Grace's Journey To A Paperless Life

Grace’s Journey To A Paperless Life

What do you do when you go paperless at the office, then move to a home office, and then transition to retirement? How do you create a paperless life?

Here’s a guest article by awesome DocumentSnap reader Grace in San Francisco. Take it away Grace:

I began my journey towards a paperless life in 1996, when I scanned thousands of pages for a death penalty case. Having easy access to those documents during the trial was transformative. Soon after I bought my own personal scanner and started in on the (admitted neatly filed) piles of paper.

In 2001, when I left the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and set up a home office appellate practice, I went paperless from day one. I had seen too many friends’ basements and attics stuffed with old case files and I didn’t want that to happen to me. Every document got scanned, and at the end of the appeal the paper file went to the client.

After retirement, the problem was a little different. Splitting our time between a city house and a country house meant that the document I needed was almost never where I happened to be. I took the final step and scanned every important piece of paper in my file cabinets and threw away most of the rest (I kept some for my husband, who is still more comfortable with paper). Everything is now stored in Dropbox, available wherever I am in the world.

Incoming paper gets scanned as it comes in, stored in Dropbox, mostly automated by Hazel, and then shredded. I have similar setups in both houses: a ScanSnap scanner, a computer, and a shredder. In one house I also have a ScanSnap SV600 book scanner, which I actually won in a Twitter contest put on by Fujitsu. It’s wonderful for old history books my husband gets from the library. I also scanned 15 years’ worth of paper journals with it.

Grace Desktop
Grace Desktop

The only stumbling block is getting my husband used to searching Dropbox first instead of going for the paper. But he’s getting there.

Many professionals had secretaries and IT folks all their careers, and after retirement are having difficulty learning to do things themselves. You need to treat technology like any other skill which you mastered in the past: read books (Brooks Duncan’s are wonderful); watch videos, take classes. Just do it, and fear nothing.

Thanks Grace! Such a great point about how learning to do this “paperless stuff” is just like any other skill. The only thing I’d add is to make sure you have a solid backup in place, which I’m guessing Grace does.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

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