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How to Go Paperless

Jon Fesmire | November 20, 2019 @ 9:04 AM

Does a paperless office appeal to you? We’re talking about no more filing cabinets, no more correspondence via mail, and no more papers piled up on desks waiting to get sorted.

In many offices, the paperless office hasn’t quite happened yet. In fact, in some offices you’d think it was still the 1970s with how much paper is still in use. Why is that? Is it just too tough to completely switch over to computerized billing, correspondence, and filing? Or is it simply that many of us just haven’t learned a better way, so we remain stuck in the habits of the past?

Let going paperless be one part of your efforts to clean and organize your home and office. Here’s how:

Scan It All

Start by scanning existing documents. Invest in a good scanner, such as an automatic document scanner that can handle the job without requiring you to swap out page after page.

Another option is taking a digital photo of every paper you need to scan. Be sure to name each file accordingly and sort these files into folders in your cloud drive of choice. If you must keep the original for a time, file it away. If you don’t need the paper original, recycle it.

Digitize Your Notes

Need to keep a lengthy to-do list, schedule appointments and meetings, or keep sticky-note style reminders? You don’t need paper for that!

For your important notes and to-do lists, use a program like Evernote. Use Google Calendar or a similar program to keep your appointments, instead of a hefty day planner. Set up a reminder app, like Remind or Google Keep, in lieu of using sticky notes.

Recycle Junk Mail Immediately

When you get your mail, take the time to immediately recycle the junk. Only let important stuff make it to your desk or table. Open it, scan anything you need a copy of, then recycle the paper version. Only keep the original if you have to.

Go Through Your Papers on a Schedule

Once a month, go through any papers that have piled up. Recycle paid bills after two or three months. Scan any important documentation you’ve missed. Get the dates for events into your digital calendar.

Go Through Your Digital Storage on a Schedule

Also every two weeks to a month, go through your digital files, which you should have stored with a cloud service like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

Are there any files you scanned, dropped in there, but didn’t have time to sort? Now’s the time to handle that. Do you need to fix file names? Do that now as well.

Ask Coworkers for Digital Versions

If your workplace is still a culture of print documents, ask coworkers if they can send you digital versions instead. Most of the time, they should be able to do this. They’re probably printing those docs from digital files, anyway, so ask them to save those Microsoft Word and other files to pdfs (which you can do directly from many popular programs) and to email them to you, or put them in a shared directory. You can also ask various companies to send you your bills digitally rather through postal mail.

These steps will take you a long way from a paper-filled home or office to one streamlined for the 21st century.

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