Stowing Papers

Ironically, organization becomes a bigger deal when you live in a small space, even though you have less things to organize.

It was a great paper pileup, a wad of receipts, and essential documents mixing it up at the bottom of my backpack. They had to go somewhere, but they couldn’t stay or else I would have nowhere to sit. Living on a boat means knowing where to put things, and knowing what to go on living without. Like a game, to keep or not to keep.

Automatically, when going through a paper pileup I ask myself “do I need this?” Because there are definitely papers I need, like my birth certificate, or car paperwork, even receipts for things I need to return. The important documents go in a sealed waterproof folder, and the less essential ones go in my backpack. Those ones are easy.

A little more challenging is things like cards, not very important certificates, business cards and other non essential paper trail documents. For those, I usually end up throwing it in a pile for a few days (weeks) and forgetting about it until I’m trying to find something. Those ones kill, because I’ll just move the pile around, procrastinating sorting through it because I don’t even want to think about what might be lurking in those papers. Like a letter from the DMV reminding me to pay another fee for tags or taxes or for existing. Or worse… the library sending a late notice for that book I can’t find!

That’s the worst, losing things. It’s not like I have many places to misplace things, or even many things for that matter. It drives me crazy, knowing what I’m looking for is probably just feet away, hiding right under my nose. At that point i just have to start displacing everything I own, looking in every backpack, every drawer and making my place look like a tornado just rolled through. After several hours (minutes) of looking I’ll just give up, because obviously the house elves are just playing a trick on me, and I’m not going to find my toothpaste until it wants to be found.

The hardest things for me to get rid of and to not buy or be gifted are books. I was such a bookworm growing up, and had quite a collection by the time I moved away. Even when I finish a book and don’t plan on re-reading it, I want to keep it around, like some kind . I like the look of books all lined up on a shelf, by size or color or preference. They have such ambiance, just taking up space. The problem is that I have no shelves. Well- actually I have shelves just not book shelves. My shelves are for clothes and non perishables, dinner ware and a few spices, tools and ties and life vests. Books are lovely, but to be certain, they take up too much room. The number of physical copies I can have at a time is probably three or four, two of which are manuals

This makes the case for ebooks pretty strong. Instead of shuffling books around, making trips to the library, or spending money on copies I can’t keep, I can have what I’m reading right on my tablet or in my pocket. Actually, I can have hundreds of books saved that I can read again and again. I know the argument, you’re going to say “but I like holding a real book. I hate reading off of a screen!” But if you’re reading from your phone screen you’re doing it wrong! I hate reading off my phone. It’s too small, the glare is terrible and my arm gets tired holding it up so I don’t have to be looking down.

Want to know the secret to ebooks? It’s tablets. I love my iPad because it’s lasted a number of years now without any problems, the display is great and the battery lasts forever. I do wish that I got it used like my phone, instead of paying hundreds more for something new. Besides, as far as pricing goes, if you want a new device you’re better off going with a far cheaper Kindle or Samsung Tab. But all in all, it’s actually been a great investment, mainly because it cut out paying for books all together! Seriously, if you haven’t been to your library recently you probably didn’t know that nowadays most public libraries have an entire free ebook collection. All you need to do is go to their website then follow the links to their e library and login with your library card.

If you have a Kindle, it’s really easy. Just download the book you want and it shows up in your reader. Even if you don’t have a kindle, you can get free books from your library if you just download the (also free) Overdrive app or the Amazon Kindle app on the tablet you already have. I like these reader apps and have used them forever over the ibooks app because you can change the display, the text size, the fonts and you can even use them to download and listen to free audio books.

Going digital is a big part of preserving space for me. Any paperwork I’m not sure about, I just take photos of with the CamScanner app on my phone. It turns photos of documents and automatically adjusts the brightness and contrast so you can actually read it, plus it flattens papers so that your photo now looks like an actual scanned photocopy. It makes it easy to just name it and file in away in the cloud so it doesn’t take up space anymore. Tablets are great to for streaming movies and shows, so I don’t need a big DVD collection, bulky cable boxes or expensive channel packages. They’re pretty under-rated and the perfect solution for saving both space and money.

If you’re interested in trying out a tablet, here are some good deals on few different devices I’ve picked for you to check out!