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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 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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