Tips for Going Paperless

Since moving to Chicago I have made a concerted effort to go completely paperless. It was driven by a sheer horror of the amount of paper work that had built up over 10 years in business and a huge desire not to pack it all into boxes,  transport it all and then never unpack it. Who’d have thought a web and graphic design business could result in so much paperwork? So I purged big time,  my recycling bin overfloweth,  my shredder over heated and eventually kicked the bucket.  I pared down my paperwork from a huge ugly filing cabinet/cupboard, to a single, well organized draw. I gave away the unsightly filing monster so I could not revert to my old ways. It was so ugly the only person who wanted it was a scrap metal merchant.

Now five months down the road I am sticking to my guns and feeling liberated. Here are some of the things I do to keep the paperless system in smooth running order

  1. Sign up for paperless statements and  billing.  From utility companies to telephone providers. This has saved me a ton of unwanted paper and some companies will actually give you a credit for going paperless. Setting up accounts is generally a simple process and most offer an archive of statements, billing history etc, so it is easy to find everything and look up past bills.
  2. Organization. Just as a paper filing system works best when maintained in well thought out folders, the same is true for a paperless  system. It takes very little time to set up computer folders but is essential to have an effective system. Setting up email folders is a great way to keep track of automatic payments and statement alerts.
  3. Don’t download everything. When I first started my paperless campaign I felt the need to download every statement/invoice etc and file them away in my carefully crafted computer folders. But what is the point of filling up my hard drive when I can quite easily access everything I need via the accounts I set up online. Now I only download and file what is absolutely necessary.
  4. Backup. I backup on an external hard drive.
  5. Don’t print anything out unless you absolutely have to.

© 2011 Chicago web designer

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