Simple Steps for Going Paperless… or Maybe Just Less Paper

I think a lot of people don't attempt to go paperless because they can't imagine how they'd operate without any paper. Here's the dirty little secret of most paperless setups – they still have paper.

Trying to achieve paperless might be a little too ambitious for most people. Why don't you just try for less paper instead? That's much easier.

Here are some simple steps for using less paper:

Put a scanner on your desk.

If you have more than one person in your office, put a scanner on their desk too. If you make someone get up and walk to the scanner, they won't do it.

Get a Fujitsu Scansnap iX500. These get universally good reviews and people have been swearing by them for years. They're not the cheapest you can find, but they're worth it.

439354-fujitsu-scansnap-ix500

 

Start scanning everything.

Scan everything that comes across your desk. Get a pre-inked stamp that says “SCANNED” so you can stamp each document on the back. That way you'll know what's been scanned and what hasn't.

Come up with a file-naming convention.

This is a fancy way of saying that you should make sure everyone is naming the scanned documents the same way. Quick tip – if you include a date in your file names, use YYYY-MM-DD and include the leading zeros. That way you can sort it by date correctly.

Recycle the stuff you don't necessarily need a hard copy of.

If it's something that you think you'll need to access regularly (or if you know you'll have to reproduce a paper copy,) keep the paper copy. If not, recycle it. When it's time to close out a file, you can verify that everything is scanned by looking for any documents that don't have the SCANNED stamp on the back.

Back up your scanned files.

Make sure you have a good backup strategy that includes your scanned files. See my post on backup strategy tips.

Tell your clients that all of your files are electronic.

If you are in a business where a client has a file (like a lawyer,) let them know that if they want a copy of their file, you will only provide an electronic copy.

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