A paperless lifestyle is an aspirational lifestyle, but not an unachievable one. If you’re looking to kick your tree-killing habit to the kerb, and get on top of the stacks of paperwork surrounding you, then the best time to do it is now.
With the advance of online storage and cloud services, there are no more excuses for not culling the clutter and getting digital. Here’s how to get on your way to paperless freedom.
1. Be Ruthless
Funnily enough, the first step to going paperless is to get rid of your paperwork. Depending on how many filing cabinets are overflowing around you, you should be prepared to put in the hours, but reap the rewards.
Go through each of your files and get rid of every last out-dated manual and redundant payslip in sight. A shredder will become your new best friend in these moments of expunging glory.
And for what is left after the great purge, the remaining documents should be scanned and recycled, ready for immediate integration with your shiny new electronic system.
2. Stop The Influx
By managing the paper that is coming in, you can help to keep your future sorting of documents to a minimum.
Reduce unnecessary post by removing yourself from mailing lists and putting up a No Junk Mail sign. Opt in for electronic statements and notices wherever you can. And if you need to print something, capture information electronically instead, by printing to PDF.
Remember that this is a long-term project, and it could take a while to go through the cycle of dealing with, and opting out of, all the post that comes through your door. You’d be surprised at just how much paper you deal with, without even giving it a second thought.
3. Digitise & Get Secure
By reducing incoming mail, the volume of documents to scan will be significantly reduced as well. But with those papers that still need to be added to your electronic filing system, it is best to have an established workflow in place.
Work on setting up an efficient electronic filing system from the start, and you’ll be sure to thank yourself later. Being organised in the digital filing world is just as important as in the real one.
And, of course, wherever you house your important documents, it is also vital to secure them as well. Just like you may invest in a fireproof filing cabinet, having good security and back-up plans in place is essential.
4. Break The Habit
Although it may be near impossible to get rid of every single scrap of paper in your vicinity, shifting the bulk of it is an awesome objective.
Remember that going paperless is not a one-off task. It’s an ongoing process that shouldn’t be derailed as soon as the next bill comes in through the door or you accidentally press print out of habit.
However, once you’ve started down the road of the paperless pioneer, you won’t look back!
How do you reduce the paper in your life? Share your tips below.