This is how I reduce using a lot of paper. Or at least, how I try to. A reader asked me to blog more about it – so here it is so far!
I went on this huge Scan-a-thon a while back, and scanned ALL of my documents into the computer into PDF instead of keeping them filed away.
I think I got rid of about 80lbs of files. The only papers I kept (but scanned just in case) where the ones where I needed the official document.
It was pretty simple. I bought a scanner and I just started scanning like a mofo.
I even scanned in receipts, but I scanned them in with any other pertinent information like invoices, or a warranty if it came with one so that it all become ONE (.pdf) document and I could easily just print Page 3 for the warranty if that’s all I needed.
I also employed a kind of structure for my folders and a naming convention for my files.
I wanted something that would represent all the different areas of my life, with very distinct categories so they wouldn’t overlap and leave me confused about whether it went into Folder A or Folder B.
1. Government: All things government related, even taxes.
2. Banking: All my loan amounts, my banking statements, investments
3. Career: Old projects, current projects, client recommendations, praises
5. Personal Lists + Articles
I always do this. It’s a kind of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) thing with me.
(See how everything neatly sorts by the name because I put the first General Category up front)?
[…] = I have to write in the category or name. The ones not in […]’s are static
1. Bank Statement: [Name of Bank]_Statement_[Year Month]
2. Tax: Tax_Statement_[Year Month]
3. Article from Web: Article_[Name of Article]_[Where From]
4. Recipes: [Recipe]_[Where From]_[Name of Recipe]
You get the idea.
I generally don’t print anything. No emails, nothing unless I REALLY need to. I print maybe 2 pieces of paper a week, if that.
Anything I need to know, I use paper that’s just been lying around that I’ve used, and I make notes in it. Or I use a notebook.
If clients hand me business cards, I input all the data into my Tungsten E2 Palm Handheld and I usually hand back the card or throw it out when I get home. I never keep business cards unless I don’t have time to input the information at that very moment.
ARTICLES OR NOTES TO SELF
Any articles or information I need to write down and keep, I put it in a Word document, then I save it with my naming convention under the correct folder structure and then store it on my portable External Harddrive (60GB – but I probably need a 120GB at this point).
This portable drive gets backed up on my 1TB drive every week or so, and the portable 60GB drive goes with me EVERYWHERE with the very MOST important information I need. I keep documents that I absolutely cannot lose if let’s say everything burned, even my 1TB. LOL.
I’m a fan of notebooks when I’m in meetings. I’d love to be able to just type everything into my laptop but sometimes it’s pretty annoying in a meeting to do that, and you can’t make shorthand notes as quickly as you can on a notebook with a pen.
I also use Post-Its to make short notes to myself, then I crumple them and toss ‘em once I’m done.
Or to save on even more paper, I use free software called Desktop Post-Its from 3M. I make notes to myself for my desktop and virtually Trash the note when I’m finished.