Clear Your Paper Clutter by Moving Towards Paperless
Like many people around the world, one of your New Year’s Resolutions probably included, “get more organized.” And more than likely, reducing paper clutter is a large part of this. The time and cost involved with handling and managing our paper clutter is enormous. In fact, according to Gartner Group, the average company spends $20 to file a document, $120 to find a misfiled document, and $220 to reproduce a lost document. Meanwhile, 7.5 percent of all documents get lost, 3 percent get misfiled, and the average professional spends 50% of their time looking for information.
While a good paper management system can definitely improve your chances of finding what you need when you need it, you still have the issues of printing costs, storage costs and maintenance. One solution that all business and home environments should consider is a paperless office.
While the task of creating a paperless environment may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be:
- Automate as many forms, statements and processes as possible reducing the need to print the related paper and decreasing the amount of incoming paper you receive. Consider online fax services, electronic invoicing and statements, electronic signature programs, and online sharing and collaboration systems.
- Nearly 80% of the paper you are storing is not even needed! Clean out your paper files to reduce the amount that will need to be scanned and stored electronically. Hold an office clean-out day (at home or work) or consider Life Made Simple’s Productive Environment Day.
- Choose the right scanner for your needs. Consider how much scanning you will be doing, the types of information you will be scanning (documents, pictures, microfiche, books, etc.) and the ability to scan duplex. A must-have feature for moving towards paperless is OCR (optical character recognition) software. This will allow your documents to be searchable and editable when in electronic form. My favorite desktop scanners are Fujitsu’s ScanSnap S1500 for PC or ScanSnap S1500M for Mac.
- Determine how you will store, organize and retrieve your documents. I am a big proponent of cloud-based systems. A good cloud-computing system will provide a secure, online location to store your documents, include a strong search feature so you can find what you need quickly, allow you to organize your information in different ways and have a simple sharing and collaboration feature.
Most importantly, set a plan for working towards your paperless environment, and create the systems and habits needed to maintain it. The upfront effort will be worth many, many years of cost and time savings.
Lori Vande Krol
Life Made Simple, LLC