Paperless Home: Magazines & Newspapers

After tackling junk mail, another category preventing a Paperless Home and crowding our mailboxes is magazines and newspapers. I've managed to stop subscribing to all magazines and newspapers and I believe my life is better for it.


1. Be realistic about the time you actually have to read and enjoy them. A lot of magazines go unread or half-read only to be cast aside when a new issue comes out. They certainly add to the paper pile-up. Consider your relationship to them. If reading the newspaper is the best part of your morning routine (Dad ;), then keep the subscription but make sure they make it to the recycling bin each day.  ++

2. Protect your to-do list and shopping list. I love Oprah and fashion and science but receiving issues monthly was just adding items to my to-do and shopping lists. I had dog-eared articles piled-up to read. I would flip through a lifestyle magazine and decide I needed to start a new detox or organization system. I would be inspired by Vogue and find three new things to add to my wardrobe. I think they just made me want more, to have a different life but not a better one.

3. You don’t need anything that can be found in a magazine. Catalogs are obviously all advertisements, but many magazines are also mostly advertisements in disguise. The next beauty fix written in an "editorial" is often something that was sent to the magazine by the brand. (Blogs, by contrast, have to state when they've been compensated by a brand.) Even an Athleta catalog makes me want things I don’t need and didn’t want before. 

4. Instead, go to inspiration when you need it. Think about your relationship with searching versus browsing. Searching is more intentional, having a predetermined need and then seeking out solutions: Pinterest while creating a capsule wardrobe, store websites while couch shopping. To me, it's much preferred to have a need for an article or product: I'd like a way to make brownies gluten-free and pretty, then search for inspiration—not the other way around.
Browsing is opening yourself up to suggestion. If browsing is how you get inspired to do awesome things (not just buy a pair of shoes you don’t need), then maybe consider setting parameters. Blogs are great for this, as they tend to be more specific than magazines. They also tend to be shorter snippets of inspiration that are easily searchable.

5. Consume differently. All this said, magazines and newspapers do have value. Maybe consider changing a paper subscription to Sundays only or buy favorite magazines just a few times a year. Buy them less often, when you have the time to do something with the content besides feeling bad about what you aren’t doing. (I let myself buy a few magazines when I fly, with the promise to pass them on to flight attendants before I get home.) If digital clutter doesn’t bother you as much as physical clutter (it bothers me the same way), maybe try subscribing to the best ones digitally. Greg even reads our local neighborhood newspaper in his rss feed!

Magazines can be great, they're like blogs but in print! ;) Newspapers can also be great, or at least they used to be. But I think we should all reconsider our attachment to them. Make sure you have the time to read and enjoy them. Make sure they aren't creating needs for you. Make sure they aren't making you want to shop more. Let the piles go!

+ Next week, we’ll discuss what to do with the all those saved tear sheets and inspiration from existing magazines and newspapers!

++ From “I keep on subscribing to The New Yorker magazine in the expectation of a lengthy, debilitating illness that will allow me to catch up on 15 years’ worth of issues I have hardly skimmed.”