How To Go Paperless At Home Or At Work? Adopt These 5 Habits.

This is the year 2019. Millions of people worldwide are still overwhelmed by floods of paper oozing out from their desks and drawers, hindering them from being more productive. The right technology has been invented years ago, so why are their still so many people that don‘t enjoy the convenience of a paperless life? [1]

The answer is bad habits. If you fall back into old routines, it is hard to go paperless at home or at work. So here are 5 habits you should adopt to finally go paperless this year:

1. Always scan everything

No matter how unimportant something might seem at the beginning, you never know when you‘ll need it again. This is the number 1 habit we suggest for successfully going paperless at home or at work this year. Whenever you receive a physical piece of paper, scan it and save it to your computer or to the cloud. There are plenty of good scanner apps for your smartphone available, so you can do it right away. Check if you need to keep the original version of a document after scanning. If not, toss it. For larger stacks of paper, we suggest getting yourself geared up with an automatic document scanner. Consider investing into one that supports OCR to create searchable PDF versions of your documents.

Plenty of scanning apps are available for smartphones and tablets

2. Use digital versions of your usual paper products

Traditionally, we all own a couple of physical paper products that we use daily, without knowing that there are better digital versions of them. If you can, start using a digital version of your paper products right from the start to eliminate as much paper from your life as possible. Consider these:

  • GoodNotes instead of your paper notebook
  • Use your built-in smartphone calendar instead of a paper planner
  • Use reminders or task managers like Trello instead of sticky notes
  • A cloud storage like Dropbox instead of your paper filing cabinet

3. Open all your mail at the postbox

This trick seems too simple to be effective but it helps a lot to go paperless at home. If you open all your mail right at your post box, the paper clutter in your life reduces drastically. Separate the unimportant mail like junk or newsletters directly so that you don‘t even need carry it into your house or your flat. If it is important mail, scan it right away, then throw it away. If you need the original document, scan it, then file it somewhere where you will find it without problems.

4. Schedule regular self-audits and paper-purges

Every system has its flaws that will need to be optimised step-by-step. We suggest scheduling regular audits of your own system for going paperless at home or at work where you review the flaws and try to eliminate them. Every 4 weeks, try to ask yourself the question: “When did I receive any paper that I couldn’t scan or toss right away and why?” Then adapt your system to prevent it from happening again. To go paperless at home or at work, you need to be rigorous. Every couple of month, we suggest conducting a process we call “The Paper Purge”. Its goal is to clean your home or your office from all unnecessary paper that piled up because it slipped through the cracks of your system. During the paper purge you will:

  • Throw every piece of paper away that you don’t need
  • Scan everything that you think could eventually be important
  • Make sure every digitized file is named or tagged correctly
  • Sort all unsorted files into the cloud or the right apps

Batching tasks even helps you to save a lot of time.

The paper purge prevents this 😉

5. Always ask for digital versions

Be annoying! Whenever someone wants to share a physical document with you, ask for a digital version. When your university professor wants to hand you a paper handout for the lecture, ask if he can upload the PDF instead. When you receive company newsletters or catalogs that you want to read, ask the company if they can send it via email instead. Even banks and insurance companies often just need your permission for sending you emails instead of physical copies. It doesn’t only save you time and effort but also saves them money for paper. Believe us, they will be thankful as well.

It will be challenging in the beginning but adopting these habits is the first step to go paperless at home or at work in 2018. Step-by-step the paper clutter will become less and you pave the way for a more relaxed and organized life. Subscribe to our blog here for more helpful tips, tricks, and stories on how to go paperless.

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[1] A lot has been written about the benefits of a paperless home or office. Here a few essential benefits: Reduction of the time spent on searching for information, no more misplaced or lost documents, high level of security thanks to cloud backups, easier sharing & accessibility of information, fewer expenses on paper and printing, environmental friendliness.