"Steph, do you have some ideas for how I can go paperless? I have so many piles and I don't want to file it all." ~ Sabrina from Georgia
Back in the 1970s there were numerous predictions that we would be a paperless society by now! That certainly has not happened, has it?! In fact, most of us have more paper to manage today than ever before.
Did you know that the average person in the United States uses 749 pounds of paper every year?
If the amount of paper around you causes you concern...
If you would like to go the paperless, or almost paperless, you can!
Today I'll share a few tips for how you can begin to free yourself from piles of paper, clear your desks and possibly save some trees in the process.
In some instances you can just stop the paper from coming to your location. In others, you may choose an electronic storage system rather than paper. I share a few ideas on both.
1 -- Make Sure Your Electronic System is Solid
Organization is Key
One of the reasons that we often keep paper copies of things is because we are afraid that we will not be able to find the item again. However, if you have piles all over your counters and desk, are you finding the item now? If your computer files are organized, you will be able to do a search and find what you are looking for quickly.
Make Sure You Back it Up!
If you are going to go paperless, you need to also make sure that you have a good backup system. Computer Crashed! 400 Gigs Gone! Don't Let this Happen to You!
2 -- Get Ready to Let Go
When you are deciding what to let go of and what to keep in physical form, ask yourself "What is the worst possible thing that would happen if I no longer had this item?" Determine what steps you would need to take to get the information again if you needed it. Can it be found on the internet? (Many things can be found there now.) Statistics show that 80 percent of the information we keep, we never refer to again. Do you really need to have it?
3 -- Contact Your Bank for Paperless Statements
Many people pay their bills on-line, but still receive their statements in paper form. Eliminate a lot of paper by having your statements sent to you electronically in PDF format. Most banks now offer this service for free.
4 -- Contact Your Credit Card Companies and Utility Companies for Paperless Statements
Almost all credit card companies and many utilities have the ability to sign up for paperless billing now. You still get notified, but it is in your email rather than in physical form. We get the email notifications and save them to a file on our computer (we do not print them). Searching for a specific bill has become much faster because we can use the computer search function. Make sure that you still look at the statements to ensure that the information is correct! Some will sign up for paperless billing and then never look at a statement.
5 -- Eliminate Paper Piles by Not Printing Your Email
I have to admit, this one is tough for me. If the email is of short length, I can easily read it on the screen, but if it is long, I almost always print it. However, the tip is still valid for many! Don't print unless you absolutely have to. If you want to save something for future reference, save it in your computer using a simple system so that you can search on what you have saved.
6 -- Make Sure You Don't Receive Things You Will Never Read
Do you get prospectus change notifications or annual reports from investments that you have in you retirement accounts, or other savings? Seriously, do you ever read them? I know some people do, but it is a very small percentage. If you are one that does not read them, go to your management website and elect to either stop the mailings or change them to email. There are some mailings that the financial organizations are required to continue to send, but much of it can be eliminated.
7 -- Clear The Junk and Clutter from Your Mailbox By Getting Off of Lists
This is a great time of year for this tip because it seems that December and January are filled with catalogs and magazines that hit my mailbox more than any other time of the year. If you don't want the catalogs or magazines, look in the front of the publication for an email address and send them a message telling them to take you off of their list. You will need to give them your mailing information as it is printed on the mail label
Want more on this topic:
8 -- Recycle All of Your Owner's Manuals
Do you have a big pile (either all together or spread out throughout your home or office) of different sized booklets that give you information about something you purchased? How many of them have you ever referenced? Next question, if something broke down, could you find it when you needed it? Instead, recycle the manuals after you have determined that everything is functioning properly with your new item. Then , either go to the manufacturer's web site and download the manual (to be saved electronically in a computer file) or check out www.Retrevo.com. Unless you reference your user's guide on a daily basis, this is possibly the fastest way to find an answer about one of your technical tools. You can download the manual, print the page from their troubleshooting guide, and you'll be back in business in no time! I do suggest that you save the version for your product on your computer because sometimes the on-line versions will be eliminated as they discontinue models.
9 -- 10 -- 11 -- What Do You Do?
I know that there are other options out there too. What do you do? Help me grow the list and give Sabrina some more ideas by leaving a comment below.
To your success!
PS - I LOVE hearing from my readers! Do you have a tip or trick that works well for you? Let me know! Do you have something that you are struggling with that you would like me to write about? Let me know that too!
©Stephanie LH Calahan (AKA StephCalahan) is a dynamic entrepreneur, nationally
known speaker, media personality, author, publisher; personal productivity and
organization consultant, and business coach. She understands that every person
is different and requires systems that work for them. As the founder and CEO of
Calahan Solutions, Inc., she and her consultants focus on conducting presentations,
personal coaching, assessments and productivity / organizing services for
entrepreneurs & time pressed professionals.
Learn more: www.CalahanSolutions.com or www.ProductiveAndOrganized.net