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digital clutter – 3 myths

Recently I was going through paperwork with a client who kept saying, “put that in the ‘to scan’ pile.” I became more concerned as the pile grew and I finally asked, “What will you do once you’ve scanned it?” The question stumped my client, she had been saying that she would scan things for years but had never actually done it. Similar to physical items, digital files can easily become clutter.

Below are 3 myths (and the actual truth) when it comes to digital clutter:

Myth 1 – Scanning will fix your paper problem

Myth 2 – Everything should be scanned

Myth 3 – Items scanned onto your computer become magically organized

Myth 1 – Scanning will fix your paper problem

Often with paper organization, the inclination is to treat the symptom, not the disease. If you receive too many items in the mail, the key is not to scan everything into your computer, the key is to unsubscribe or not sign up in the first place. When a store asks for your address, you don’t have to give it. Each promotional email you receive should have an unsubscribe button at the bottom (usually in very small print), press it.

Most companies now have the option for you to go paperless, which means you’d receive statements electronically, sent to your email. Say that I bank at Chase and I receive my monthly statement via email. If I wanted to hold onto those statements, I’d create a folder in my email called ‘Chase Statements’ and every time I received one, I’d put it in that folder. Ta-da!

Myth 2 – Everything should be scanned

Let’s try to make your life easier, not harder. Yes, scanning is helpful but not everything needs to be scanned. With paperwork, the case is often that you need something for a certain period of time and then you no longer do.

Certain items can also just exist as paper. The filing cabinet has gotten a bad rap. What did it ever do to you? Often I see in client’s homes stacks of papers in different places because they don’t want a filing cabinet. They don’t know where things are and if they do, it’s a pain and a half to get them out. File papers that you need original copies of, as well as items that you only need for a certain period of time and once a year, de-clutter.

Myth 3 – Items scanned onto your computer become magically organized

I use Evernote for all random pieces of information, including scanned documents. Within Evernote I have a personal stack and a professional one. And because each note is searchable, there are a number of different words and phrases that can help me find the note I’m searching for.

As for documents on my computers and my files, folders are your friends. Label them and make sure to put items in their proper folders.

Your digital clutter doesn’t just disappear into the beyond; it becomes a pain in your behind and stops you from finding things you need. Set your systems up well from the start and stick to them. The most important thing is to create systems that work for you, not your friend or your mom, you as a unique individual. If things are organized in a way that makes sense to you, you’ll be able to find them again.

Try my tips and above and let me know how it goes! You can email me at and follow me on Instagram @toritheorganizer.


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