Going paperless

Less paper, more time for you (and more trees)

Have a look around your home and your office. What do you see? Chances are paper, possible loads of it. At least that’s what I can see now at my home. It’s amazing how so much paper can creep into my life!

It was even funnier to hear my mother say how she’s using the rainy weather in her city to clear her files and folders. My mom is decluttering her paper! On her own! This is so awesome!

While we may not be stuck inside because of rain, we all can take 30 minutes to reduce the paper piles at home or in the office and gain control of the paper flood!

Benefits of converting your papers into electronic files

For me, my many international moves got me started to check what paper documents I really needed to keep. After all, I didn’t want to haul kilos of unnecessary weight with me. Saving space on the bookshelves or in the archives is fabulous. So much less to dust!

Later on, it was working with teams based in different countries. We had to keep electronic files which everyone could access. Having the documents available everywhere and being able to search for the files are great advantages of converting your papers into electronic files.

If you want to re-organise your files, you can do so at the click of a mouse button. Plus, you can back-up your files, keep them in the cloud and can access them, even if the original paper files were soaked wet or burnt.

Where to start

Check the mail in your PO box. You may be blessed not receiving a lot of paper mail in this region already. Yet, can you unsubscribe from any junk mail? Providers like Catalog Choice and DMA Choice let you control what you’ll receive.

Review your documents and decide which you no longer need to keep. You can follow this document retention schedule to easily determine what to keep. Shred the unneeded ones to avoid anyone else taking on your identity!

Request electronic bank and credit card statements. This may also save you administrative fees. While we are at this topic, sign up for electronic bills (e.g. phone, utilities), too.

If you are a vivid reader, can you read your favourite magazine online? It will be promptly delivered to your Kindle or tablet.

Getting rid of books is for many people (including me) a difficult undertaking. If you can, donate your books to the local library, start a library or book exchange at work or sell them at a flea market.

Do you keep the many take out menus delivered to your home? Throw those out where you don’t order from. Keep the ones you use in a binder and ideally store it in the kitchen or near your phone for easy access.

Digitalise your documents

Invest in a fast and reliable scanner, if you don’t have one already. Buy a scanner that will save all pages of the original as one PDF document. You don’t want to have each page saved as a separate document as this increases your time to search for documents.

Scanning documents can take some time and many people become overwhelmed by it. Chop your scanning project into smaller chunks and scan for 15-30 minutes, for examples. This makes it a lot easier on you, especially if you have a flatbed scanner. Trust me, I’ve been here, too.

As you are creating your filing structure, decide what makes sense for you! How do you think and remember the different topics? You can store the documents in folders from A-Z (e.g. Dodge Charger, The Springs Villa, Emirates NBD) or by topic (e.g. car, house, bank), for example. Whatever you chose, make it work for you!

This next step may sound counter-intuitive. Organise your paper you received today. This includes scanning and shredding the original and filing the electronic version. Only you have taken care of today’s documents, address documents from the past.

This way, you get set up for successfully reducing your paper going forward and you don’t have to tackle older documents within a certain time frame. It helps you to remove the pressure from you!

Consolidate your to-do lists

We all have plenty of post it stickers on our screens, desks, phones, in our purses, on the fridge. Consolidate your to-do lists by using applications like Todoist or Wunderlist. One master to-do list is so much easier for you to follow, see with one glimpse what’s on it (don’t shriek, it’ll be okay!) and still get that great feeling when you tick one completed item off!

Are you drowning in your files and papers? Do you need help identifying which documents to keep? Or how to organise them? Contact me to see how I can support you in reducing the paper in your office and/or home and lifting the weight from your shoulders.

Until next time,

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