4 Ways to Clear Out Paper Clutter

Use apps on your phone to reduce your use of paper In my mission to keep the paper stacks in my home to a minimum I've found a few ways that my computer and smartphone keep me from creating more clutter - I don't even own a home printer anymore!

1. Create PDFs of online-shopping receipts It's a good idea to save the confirmation screen whenever you buy online - but there's no need to keep a hard copy. On my Mac, I can choose to PDF a screen from the "Print" window. On a PC, you'll probably have to download and install a program such as the free PrimoPDF.

Related: Operation No-More-Junk-Mail: Did It Work?

2. Redeem tickets and coupons from your smartphone I have separate folders in my e-mail inbox in which I save bus tickets, airline tickets, and deals I've purchased so they're easier to find later. I can just show the receipt to the driver, look up and key in the confirmation code (or swipe my credit card) at the airport kiosk, or show the coupon to the merchant - no paper printout needed. Another option for those deals: Download the apps to redeem (and buy) Groupon, Living Social, or BuyWithMe offers.

3. Pay bills online I take care of them through my bank's website, but you can also pay on the individual sites for your utility company, cell phone provider, etc. If you're worried about keeping track of bills by going paperless, create an account with Manilla.com to avoid late-payment fees. They can send you e-mails or text messages so you don't miss a deadline, and it also serves as an online file cabinet, storing your bills in PDF form. (Still, because I'm careful, I also PDF the bill-paid confirmation screens.)

Related: A Great Way to Pay Bills Online

4. Make electronic lists I used to be the Post-It queen - and when I realized I'd started sticking them to my phone so I wouldn't forget a to-do, it dawned on me that there had to be a better way. On my Android phone, I now use the GTasks app (see screen shot above left). It's great because a) it has a widget that displays on my phone's home screen so I can see my to-dos at a glance; b) it syncs to the "Tasks" section in my gmail account, so I can access my lists on my phone or any computer; and c) clicking the little checkmark slashes through tasks and moves them to the "completed" list - very satisfying. Similar notepad or task apps are available for iPhone and BlackBerry.

How do you use tech to reduce paper clutter? Let me know in the comments!

-by Amy Roberts

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