Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

  • 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:

Advertising

  • 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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

More by this author

50 Simple Questions to Ask to Get to Know Someone Deeply Best Ways To Spend Your Thanksgiving Weekend This Year How to Create a Secure Password That You’ll Always Remember 20 Brilliant Self-Help Books You Need To Read How To Select Reading And Entertainment That Enriches Your Life

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

Read Next