Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in clutter? Do you yearn for a home where everything has its place?
For many of us, just starting the process of purging and simplifying can be daunting. So, instead of tackling an entire room, start with a plan of action that’s small and simple. Choose a specific job (e.g., organizing your children’s artwork), or tackle a single project (i.e., sorting through all the papers associated with health care and health insurance).
And, most importantly, take advantage of any help that’s out there. To get started, these “tools” are designed to help you tackle the clutter.
Round up your receipts
We all keep receipts, whether it’s to record a purchase, submit an expense or take a deduction. Take the time to ditch the paper and check out these two tools for digitizing your stacks. And don’t worry come tax time. Since 1997, the IRS has been accepting most digital (scanned) receipts for taxes and audit.
- Neat Desk Desktop Scanner: More than just an efficient scanner, Neat Desk offers a digital filing system that’s smart enough to use the software and drivers installed on your computer and automatically imports documents to different file types. Thanks to its ease of use and compatibility with Microsoft Outlook, Quickbooks and TurboTax, Neat Desk was given the TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award.
- Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker App: Available on both the iPhone and Android, the Shoeboxed mobile app lets you snap a photo of your receipt and send it to Shoeboxed. After verification (usually within 24 hours), your receipts are stored for easy access on the app or in your online account. Shoeboxed will organize your financial data and have it ready to export to any accounting or bookkeeping application. While the app is free, user costs vary depending on the number of receipts you scan per month.
Digitize your reference library
How many times have you printed out an article you found online, knowing you’ll be hard-pressed to find it later? Or wished you had a virtual file folder to store all those inspiring images for later? Save some trees, and your sanity, with these two online applications that make saving simple and pile-free.
- By installing the Bookmarklet, Instapaper lets you bookmark something you found online to read later. Simply click on the bookmarklet (installed on your bookmark bar) and return to read the article when you have time, either on the Instapaper app or online.
- Pinterest works basically the same way, recording photos you find on the web. Whether it’s fashion, interior design, food or crafting, you can store your images on your Pinterest online account, categorize and organize to your heart’s desire, and share your inspirations with your friends.
Corral your kids’ art
If you’re the type who can’t part with even the simplest line drawings or believe every one of your child’s creations is worth saving, look no further than these two options (the reclaimed storage space and reduction in clutter alone are worth the cost):
- ArtKive App: Named the “Best Parenting App of 2012” by a network of 1,200 mommy blogs, Artkive lets you capture and archive your children’s artwork or schoolwork. Simply take a photo of their artwork or upload it from your camera roll, then tag it with all the relevant information and share it with friends and family. And if a digital image isn’t enough, Artkive offers a simple program to preserve their creations in a high-quality, hardcover book that’s perfect for sharing with grandparents.
- Artimus Art: If photo reproductions aren’t good enough for your budding artist, look no further than Artimus Art. This company will generate high-resolution art reproductions and create a portfolio keepsake book.
Manage your medical data
How many times have you sifted through piles of paper and reams of files trying to find out when your son had a broken wrist or when you last had complete blood work done? More than just clearing up clutter, having a well-organized system for managing your health care, medical history and insurance documents can be life saving.
- My Medical app is a full-spectrum record-keeping app that allows you to keep all relevant medical information in one place. You can store medical histories for as many family members as needed, track and chart test results and vital signs, and even email your record to your doctor.
Box it up
Clutter isn’t always a bad thing, as long as it’s controlled. The reality is, some things just can’t be copied, digitized or reproduced. Be frugal in your selections and make a point of revisiting thoseboxes every few years to reassess what you really want to keep. And get your kids involved.
Reuse or recycle
Once you’ve gone through all the clutter, take a look at what you’ve got before tossing it in the trash. There are plenty of ways to recycle what you no longer need, and it certainly makes giving it away feel much more altruistic.
- Check out iRecycle, a great app for finding local, convenient recycling opportunities nearby. With more than 1.6 million ways to recycle more than 350 materials, iRecycle gives you all the info you need to get rid of your stuff.
You can also check out Where to Sell, Donate or Recycle Everything for more recycling ideas.