Do you want to go paperless?
Your answer might be “Yes!”, or it could be a solid “Maybe. It depends.”
If your answer is “Absolutely Not!”, you might be on the wrong website. I’m happy to have you though. You’re always welcome.
I’m Brooks Duncan, creator of DocumentSnap. Whether you’re new to the idea of going paperless or you just want to pick up a few tips to up your game, this page is for you.
What Going Paperless Is Not
“Paperless” is a bit of a loaded word. To be honest, I am not a big fan of it, but it’s the word that everyone uses so here we are.
I wrote about my thoughts on the word paperless here.
This is one of those cases where it is helpful to define what something isn’t before we can define what it is:
1. Going paperless is NOT getting rid of every piece of paper in your life.
Even if you want to do this, it is probably not going to happen. Don’t feel bad because you still use paper for some things, and don’t be frustrated because your spouse or partner still likes to print out paper calendars and tape them to your fridge (that last one was a reminder to myself).
2. Going paperless does NOT mean you have to give up your notebooks or paper books.
I get it. You are more creative when you write in a notebook. You love the feel of a nice pen across artisanal paper. You prefer to jot notes in the margin and underline and highlight. There’s nothing you like better than unplugging and curling up with a paper book.
Going paperless (at least the way I think of it) does not mean you can’t do these things. I’ve been known to shock people by pulling out a notebook myself:
(Yes, a friend took this picture because she was so shocked that Mr. Paperless was using paper. I guess I have a reputation.)
3. Going paperless does NOT mean that your bills will go unpaid.
There are things you can do to make sure you still pay your bills even without them stacking up on your desk.
4. Going paperless does NOT mean you will lose all your documents in a hard drive crash.
I mean, you could. You could also have a fire or flood (I hope you don’t!) and lose all your physical paper too. As a smart DocumentSnap reader, you will put things in place so a hard drive crash becomes as uneventful as possible.
Here are some things I learned from a computer failure.
What Is Going Paperless?
So with that out of the way, what IS going paperless?
To me, going paperless is about being more mindful of the paper that you use, and being more mindful of the paper that you keep.
I like to think about it like I am giving every piece of paper a job: if I am going to use it or if I am going to keep it, it has to be doing something for me.
Why Go Paperless?
Everyone has their own reasons. Usually, when you hear about going paperless, you hear about “going green” or having a clean desk or reducing storage space.
If those are important to you, awesome!
My initial goal for going paperless was to reduce storage space, but over time I have found that the biggest benefit is having access to the document that I need, right when I need it. It’s very empowering.
The Three Steps To Go Paperless
Going paperless is simple, but it may or may not be easy. At its core, here is what is involved:
- Capture: Take your paper and make it electronic. This is usually done with a document scanner, but you can use your mobile device too. The key is to have an easy and convenient way to capture a quality image of your document.
- Organize: Make it so that you can actually find these documents when you need it.
- Protect: Make sure your electronic documents are backed up and secure.
I’ve created a Paperless Cheat Sheet for you that lists out the tools, hardware, and software I recommend to get all this done. Get it here.
I am also a huge fan of the Paperless Field Guide by my friend David Sparks. It has tons of resources, tutorials, and explainer videos that will help you go paperless in friendly, plain English. I learned a lot from it too!
How Will DocumentSnap Help?
1 – The Blog
The DocumentSnap Blog has been around since 2008 and has a lot (and I mean a lot) of information on going paperless. Here are some of the most popular posts of all time:
- How I Manage My Life Without Paper
- In Praise Of The Paperless Inbox
- Are Your Documents Findable Or Just Searchable?
- My (Mostly) Paperless Reading System
- How To Split PDF Documents Into Single Pages Using Mac OS X
- How To Fix PDF Search In Windows 7 and Windows 8 64-Bit
- ScanSnap iX500 Now Supports Wireless Scanning To A Computer
- ScanSnap Receipt – Initial Overview
- How To Combine PDF Files in Mac OSX Using Automator To Make A Service
- ScanSnap and Hazel Is A Match Made In Paperless Heaven
- Easily Split PDF Pages Using OSX Preview
- How To Switch Between Computers For ScanSnap iX500 Wi-Fi Scanning
- A Cautionary Tale About Your Digital Afterlife
- Use Breevy On Windows To Supercharge Paperless File Naming
- You Are Responsible For Your Own Data
2 – The Newsletter
I produce Paper Cuts, the DocumentSnap newsletter. In every issue, there is an actionable tip to help you on your paperless journey.
People seem to really like it, and every year a large percentage asks me to send it more frequently. How many email newsletters do you hear that about?
If you’re interested, you can sign up here:
3 – The Guides
In the past, I created guides to help people go paperless. Now, I just point people to David Sparks’ Paperless Field Guide. It really is the best.
Click here to learn more about the Paperless Field Guide.
You Can Start (Or Re-Start) Now
Like any other change, there is never a perfect time to start. There will always be one more thing to wait for.
Chances are, you don’t have the perfect setup yet. This was what my desk looked like when I started going paperless and started DocumentSnap:
My desk didn’t even have legs! It was held up by boxes!
I wrote about my workspace change here, but my point is – since there will never be a perfect time or circumstance to get started, you might as well just get started now.
And if you’ve tried to go paperless in the past and it didn’t stick? Not a problem. It’s a great time to give it another go.
Remember, usually we are the ones standing in our own way.
Just start with whatever scanning device you have (you can upgrade later), create a simple filing structure (you can improve later) and make sure everything is backed up (that one can’t wait until later). Then improve as you go.
Thank you so much for visiting DocumentSnap. I look forward to hearing about your paperless success.
PS: I’ve created a Paperless Cheat Sheet for you that lists out the tools, hardware, and software I recommend to get all this done. Get it here.