Paperless is Possible with the Right Tools

There are lots of tools and techniques that can help you go paperless, but what are the best ones? Here are my top choices for creating your paperless office.

One of the biggest requests I get from clients and people in the Custom Living Solutions community is to help them go paperless and get rid of all the paper on their desks and in their offices. I wish I had the magic wand to make all their paper go away (wouldn’t it be nice?), but sadly, that wand hasn’t been invented yet! Until it is, we have to put in a bit of effort to reduce the paper that’s around us. Luckily, there are some great tools that can help make it happen – here are a few of my favorites:

Scan your stuff. Think about how you access most information today. In all likelihood, you probably spend a good chunk of time looking online or searching your computer for the stuff you need. Rifling through large quantities of reference paperwork in file cabinets is time-consuming and doesn’t mesh well with modern ways of searching for information. You can bridge the two worlds by scanning your documents and storing them on your computer using a tool like NeatDesk or a ScanSnap, or you can scan them and store them in an online file cabinet like OfficeDrop. Once your documents are electronic, you can easily search through them just like you’d search on the internet, making it much easier to find what you need when you need it.

Don’t print – capture. I beg of you – please STOP printing things out! Unless you have a specific reason for printing a particular document (i.e. you need to physically hand it to someone), more likely than not the item you just printed will end up as clutter around your desk. Most of what gets printed simply isn’t used. Instead of printing out a web page you want to remember or an email you want to keep for reference, try using a capture tool like Evernote, where you can grab complete web pages, take notes, and forward in your emails, creating your own personalized reference library. As a bonus, since Evernote is web-based you’ll be able to access your library from anywhere – no more of the “I think I left that paper on my desk!”

Edit and annotate. Have you ever been sent an email with a PDF form in it that you then have to print, fill out, and then scan and email, fax, or (gasp!) snail mail back to the sender? What a waste of both time and paper. All you need to make this a completely paper-free workflow is a PDF annotation tool, which will let you fill out forms and digitally stamp your signature – saving you from having to print out a document! If you’re on a PC, Nitro PDF Reader will let you annotate PDFs, and if you’re on a Mac, PDFpen functions similarly. You DON’T need the full version of Adobe Acrobat to do these simple tasks!

Of course, there are many other strategies to help you go paperless – these are just a few. What are your favorite tools and techniques for reducing the paper that’s in your office and your life? Sound off in the comments!

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

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