Use Google and Online Manuals To Reduce Paper Clutter

Use Google and Online Manuals To Reduce Paper Clutter


I don't know if you have noticed the trend of the last few years, but less and less things come with instruction manuals. And if they do include some kind of instruction, most often it is just a link to an online manual or company website. Environmental conservation and corporate cost-cutting measures have helped forge this new path, but what does it mean for also reducing paper clutter in our lives?

While companies might be helping set the trend for less paper clutter in our homes and offices now and in the future, they can’t do much about the stock-piles of manuals we already own. For those, I think digital solutions are plentiful, and for that, I strongly suggest that you be willing to part with your manuals. Just be sure that you keep any warranty information. As well as any identifying model or serial numbers that you can’t locate on the device itself.

For anyone who thinks this sounds like a drastic clutter-busting task, I suggest the five following re-assurances to help put your mind at ease and reach for your recycle bin.

1) Google. There doesn’t seem to be any pesky problem that Google doesn’t seem to know how to find at least a hint of an answer to. You can query basic searches that will lead you directly to the manufacturer’s website. But there are also possibilities of news articles or other blog posts by people who have the same question or issue.

Google can also help lead you to user forums where communities of people can crowdsource information to help you with your problem. Reddit can also be a good resource.

One relatively new way of getting help is within the Amazon website itself. Most every product listed on their site has a thorough Q and A section. I’ve used it to research and troubleshoot various technology problems.

2) YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google and therefore, the second largest search engine on the internet. There are millions of videos on the site and odds are that at least one of them covers the repair project or question you are looking to get solved.

3) Manufacturer's Website. If is really just a copy of a manual you need, most all manufacturer’s keep archived digital copies of their product’s manuals that you can download or view electronically.

4) Cost to repair vs. Cost to replace. As yourself is what you have that is needing repair really worth even fixing? I can point to a half dozen or so things around my house that if they quit tomorrow I woudln’t pay to have fixed. Of course, major appliances are a major investment. But the depreciation on small tech devices and entertainment gadgets are built with an expected shelf life. At some point replacing will always be cheaper than repairing. And if you wouldn’t bother to repair it, why do you need the manual?

5) Is there really information worth keeping? Take a good look through your stack of manuals. Is there information there that is really worth keeping. Are their special diagrams? Are all of the instructions in a language you can read? Is the warranty policy (all of those three pages of really small print) even still good?

I hope this list is a useful reminder (and motivator) for you when you are cleaning out your file cabinet. A stack of manuals might seem like a small part of a larger life of paper clutter, but as I always say, small efforts can lead to big results.