We are on the 6th day of the Digital Declutter Challenge and today we are going to do a small task that will payoff for years to come. Today’s challenge is to help you manage your household manuals, instructions and warranties.
Most people have a box, drawer or hanging file filled with manuals, product registration cards, warranties, and instructions. Since these materials take up a lot of physical space, it makes sense to create a digital solution.
The first step is to create a new folder on your computer. You can name the folder whatever you want, but I suggest using your address in the name. For example, “12 Maple Street.Manuals and Instructions.” Should you ever relocate, simply create a folder with the new address in the file name, and transfer over only the relevant files (i.e. for items you will be taking to your new home). The old folder can then be shared with the new tenant or homeowner.
Now that you have a folder, you can start adding to it. The secret here is that most manuals are now available online. Using whatever time you have today, go back through your box or file of physical paperwork and try to locate the digital equivalents online. To do this, go to the website of the company who manufactured your item, and search by the model number. Once you find the correct materials, click on the download symbol, which usually looks something like this:
The files will then download to your Downloads folder (which you cleaned out yesterday!) Name the document something that makes sense to you (e.g. 2017.GE.WashingMachine.Manual), and then move it into your new Manuals & Instructions folder.
Documentation may not be available for older items and some warranties requires proof of purchase or other paperwork. For these situations, you can either keep the hard copy in a file, or you scan/photograph this paperwork and upload it to your new folder.
Lastly, recycle any paperwork that you no longer need:
- specifications you now have a digital copy of in your folder
- documentation for products you no longer own
- instructions you no longer need
- installation instructions for appliances that were installed long ago
- registration cards you don’t intend on filling out
Going forward, download the “paperwork” for anything new that comes in. I suggest downloading the files (rather than simply expecting them to be available online), because manufacturers often don’t maintain the electronic manuals and supportive documentation for outdated products.
Today’s task sets up a tool that will make it easy to keep track of warranties, instructions and other product materials in a way that uses very little space.
Do you have this folder already? Did you find any old documentation that you were able to let go?