you need them to do for you.
Using Online Services And Apps
I used to have all kinds of softwares on my computer for all the things I need to do. But these days, most of these things can be done online with an internet connection, without having to have a software or app installed on the local drive of a computer. This also means you can do what you need anywhere, on any computer. It’s quite freeing to know you can work anywhere even if you did not have your computer with you.
I use several online business services. Some of these are free and some require a small fee, depending on the packages you choose. I run a small business so these services are great for me as I don’t need to incur high expenses like hiring an accountant or a legal professional to draft simple agreements. These are available online for smaller fees, or even for free.
Removing Online Junk
From my previous habits decades ago, I’ve also accumulated a lot of online junk. To begin with, I have too many email accounts which I created for blogs that I used to run years ago. The blogs have since been long gone, but the email accounts still exist to date.
Then there are all the subscribed newsletters and marketing emails that come through. I’ve made a point to unsubscribe them one by one. There are so many that I felt frustrated with the time I had to spend going at it. It also doesn’t help that some of these unsubscribe functions don’t seem to work no matter how many times you’ve clicked on that button to say stop sending me emails.
I’ve done what I can so far, and will continue with it when I feel less overwhelmed. It’s really not something I can do in one sitting. It has shocked me that over the years, I’ve thoughtlessly subjected myself to all kinds of marketing materials. I’m definitely more mindful now as to who to say yes to with regards to sending me emails.
What I Get Out Of All This
Unlike physical clutter, all our online clutter aren’t visible to anyone but ourselves. It didn’t bother me in the past but now it does. Whilst no one will know what a messy digital life we may lead, it still pleases me to keep all these to a minimum. It feels less distracting with lesser things coming to me in my mailbox.
I think the larger sense of satisfaction that comes from doing away with online clutter is about feeling more in control and in charge of my life. Keeping everything clean and secured truly makes life simpler and less stressful, knowing that everything is kept in order, and within reach when needed.
There is definitely more room to minimise for me, as I’m only just beginning and truly enjoying the freedom of going digital to minimise my life further. All thanks to technology today.