Many people, businesses, and organizations are making a concerted effort to go paperless. Personally, I have made a few runs at it, but have yet to go totally paperless. I do have much less paper around than I used to, though, and I love it. But is it really worth it? Let’s explore that first.
3 Reasons to Try Going Paperless
1. Less clutter. For many people, this is the biggest advantage. Those little notes, receipts, and sticky notes just pile up all around. Paperless living takes all of that away.
2. Better on the environment. Obviously, the less paper we use, the less has to be made. I am not an environmentalist by any stretch, but this is one thing I can do to help.
3. Better organization. This may seem strange, but you can only file paper in one location unless you make multiple copies, write on those copies the other places this same paper is stored, etc. In going paperless, you can tag notes as many ways as you want, so you can find those things anywhere.
Does Going Paperless Save Time and/or Money?
Going paperless takes time on the front end, especially if you decide to scan in all your existing paper. (Personally, I chose to keep most of my current papers “as is,” and just scan in new stuff.) But, once you have your system in place, you will be amazed at how much time you save, especially in retrieving files. No more digging through filing cabinets; you simply do a quick search, and there is your file.
As far as money goes, going paperless can save a few dollars here and there. It probably won’t change your retirement, but you might notice some subtle differences. Here are a few ways it can save you money.
- No more postage. If you use online banking, email statements, etc., you don’t have to worry about postage stamps, or trips to the post office, for that matter. With stamps getting ever-more expensive, this might really be a savings over time!
- No late fees. We have all probably had a late fee incurred, simply because we didn’t get a check in the mail in time. With online banking, you simply set it up, and autodrafts from your account on the date you specify. Set it up before the usual “due” date and you will never have another late fee.
- Less storage “stuff.” No more files, cabinets, trays, labels, etc.
- No paper! If you are going paperless, you don’t have to buy paper.
6 Tools to Help You Go Paperless
Now that you see just some of the benefits, here are some tools to use to go paperless.
1. Evernote.com. I cannot stress the usage of this product enough. Evernote lets you save documents, web clips, pictures, scans, pdfs, audio, and more. Then, it syncs all that data across any platform where you use the Internet. Best of all, it’s free. There is a premium version, but you would have to use it a lot (and I mean a lot) to need it. Put your notes in Evernote, tag them, and they are fully searchable. Here is an excellent index to all of Michael Hyatt’s posts on what you can do with Evernote. And be sure to check out Jonathan Milligan’s 21 creative uses of Evernote here on ChristianPF.
2. Dropbox.com (or another similar program). I am not a fan of Dropbox, except in rare instances (massive files, for example), but it does allow you to sync any file from your computer to any other computer.
3. A great scanner. I recommend the Fujistu ScanSnap s300, which is incredibly fast and can be set up to automatically put your scans into Evernote. I keep one file by my office computer. I put paper in there that I want to save, and when there is a lot, I just have a scanning party.
4. Google Docs (or another online document creator). Again, syncing is the key here, as you can create documents and sync them across computers, so you don’t have to print them out.
5. Online banking. Nearly every bank, no matter how small, has online banking. Many will even give you some perks for using email or web-delivered statements. The set-up takes a few minutes, but then your bills are paid and your statements come to you automatically.
6. Email. This may seem like a strange inclusion, but email can be used for many purposes that paper is. Instead of printing that short web clip to read to your kids, email it to yourself and read it from your phone or tablet.
You may never go totally paperless, but I recommend that you try it for an extended period of time. Give it three months, for example, and just see what you think. Like me, you may find that you need to use some paper, but that your life is a lot less cluttered with these computer-based and online tools.
What other tips do you have for going paperless? Leave a comment below!