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Want to Go Paperless? Avoid These 4 Big Mistakes

Want to Go Paperless? Avoid These 4 Big Mistakes

Resolved to go paperless but want to do it the smart way? In this article we’ll cover 4 big mistakes you might be making in your quest to go paperless.

Mistakes to Avoid When You Go Paperless

Mistake #1 – Not stopping the flow of paper to you

  • Are you still receiving paper magazines? Cancel those subscriptions now: how often do they just sit around and pile up before you get a chance to read them?
    • If you love your magazines and need a digital alternative, try the Next Issue app.
  • Sign up for paperless billing and avoid a ton of paper items being sent to your mailbox.
  • Unsubscribe from unwanted mailings the easy way: use an app like Paper Karma to take a picture of the to and from addresses on the mailings and they will take care of the rest.

Mistake #2 – Letting Paper Pile Up

To be successful when you go paperless you need to stop paper from piling up around you.

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  • Handle paper when you bring it into the house:
    • Recycle or throw away mail or notices you don’t need. Be sure to use Paper Karma to stop the next item from that company even showing up at your door.
    • Designate a spot for all paper that needs to be handled, e.g. If you have a bill you need to pay, you can put it a designated bin for bills.
      • Don’t forget to sign up for paperless billing for any recurring bills.
    • Any papers that need to be filed should be scanned immediately and then shredded or recycled.
    • If you need to keep the original document for some reason, scan it first and then file in a safe spot.
      • I generally keep receipts that may be needed for returns in a file for the current tax year.
      • Small item receipts get shredded after a couple of months, unless needed for tax purposes.
      • Large ticket receipts should be filed until you no longer have the item.
  • More companies and vendors are now allowing for paperless receipt, which will really help us all go paperless.
    • Forward any receipts you have to your Evernote receipt folder and tag with the date, company, and item (if appropriate).
  • Ask family and friends to send emails or eCards rather than paper cards. Check out AmericanGreetings.com or Apps like Red Stamp to send nice digital cards.

Mistake #3 – Scanning Incorrectly When Trying to Go Paperless

I know a gentleman who spent hours and hours scanning all his documents in his effort to go paperless. I thought this was great until his wife told me the details of how he scanned them. Please don’t repeat these mistakes in your paperless quest:

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  • Scanning unrelated documents in one big lump. Sure it might make scanning quicker, but then you have big .pdf files of papers that are unrelated and can’t be filed electronically in a meaningful way.
  • Saving your scanned documents to any old spot on your hard drive.
  • Not having a system for being able to find the documents you scan.

This gentleman’s wife had no idea where to find anything he’d scanned. She said it was now much harder to find anything and always had to ask him to try to locate a document. There were no productivity improvements that came from this project.

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Avoid these scanning mistakes by scanning like papers together, and maintaining a good electronic filing system to be able to find documents you save. I use Evernote to accomplish the latter, replicating my filing system in Evernote via Notebooks and tags. The search within Evernote is exemplary and allows the user to easily search within a document for the keywords they need to identify it. Especially helpful is the Evernote Pro PDF search capability, which is a must for anyone wanting to go paperless.

Mistake #4 Not Having a Backup System in Place

Whether your scanned documents are on your hard drive or in the cloud, be sure to have a backup. I recommend a minimum of one set locally, and one in the cloud.

Have you started your paperless quest yet? If so share your best tips to go paperless in the comments below. Also let us know how these tips help you on your journey.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

You may think that you don’t have time for office organization, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider.

Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer.

A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact, maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an on-going project, instead of a massive assault.

So, if you’re ready to get started, the following organizing tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

1. Purge Your Office

De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?

Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc.

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Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

2. Gather and Redistribute

Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.

3. Establish Work “Zones”

Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.)

Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.

4. Close Proximity

Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.

5. Get a Good Labeler

Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.

6. Revise Your Filing System

As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased.

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What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups.

Here’re some storage ideas for creating a smooth filing system:

  • Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
  • Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
  • Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
  • Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
  • Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
  • Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
  • File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

Learn more tips on organizing your files here: How to Organize Your Files for Better Productivity

7. Clear off Your Desk

Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.

If you have difficulty declutter stuff, this Declutter Formula will help you throw away stuff without regretting later.

8. Organize your Desktop

Now that you’ve streamlined your desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it.

Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.

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Don’t forget your computer desktop! Make sure the files or images are all in organized folders. I’d recommend you clear your computer desktop everyday before you leave work.

9. Organize Your Drawers

Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc.

Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.

10. Separate Inboxes

If you work regularly with other people, create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.

11. Clear Your Piles

Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones.

Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.

12. Sort Mails

Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .

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13. Assign Discard Dates

You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded.

Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.

14. Filter Your Emails

Some emails are important to read, others are just not that important.

When you use the filter system to label different types of emails, you know their priority and which to reply first.

Take a look at these tips to achieve inbox zero: The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero

15. Straighten Your Desk

At the end of the day, do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.

Bottom Line

Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way.

Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working and you’ll enjoy being clutter free!

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Featured photo credit: Alesia Kazantceva via unsplash.com

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