Decluttering – Reducing paper clutter


A while ago I decided that I would follow the footsteps of Leo Babauta (“declutter” search) and Jamie Todd Rubin (Going paperless) in their goal to reduce clutter in their lives. I opted to start to reduce my physical clutter particularly paper clutter and anything that I am not regularly using or really need to keep.

Currently, I am mainly concentrating on paper clutter for three reasons:

  1. paper collects dust,
  2. I have a lot of paper,
  3. I wish to make some clutter-free space.

I especially have many printed documents and lecture notes that I downloaded from academic websites as well as my own lecture notes dating back to my first year in college as a physics student. I also have physics and math guides as part of my work as a physics and math educator.


Printed documents

So what I started doing last week was scan the documents I have in print-only form and process them. As for the printed documents, I started with a selection of them that are on Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, and Calculus. These I searched for the digital files in my archive and once found them I threw away all the print ones except those that had notes or highlights. These ones I will add the notes and highlights to the digital files (most are PDF’s).

Teaching guides

As for the guides I use for teaching, I had already debound in preparation to scan. Apparently it is a waste of time to scan them with my flatbed scanner so I resorted to a photocopy service and asked that they scan the guides.

The output of the first batch I scanned was in PDF so I had to convert the PDF’s to individual PNG images so I could process them with Scantailor and then bind them into a DJVU file with djvubind. From now on I will request the output images in the lossless PNG or less preferably JPEG formats.

I am very impressed by djvubind and the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) made by tesseract. It is very effective. For details on the process and what I am trying to do A Linux Guide to Book Scanning clears it out.

I will be continuing this project but future projects on my list include digitizing photos and my university lecture notes.

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