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Going paperless is all about hunting the bad guys!

May 31, 2010

(image by Quinn Anya)

[tweetmeme source=”living_minimal” only_single=false]As I have might have mentioned in a couple of post I have almost finished that part of your life where the question of your occupation is answered with a grin and the word student. In little more than a month from now I’ll (hopefully) be getting my bachelors’ degree in Environmental Science. This will be the end of an era for me. I started university at the age of 18 and now at 26 I’ll join the workforces of the world. Sound creepy doesn’t it? It is… a bit. It is also an opportunity to try new things. Like going paperless. I’ve already tried to diminish the amount of paper in my dorm room (and my room at my parent’s place for that matter) but somehow the stacks of paper seem to replenish themselves. Time for some serious action!

Before I start writing about going paperless I must admit from the start that going paperless is impossible and for me undesirable. It is impossible to go paperless in a world that still thrives on paper and maybe even more important: I love paper! I love its touch, its smell, its flexibility and its ready to use kind of attitude. I’m not and will not go paperless! I’ll settle for paper-poor if that is OK with you. So… going paper-less/poor…

I found myself a very nice article by Gianpaolo Pietri from the Optimalist going 95% paperless. Sounds like the paper poor attitude I’m willing to achieve. In this article he makes a nice distinction between temporary and permanent kinds of papers. Everyone with the willingness  to get rid of paper can make that distinction.

We must deal with no remorse or regret when it comes to temporary kinds of paper. Because it’s the one that is always coming back. It’s the brochures that falls on doormat every day, the post-it that stays on the fridge after its usefulness, the magazines you already read months ago. Get rid of them. It’s just clutter and like I wrote two weeks ago we need to act merciless when it comes to useless clutter. When it comes to the permanent kind of paper I have only a few tips: buy a good scanner, read Gianpaolo’s article and if you can’t scan it but you still want to keep it, keep it!

But I found out that there is a still unspoken third kind of paper. It’s these ninja’s that we need to pay attention to. It’s temporary kinds of paper that looks like permanent kinds of paper. They come in many disguises: books you will reread someday, that report you wrote ages ago and never opened again, the financial documents dating back to the year you were born. It’s these bad asses that in the end will hog up all your precious space.

But how do you spot those masters of disguise? By re-examining and re-evaluating the papers that you kept. Is this book/this report/this piece of paper from ten years ago still important to me? Do I need it? Am I sure? It’s these kind of questions that in the end will unmask the villains.

Go as far as you are willing to go. The interrogation can become quite though/emotional/long/boring. Nobody will look down if you only go for 5% less paper. Whatever your personal goal is, good luck hunting!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2010 00:12

    Good luck with the paperless (poor) approach. I’d say I’m about in the same place. I’ve almost there and I have to say it feels really good.

    • June 1, 2010 08:13

      It does feel awesome, doesn’t it? I’ll definitely keeping hunting those bad guys! Thanks for reading my blog. It’s always nice to get to know like minded people. 

  2. June 1, 2010 19:11

    Paper is a tough one for me. I work in publishing and prior to that worked for a commercial printer. Most of my career has been about ink on paper. I too love how it feels and smells but like most things I encounter, in my quest to live more simply, I am willing to let it go (most of it) for more goodness. Thanks for the great post! – Courtney

    • June 1, 2010 19:41

      Thanks. I couldn’t agree with you more. I think… let me rephrase that. I hope that there will always be a place for paper in this world. Touching, feeling and reading from paper is completely different from an PC-screen, mobile phone, iPad or e-reader. It’s just the quantities we keep in our homes… In the Netherlands we have a proverb for this. It roughly translates to “Enjoy, but enjoy in moderation”.

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