Going Paperless – 15 Tips to Help You Get There

There’s a lot of talk out there about going paperless, but is this really just a pipe dream? Well, it could be. After all, it would take a Herculean effort to go 100% paperless. But honestly, does it have to be an “all or nothing” thing? Why not work on eliminating some of your paper, and call it good enough! 

What are the benefits of having less paper in your life? An obvious one is to eliminate all those annoying paper piles (that seem to take on a life of their own) and thin out our overstuffed file cabinets. Another benefit is to have access to our paper documents when we’re away from home. This is especially relevant now that many of us have mobile devices with us at all times. Storing documents in “the cloud” can also protect them in the event of fire, flood or other natural disaster.  And finally, it’s always nice to save a few trees!

Are you convinced? Great! So here’s a list of 15 things you can do to start achieving these benefits:

1. Think twice before printing. Do you really need a paper copy, and where will you put it?

2. If you’re going to go ahead and print, use “Print Preview” first to insure that you’re printing exactly what you want.

3. Print to PDF. Many software programs have this capability, or you can get free PDF Converter software online.

4. Why print when you can Bookmark! Use the bookmark or favorites function in your web browser to create a system of folders.

5. Use software like Evernote to save notes, documents and web clippings– and make them fully searchable!

6. Create folders in your Email program to file emails that you might want to reference later. Usually you can set up filters or rules to file them automatically.

7. Use services like Dropbox, Shoeboxed, or AboutOne to archive documents, receipts, photos and more online.

8. Pay bills online or set up automatic debits. While you’re at it, opt for online-only statements so you’ll no longer have to save the paper copies.

9. Use financial software like or to keep track of spending, and get rid of all your paper receipts (unless they’re tax related) once the product return period has expired.

10. Keep an online calendar, address book, and task list so you can access them when you’re away from home

11. Rather than printing them all, store your digital photos in an online gallery such as Picasa Web Albums, Flickr, Kodak, or Shutterfly.  This will also serve as an offsite backup for your photos.

12. Search for new recipes online as you need them, and throw out all those old cookbooks and recipe files.

13. Read the news online and subscribe to blogs and “Ezines” instead of paper magazines.

14. Invest in a decent computer and high-speed internet connection so that access to your documents will be trouble-free and easy. And always remember to back-up everything on your computer!

15. If you really want to get serious about going paperless, purchase a high-speed document scanner like the or system. (Or hire someone to do the scanning for you.)  To save time, only scan new documents and gradually purge their older counterparts from your paper files.

Like I said, it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing.”  Pick just a few of these strategies to implement and start reducing the paper in your life right now!


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