Are your cupboards and drawers filled with outdated clutter? CDs, paper, photo albums, DVDs and books take up a lot of space. Here are 10 ways you can take the plunge into a digital, clutter-free life.
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10. CDs, Records And Other Music
Unless you only started collecting music after 2005, you probably have CDs, cassette tapes and records lying around taking up space in your house. Some you might have in your digital music library, others you don't. Now is a good time to digitise everything and get rid of some of that clutter (at least the clutter you're less emotionally attached to). Ripping CDs is easy, but if you want to rip those old records, you'll have to do a bit more work. While you're at it, make sure you're ripping everything in high quality — after all, you might just become an audiophile in the process.
9. Photos And Slides
If you have a lot of old photo albums, it's a good idea to scan those into your digital library and keep everything together. Scanning regular photos is easy, and you can easily touch them up with software to make them look crystal clear. Organise them using a library like Picasa or Lyn, and sync them to the cloud so you always have access.
8. Post-Its, To-Dos And Other Notes
Pen and paper is still one of our favorite to-do list managers, but if you find that you get buried under disorganised scribbles and Post-Its, it's time to take it all digital. Use a to-do manager like Astrid or Wunderlist to keep track of your tasks, and a program like Simplenote to capture, organise and sync all your simple text notes. If you really want to go all-out, you can use something like Evernote, which lets you capture nearly anything into a searchable, constantly-synced database, so you have those little notes on hand wherever you go.
7. Business Cards And Contact Info
Despite what some people claim, business cards are not irrelevant yet. But, they can get lost easily, and clutter up your wallet, car or desk. Instead of hoarding tiny pieces of paper, scan them into your phone as contacts using an app such as Google Goggles. You can stick them all in their own contact group, so they don't clutter up your personal contacts, and you'll always have that info on hand when you need it. Plus, when you want to send that contact over to someone else, you don't need to fumble for a business card — just send them the digital contact via SMS, email or Bump.
Some bookworms may shudder at the thought of giving up their physical books, but it can help you reclaim a lot of space. Ebook readers are cheap, and you can load them up with ebooks without spending any money if you wish.
If cooking your daily meals and tracking what you eat has become too complicated, a switch to digital might be just what you need. Ditch that old recipe box for a recipe library on your computer, or even better yet, get a meal planning app and plan your weekly meals stress free. Not only can you store recipes, but you can create shopping lists based on what you're going to make during the week.
4. Movies, TV And Other Video
My giant shelf of DVDs, Blu-rays and other media was the biggest source of clutter in my life. There's no need to have all of those around, though. Build yourself a media centre for all your digital video needs. You can stream movies and TV through Quickflix, iView and other TV services and you can rip all those DVDs and Blu-Ray discs directly to your hard drive for playback on your TV.
3. Gift Cards, Loyalty Cards And Event Tickets
Raise your hand if you've ever forgotten to bring your concert ticket to the concert. Ever forget to put the right loyalty card in your pocket, or even forget that you have a card for the store you just shopped at? Moving these things to your phone can not only save you some space in your wallet, it can help you keep all that stuff organised. iOS 6 introduced Passbook, which will potentially be a useful way to manage gift cards and tickets once local retailers get on board.
You can also get Passbook on Android with Passwallet. Alternatively, use a program such as Key Ring to scan in all your loyalty cards so you have each of them on hand at all times, and use TripIt to get digital information about your flights when you travel. The more you can put on your phone, the easier it will all be to access.
Okay, so currency and physical credit cards aren't so easy to get rid of, but you can do a lot with your phone to organise your finances. We're the first to point out the flaws in current banking apps, but they do make it much easier to track your finances. Opt-out of paper statements to stop your mailbox being cluttered, and scan older documents (see the next point) so they're not taking up room. Remember, you generally don't need to keep them for longer than five years.
1. Paper Documents And Manuals
OK, so you're really committed to this digital thing, which means it's time to round up all the paper in your life and convert it to a digital format: bank statements, insurance statements, bills, and even the manuals that come with all your gadgets. That last one is particularly easy to do — just search for the manuals on Google and toss out the paper — but everything else requires a little more effort. Check out our complete guide to going paperless and how to make the transition from paper for information on how to digitise, how to store it all, and what things you should still keep around in paper form.