in Productivity

The Point of Paperless: Eliminating Paper-bourne Clutter

2013 is for me the year where I am completing my transition to a fully paperless life in my business initiatives, and in my personal life. In order to get a picture of what this actually means, I’ve thought long and hard about the definition of the term “paperless”.

I’ve been intending to post about this thinking process for a while, but was motivated to do so when I saw this quote from Jordyn Russell of Fujitsu America:

Tracking invoices digitally is one of the many benefits of PDF. And yet, we continue to print a large majority of invoices that were once PDF.

Coupled with the fact that “the average US office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year”, it really is time that we consider just how much paper we actually use, and how much we realistically need to use.

So what does “paperless” mean? Wikipedia states that:

A paperless office is a work environment in which the use of paper is eliminated or greatly reduced

Eliminated or greatly reduced? Which is it?

Well I think that eliminated (i.e. paperless being “without paper”) would be the perfect goal, but the problem with perfection is that it is unattainable.

I think it’s far more realistic to set the sites on greatly reduced. In other words, paperless being “less paper”. Significantly less. Eliminate it wherever possible. Without getting stupid about it…

Paper comes into my life all the time – invoices, bank statements and similar items come in by hard copy all the time. Throughout the typical day you collect additional paper-bourne clutter as you go about life. Receipts, business cards, tickets, brochures, etc all end up in little piles in your wallet, car and house.

As David Sparks said beautifully in the Paperless MacSparky Field Guide:

“We are bombarded with bits of paper and digital information every day. Much of it (too much of it) is trash but some of it is absolutely essential.”

Making front-end decisions when processing bits of paper into your life is critical. Having the tools to do so is important. I plan to continue posting from time-to-time on this journey talking about my workflows and tools I use.

What’s your view on paperless – do you aim for total elimination of paper-bourne clutter or do you seeks great reduction?

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