3 Steps to Going Paperless

Digitizing and scanning your papers can free up space and make finding your information easier. Here’s three ideas for how to get started.

Weeding out old files and digitizing others can free up much-needed space.

Beyond reducing the amount of paper that flows into your office, you can also drastically reduce the amount of paper you’re currently storing in file drawers of binders. Here are 3 steps to freeing up some much-needed space:

Whittle it. I’m pretty good about keeping my files down to the essentials, but even I was able to clear out about 15% of my stored paper by weeding through my old documents and removing what was no longer useful or relevant. It’s easiest to work on one drawer (or even one part of a drawer) at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed. Keep a recycle bin and a bag or box for shredding handy, and go through each file, folder, binder, or document with a cold, hard eye and keep only what you really need—and toss the rest. You should be left with only your key documents. Put aside any unusual docs like official government notices (deeds, birth/death/marriage/divorce certificates).

Scan it. Aside from those official documents, keeping the paper that’s left simply isn’t necessary if you can find alternate ways of storing the information—it’s the information that’s valuable, not the paper it’s printed on. Especially in the age of easy searches on our computers, sometimes it makes perfect sense to centralize your information on your computer as much as possible. Scanning your papers might be easier than you think. I recommend a high-speed scanner/software solution from The Neat Company, called NeatWorks ADF. When you’re doing a major scanning project such as this one, you really need a scanner designed to scan multipage documents, as well as software that can help facilitate the process. I recommend a solution that can scan to PDF in addition to a proprietary database. Alternatively, you can use a scanning service like OfficeDrop or Shoeboxed, where you send them your documents and they scan them for you. Once the documents are scanned and backed up, you can shred or recycle the originals.

Store it. Remember the unusual docs we set aside earlier, like government certificates, home loan docs, and other errata? Definitely scan those too, but I suggest keeping the originals somewhere safe, like a lockbox or safety deposit box. While you can get copies of them again from the agencies responsible, it’s usually a lot of trouble to do so, and simply easier to keep a small amount of these papers on hand.

By doing what I’ve described, I was able to dramatically reduce the amount of paper that I’m storing. In fact, everything has been edited down to one desktop file box about seven inches deep—that’s it. No big file drawers or boxes, no stacks of papers. One box, no more—all the old papers are gone now, with empty space left in their wake.

If you’re wondering how to implement these strategies, we’d be happy to chat with you. Contact us for a complimentary strategy session by going to http://www.customlivingsolutions.com/Apply

And if you’d like latest tips and advice on productivity and organizing delivered right to your inbox, enter your email address below to subscribe. It’s FREE!



Leave a Reply