Finding Time to Go Paperless: De-clutter with 3 Time and Productivity Tips

Finding time to deal with all the paper that comes into your life on a regular basis can seem like an endless challenge … don’t you agree?

You may remember that I tend to be a paper person.  Not that long ago I carved out some time and worked hard to de-clutter my office, removing pound after pound of paper.  It was a great feeling – and an awful lot of work.

So, while I am not likely, myself, to go paperless, I was intrigued by the post “Why I Went Paperless” by Jamie Rubin when my VA shared it with me.  Jamie also has a companion piece on his blog, offering an update on his paperless process.  Jamie’s focus is on how Evernote can help with moving toward a paperless lifestyle; however, I would add that there are lots of other tools available (and constantly in development) that can also be used.

Many of the advantages of going paperless are self-evident.  It cuts down on clutter, may help reduce your carbon footprint, and can make it easier to find important documents.

However, finding time to move in a paperless direction necessitates making some fundamental changes in the ways that you work.  Jamie outlined his everyday process as follows:

  1. Check the mailbox after work
  2. Toss out the junk
  3. If anything is left, determine if I need to scan it.
  4. Scan to Evernote
  5. Do I need to keep the original? If not, shred it, otherwise file it.
  6. Check my paper inbox
  7. Repeat steps 4-5

NOTE:  The “paper inbox” is a receptacle for any paper received during the course of the day that needs to be processed/decided about.

Here are the three time and productivity tips that I would suggest you try, as you think about going paperless.

  • For starters, I suggest that you do an inventory of how you currently use and retain paper.  Are there paperless systems that you already have in place?  Do you have a repository of important documents already on your computer, for example?  You can build on this!
  • Remember, if you decide to move in this direction, it isn’t something that you need to do all at once.  You will be making a significant lifestyle change.  Choose one area of your life where you would like to explore going paperless.  Maybe you have a recipe box that you’d like to be able to access and/or share more easily.  Or maybe you’d like to keep track of your tax bills or car repair invoices.  The possibilities are really endless … but the key here is to start small so that you don’t overwhelm yourself.
  • While it’s very important to start small, as with any change, it’s also important to persist steadily.  The adage, “Practice makes perfect” applies here.  Keep at it, so that the processes you are putting into place become habitual.  This generally means sticking with it for at least 21-28 days.

BONUS TIP:  At the end of that time period, assess your progress and give yourself a big pat on the back.  Now you have more information and can decide whether you want to continue on your paperless path, and what you’d like to add to your digital cache!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I have no material connection with Evernote and have not received any compensation for writing this content.

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