Couple of days ago, I received a link from a colleague to an article. The author talked about how his company declared war on paper by taking extreme measures such as hiding printers in hard to find places and getting rid of toilet paper from bathrooms (they installed Aqua Clean WC which cleans with water).
Gotta love the modern workplace.
While I cannot think of a scenario where the use of paper should not be avoided, the reality is that paper is an important part of our modern society. It touches our lives in so many different forms – receipts, contracts, checks, warranties, packaging, lecture notes, passports to name a few.
Whether you need to store receipts for expense or tax purposes, or you love the tangible feel of taking lecture notes on paper, here are few techniques and tips to help you manage your paperwork better.
Scan and Throw it Away
For a lot of people, stuffing receipts into their pockets or handbags is a second habit. I belong to this group — after being overcharged on more than one occasion, the receipts were the only way to prove my innocence to the bank. Whether we need it to claim warranty or return something, the receipt is a tangible record and a reality.
The truth is that we do not need to hold onto the receipts. Take a picture and toss in the recycle bin. You do not need it. Most, if not all companies, accept digital copies of expense receipts and the IRS has been accepting them since 1997.
Just make sure you store digital copies somewhere safe and secure, such as the cloud. Simply leaving them on laptop or phone is a disaster in making. The data could be lost or destroyed. Seriously. Do not do it.
Scan Once, Share Many Times
In many cases, your paperwork could be scanned once and shared multiple times — lectures notes, signed contracts, real-estate paperwork and even legal documents. Just ask your lawyer, real-estate agent or accountant if they’ll accept a scanned PDF and share digitally.
Storing paperwork digitally has another advantage: you can access what you are looking for from any device or anywhere in the world.
Search by the Contents of Your Scans
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a technology used by paperless tools to extract contents of the paper document from the picture. These contents are then used to facilitate searching. For example, suppose you are looking for a receipt for a pizza you ordered for the office party. Typing in ‘pizza’ in the search box will bring up all documents containing the word pizza.
Paperistic – A cool new way to help you store and share paperwork
Full disclosure: Paperistic is our upcoming service. We have been passionately building Paperistic to help you capture, store and share your paperwork, all in one place.
Here’s how it works: use your mobile phone to take a picture of the paper, then post to Paperistic –- it’s that easy. No need to fiddle around with adjusting corners or finding the perfect angle — it’s done automatically for you. Sharing is a key feature and one where we’ve put in a lot of time and energy. You could share with other users directly or by email. Even share publicly with the whole world (or download PDF if you’re into that).
Search heavy users will be happy to know that they can search by the contents of their scans.
If this excites you, please visit our homepage and enter your email address and we’ll give you early access and send you a beta version.
Can you think of a single place where paper is actually necessary? Here’s a parting thought: according to this article, at the rates people read books in North America, it is generally better for the environment if we continue using printed books.
Please leave your thoughts, ideas or comments in the comments section below. Thank you.
10 thoughts on “Paperless Techniques to Stop Wasting Away Your Time”
Truth is that neither paper nor digital are sustainable. Both are equally bad on the environment. People avoid the use of paper because it is inconvenient.
At this point, the environmental effects of Paper VS Digital Media are unclear and more research is needed. We believe both paper and digital media have a place in our society and that paper should come from sustainable sources.
Please refer to the following articles for more information on the subject.
Reblogged this on 10K-LOC.
We should adopt the Paper-Smart slogan and ditch Paper-Less. Can’t we just use paper from sustainable sources?
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Thanks for commenting Babar. Here’s a nice infographic showing the paper cycle: http://www.torraspapel.com/en-US/sostenibilidad/Lasostenibilidaddelpapel/Pages/default.aspx
That’s a great infographic! I never knew that’s how paper was made!
Do you happen to have an info graphic on how computers are made? You know with all the plastics, processors, gold, platinum, copper, etc.. etc.. that goes into making them?
Would be really cool to look at both side by side and see which one as a lesser foot print.
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We’re glad you enjoyed the infographic. Here’s a very interesting one we found for iPad: http://imgur.com/m8cuLP7
Here’s a comparison of e-readers vs paper from The New York Times you might also find interesting: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/04/opinion/04opchart.html?_r=0
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– Paperistic team
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