Life Downsizing and Simplifying the Boomer Way

I’m making tangible progress on my attempts to simplify and downsize my life. This is happening at home and at the office. Check out what I’m doing. Maybe it will inspire you?

First, I have completed my transition to a 100% paperless office. Here is a photo of my desk at work last Friday.

Before you get skeptical about what happened to the paper, I will tell you that all of it was either trashed or scanned for desktop access, then trashed. Not one shred of paper was placed in a file cabinet. I no longer use physical file cabinets.

This is very liberating for me. First, there is no paper clutter surrounding me to keep track of. More important, with every essential document now stored in our office network, I can access all of it from any computer that has an internet connection. This allows me to do all of my work – except those rare in person meetings – from any location and at any time of my choosing. I’ve actually been doing that for a while but with Friday’s final cleanup, I was certain nothing was overlooked. Now I have plenty of room for a third desktop monitor which I will probably use.

At home, my wife and I have adopted a more formal strategy for getting rid of our excess stuff. We have placed a box in a prominent location outside of our bedroom. We have each pledged to place one surplus item in that box each day, to be either thrown out or given away. Moreover, if one of us brings something new into the house that is not a consumable, then we must place two items in the box.

So far this is working quite well. The obvious position of the box is a constant reminder of our commitment and of our progress. I like it and hope it continues. I expect that a slow and steady system for stuff downsizing will be less traumatic than trying to do it all at once at moving time in the future.

What are you doing to downsize and simplify your boomer life?


  1. says

    Wow, that’s pretty impressive. Still, I have not embraced online record keeping completely. And there are enough times when the Internet connection is lost due to interconnectivity issues that i’d be hard pressed to give up my paper filing system.

    Instead of just throwing used copy paper away, perhaps your landfill accepts it, along with junk mail, for recycling. I never throw copy paper away anymore.

    • Mr. GoTo says

      Dawn: We have a shredder for discarded documents which is then sent to recycling. Fortunately for us, losing internet connectivity is a rare event. If it ever does down at the office, I can go home and work.

  2. averagejoe says

    I was thinking about doing this but what do you do when you need a hard copy of something, say, from 3 years ago? As in, a tax audit? Do you bring your computer with you and have the agent look at your screen (along with all the other info?)

    Just wondering.

    • Mr. GoTo says

      Joe: I rarely need hard copies and if I do, they are printed on demand from our system. Then they are tossed away. In fact, we now have large wall mounted flat panel displays in our conference rooms so that “documents” can be jointly viewed by meeting participants without anyone having to use paper.

  3. Ann says

    Very impressive, not to mention motivating! How did you scan/file all the paper? Did you vend that out or use something like Neat Receipts? And thanks for all the great posts, which I follow using RSS.

    • Mr. GoTo says

      Ann: Most of my legal “paper” is now electronically communicated to and from the US Patent and Trademark Office as PDF files so it is never in paper form to begin with. (This is one area where our government has done a great thing with its own paper handling.) Plus, most of my clients prefer email communications so no paper is generated there either. The rest (not much) is scanned by my assistant in our document center where we have large multifunction printers/scanners/copiers. We have a practice management software system that makes it very easy to store, index, organize, and find electronic documents – much better than old school filing cabinets.
      Thanks for reading!

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