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7 Ways to Be Greener and More Productive with Your Printer

7 Ways to Be Greener and More Productive with Your Printer

Your printer is probably a utilitarian workhorse that you don’t think about until it’s broken. Why not spend a moment to consider the use of your printer so you can save some time and some paper too? Here are seven practical, easy-to-implement tips:

1. Keep supplies at the point of use. You can use Velcro (I like Industrial Strength) to stick frequently used supplies directly onto the side of your printer or the printer cart. This photo shows a rubber stamp that says “FAXED” that is attached with Velcro to the side of this printer/fax machine, for example.

fax stamp

    2. Print in “draft” mode to save ink. Using the draft printing mode of your printer’s settings can save you ink (and therefore money). When you need to print something formally, you can change the settings to normal.

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    scratch paper tray

      3. Keep a scratch paper tray. This photo at left shows paper trays located in the printer cart just beneath the printer, which have new, pristine paper in one tray and scratch paper in the other. When you print something that has only a few lines on it or otherwise can be used again, you can easily throw it in this tray.

      4. Make your printed documents come out in proper order. You can usually change your printer’s settings to print document pages in reverse order by default. The result? Papers come out already stacked in the right order, ready to staple. No more shuffling 36 pages of a document to reorder them! [EDITOR’S NOTE: Not all printers print backwards by default; test yours with a short document first.]

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      5. Use scratch paper by default, and print on new paper only when necessary. Before inserting a stack of scratch paper into your printer for use, put a sticky note on the back of the last page of the stack.

      scratch paper

        Then put that stack on top of some new paper. (See photo at right for illustration) When you’re ready to print on new paper, you can see the sticky note indicating the bottom of the scratch paper stack and pull it out quickly.

        6. Label your printer’s particularities. Are you (or your coworkers) forever asking, “Now which way does the paper go in? Face up or down?” Manufacturers often indicate this on the printer itself in some kind of international symbol language nobody seems to notice, but you can make it simple by just printing a label that says “FACE UP.” Here are a couple of examples.

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        face up label

           

          paper feed label

            7. Just don’t print. Of course, it’s better to not print at all if you can possibly do that. If you don’t already have software to make PDF documents, by all means, get that capability so you can print to PDF instead.  Try Adobe Acrobat or Cute PDF. Also try SnagIt (one of my personal favorites- see my previous article “A Professional Organizer’s Favorite Software” for more). SnagIt takes screenshots of regions of your screen or even scrolling web pages (saving the links!).

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            Appreciate your workhorse printer today! And if your printer is cranky, maybe implementing these tips will make it be nicer to you.

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            Last Updated on July 17, 2019

            The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

            The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

            What happens in our heads when we set goals?

            Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

            Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

            According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

            Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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            Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

            Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

            The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

            Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

            So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

            Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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            One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

            Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

            Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

            The Neurology of Ownership

            Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

            In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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            But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

            This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

            Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

            The Upshot for Goal-Setters

            So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

            On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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            It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

            On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

            But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

            More About Goals Setting

            Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

            Reference

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